Free school benefits questioned

By staff

Research undermining the value of ‘free schools’ backed by the new coalition government has brought Michael Gove’s policy into question.

The education secretary announced plans to follow the Swedish model for schools which are publicly funded but operate independently from their local authority last week.

According to a paper published in the Research in Public Policy journal children from more affluent backgrounds tend to benefit more from free schools than those from deprived backgrounds.

“The evidence on the impact of the reforms suggests that, so far, Swedish pupils do not appear to be harmed by the competition from private schools, but the new schools have not yet transformed educational attainment in Sweden,” the report concludes.

The report also found that the benefits of the system do not necessarily translate into improvements in educational achievements later in life.

The Department for Education has been boosted by interest in the academies proposal from over 700 groups.