A BRADFORD academy chain has been praised for lifting the prospects of poorer pupils - as many other chains are rapped.

Dixons, which runs five academy schools in the city, is rated “above average” for the results achieved by its disadvantaged youngsters last year.

It earns the ranking for overall GCSE marks, as well as for progress made in the key subjects of English and maths, according to the Sutton Trust education charity.

However, Dixons is rated “below average” for performance on the EBacc, a certificate focusing on GCSE results in traditionally academic subjects.

And it is “below average” in a separate measure for how much the attainment of disadvantaged pupils improved over the two-year period between 2001 and 2013.

Nevertheless, Conor Ryan, the Sutton Trust’s communications director, told the T&A: “This is a positive verdict on Dixons.

“When we look across the board, Dixons comes out above average on attainment, which is the measure that’s most important.”

Mr Ryan suggested a number of academy chains had “difficulties” in 2011/12, which may have dragged down results over the two-year period.

The Sutton Trust examined two Bradford schools – Dixons Allerton Academy and Dixons City Academy – as part of a comparison with mainstream local authority schools.

The chain also boasts Dixons Trinity Academy, a newly-opened ‘free’ school and two primaries - the Dixons Music free school and Dixons Marchbank, formerly Bradford Moor Community School.

Recently, Nick Weller, the Dixons head, called for every school to become an independent academy, arguing they could turn around failing schools more quickly.

Local councils lack “democratic accountability” and should not oversee schools, Mr Weller told an inquiry by the education select committee.

But the Sutton Trust found that only nine of the 31 academy chains were performing better than local authorities - and is damning about many of the others.

The report concluded: "The striking success of a handful of academy chains across a whole range of measures needs to be acknowledged and celebrated.

"There are also some chains which are highly ineffective across a range of measures and which are failing to improve the prospects of disadvantaged pupils.

"The very poor results of some chains - both for pupils generally and the disadvantaged pupils they were particularly envisaged to support - comprises a clear and urgent problem."

The T&A attempted to contact Dixons about the report, but was unable to do so.

The findings will add to the pressure on new Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, who has vowed to continue the policies of Michael Gove, her sacked predecessor.