A rising tide: the competitive benefits of free schools
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Jonathan Simons and Natasha Porter

A Rising Tide sets out the first detailed analysis of the performance of local schools where a free school has opened. It finds that free schools raise standards for other pupils across the local community as well for the pupils who attend them, especially in some of the poorest performing schools. 

The analysis compared three similar, geographically close schools within the same Local Authority to each of the 171 mainstream primary and secondary free schools open at the time of the research. It found that competition drove up standards at both primary and secondary level, and that contrary to some criticism levelled at free schools they do not drag down the results of neighbouring schools but rather improve them.

The competition effect created by a free school led to improved academic standards in nearby underperforming schools. In every year apart from 2010 it found that the opening of a free school was associated with substantial improvements for the lowest performing primary schools nearby. At secondary level, the opening of a free school was associated with improvements for all secondary schools with below average results.

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Jonathan Simons and Natasha Porter

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Policy Exchange

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Policy Exchange

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The scope of the research will make for interesting reading for both policymakers and professionals within free and state schools. It may be of particular use to schools operating in areas where free schools have recently opened. 


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R041 / 293
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