Free schools in England: choice, admissions and social segregation

Morris, Rebecca (2016). Free schools in England: choice, admissions and social segregation. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This study examines the issue of school choice in the context of Free Schools in England. It focuses on three different aspects, each one related the Free Schools policy from a social justice and equity perspective. First, the admissions arrangements of secondary Free Schools, are explored. Second, the reasons and strategies that parents reported when choosing a school are considered. Finally, the student compositions of the schools are analysed. The study as a whole takes a multi-method approach, using Annual School Census data, parent questionnaires and interviews and a documentary analysis of admissions policies.

The findings show a complex picture, reflecting the heterogeneous and diverse nature of Free Schools. Disadvantaged pupils are under-represented in the majority of Free Schools, but not in all. The admissions policies also suggest that the majority of Free Schools are using similar methods for allocating places as those used by other schools in their area. Parents that had chosen Free Schools tended to report looking for similar features but had taken different routes and encountered varying circumstances during the decision-making process. Many were attracted to the Free School by its promise of quality and used a range of proxy features to determine this, including factors relating to the social composition, comparisons with other school types and a focus on a traditional approach to schooling. Recommendations for how the Free Schools policy (and education policy more widely) could be used to encourage equity of access and opportunity are included at the end of the study.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools


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