Private schools for free? Parents’ reasons for choosing a new Free School for their child

Rebecca Morris, Thomas Perry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
170 Downloads (Pure)


This study examines parental choice preferences following the introduction of the Free Schools policy in England. It reports on two phases of data collection: first, the analysis of factors that Free School and non-Free School parents reported as important in informing their choices; and, second, findings from semi-structured interviews with parents of children attending a Free School. The findings show that Free School parents’ choices were mostly influenced by similar factors to those of parents elsewhere. There were, however, some notable exceptions, particularly in relation to school size, ethos and curriculum. The analyses also highlight how the lack of information available led parents to use proxies to assess potential academic quality and school suitability for their child. The tensions that exist for parents in exercising choice within this new context and the implications for school intakes and diversity within the system are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-552
Number of pages18
JournalCambridge Journal of Education
Issue number5
Early online date12 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2019


  • Free schools
  • academies
  • parents
  • school choice


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