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Are free schools socially selective? A quantitative analysis

Green, FGF; Allen, R; Jenkins, A; (2015) Are free schools socially selective? A quantitative analysis. British Educational Research Journal , 41 (6) pp. 907-924. 10.1002/berj.3190. Green open access

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Abstract

Supporters and critics of free schools in England have had differing expectations about whether free schools would emerge in socially disadvantaged areas, and whether they would become socially selective. We investigate the outcomes, using information from the first three years since the introduction of the first new schools in 2011, drawn from the National Pupil Database. We find that, as policy proposers had expected, free schools have been situated in neighbourhoods that are somewhat above average in terms of the proportions entitled to free school meals, a well-known indicator of social disadvantage. Nevertheless, we also find that the free schools are socially selective within their neighbourhoods. These two effects balance out so that, overall, compared with the average for all England, there are no great differences between the social composition of secondary free schools and that of the national average. However, at primary school level there is evidence that free schools are enrolling children with above average ability. Moreover, there are very substantive differences between the ethnic composition of free schools and other schools. Despite these differences, we find little evidence that the presence of free schools is having an effect on the social composition of intakes to other schools in their neighbourhoods or on segregation in the local authority as a whole. We suggest this may be because there are still too few free schools, with very small cohort sizes, recruiting from very dispersed areas.

Type: Article
Title: Are free schools socially selective? A quantitative analysis
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/berj.3190
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/berj.3190
Language: English
Additional information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Green, FGF; Allen, R; Jenkins, A; (2015) Are free schools socially selective? A quantitative analysis. British Educational Research Journal, which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/berj.3190. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Keywords: selection, admissions, segregation, school autonomy
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Education, Practice and Society
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Social Research Institute
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1461098
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