NEW EVENT: A Focus on Free Schools


The next meeting of the Structural Reform Research Interest Group will take place: 

Time: 10:00am - 12:00pm BST
When: 12th May 2021

The introduction of the Free Schools policy signaled a radical reform within the English school system. The policy, an extension to the existing academies programme, encouraged the opening of brand-new, state-funded schools. Based upon similar models in Sweden and the US, advocates argued that Free Schools would stimulate choice and diversity in the system, and would improve standards through their increased autonomy and ability to meet the needs of local communities.

It has now been ten years since the first Free Schools opened and, during this time, there have been numerous studies seeking to examine effectiveness and equity issues relating to the policy and the extent to which it has achieved its objectives.

In this meeting we have two presentations, followed by a discussion and Q & A: 

  • Free Schools: The Formative First Ten Years - An Analysis of the Impact of Free Schools Since 2010. Jenna Julius & Jude Hillary, from the NFER will discuss their new research found here
  • Evidence and Reflections on the Free Schools policy in England. Dr Rebecca Morris, University of Warwick & Dr Tom Perry, University of Birmingham. 

In this paper, Becky and Tom will draw upon some of their own research (Morris, 2014, 2016; Morris and Perry, 2019) and critically review and synthesise some of the wider available evidence on Free Schools. They will also point to gaps within the existing literature and point to further areas of research that they think would be valuable. 

Morris, R., & Perry, T. (2019). Private schools for free? Parents’ reasons for choosing a new Free School for their child. Cambridge Journal of Education49(5), 535-552.

Morris, R. (2015). Free Schools and disadvantaged intakes. British Educational Research Journal41(4), 535-552.

Morris, R. (2014). The admissions criteria of secondary Free Schools. Oxford Review of Education40(3), 389-409.

The Discussant will be Rob Higham, UCL


Catherine Simon, BathSpa University
Mark Gibson, Oxford Brookes University

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