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School performance: Institutional environment

It is often argued that greater choice of schools and thus competition between them, facilitates a better match of students to schools and encourages greater effort to improve school performance. CEP work from the early 2000s suggested however that increases in choice and competition did not increase educational standards in English schools.

Our work to evaluate the impact of the academies programme introduced from the early 2000s as a remedial policy to give struggling secondary schools greatly increased autonomy showed that the policy was effective in improving student performance. But, the mass expansion of academies from 2010 when conversion was available to all schools, led to no demonstrable improvement in performance over the schools from which they converted. Nor did we find evidence to support claims that academies' changes in head teachers and management structures, and increases in exclusion rates lead to improved pupil outcomes.

The ongoing work of the programme in this area will consider questions such as: How effective are school networks for raising attainment? How does choice and school competition influence pupils' outcomes?

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