The NFER blog

Evidence for excellence in education


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Are secondary free schools really achieving what they’re supposed to?

By Chloe Rush

This opinion piece first appeared in TES on Tuesday 14 November 2017. 

A key part of the 2010 Coalition Government’s education strategy, free schools were introduced to create a more autonomous and self-improving school system by driving up standards through greater school choice and increased local competition. However, free schools have attracted a lot of controversy since their inception, with some commentators claiming they are expensive and wasteful, and set up in places where there is surplus capacity, while supporters say they are located in areas of need and provide a better quality of education than local authority schools. Who is right? We explore some of these issues here and ask why so much of the new provision has happened in London. Continue reading


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Are more free schools a good idea?

By Ben Durbin

Earlier this week David Cameron announced plans to open 500 new free schools in the next Parliament. In doing so, he adopted a familiar template used by politicians announcing new policy initiatives: our previous policy has been successful; if you vote for us we’ll do it some more, and it’ll continue to be successful.

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