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Changing School Autonomy: Academy Schools and their Introduction to England's Education

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  • Stephen Machin
  • James Vernoit

Abstract

In this paper, we study a high profile case - the introduction of academy schools into the English secondary school sector - that has allowed schools to gain more autonomy and flexible governance by changing their school structure. We consider the impact of an academy school conversion on their pupil intake and pupil performance and possible external effects working through changes in the pupil intake and pupil performance of neighbouring schools. These lines of enquiry are considered over the school years 2001-02 to 2008-09. We bypass the selection bias inherent in previous evaluations of academy schools by comparing the outcomes of interest in academy schools to a specific group of comparison schools, namely those state-maintained schools that go on to become academies after our sample period ends. This approach allows us to produce a well-balanced treatment and control group. Our results suggest that moving to a more autonomous school structure through academy conversion generates a significant improvement in the quality of their pupil intake and a significant improvement in pupil performance. We also find significant external effects on the pupil intake and the pupil performance of neighbouring schools. All of these results are strongest for the schools that have been academies for longer and for those who experienced the largest increase in their school autonomy. In essence, the results paint a (relatively) positive picture of the academy schools that were introduced by the Labour government of 1997-2010. The caveat is that such benefits have, at least for the schools we consider, taken a while to materialise.

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File URL: http://cee.lse.ac.uk/ceedps/ceedp123.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE in its series CEE Discussion Papers with number 0123.

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Date of creation: Apr 2011
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Handle: RePEc:cep:ceedps:0123

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Web page: http://cee.lse.ac.uk/publications.htm

Related research

Keywords: Academies; pupil intake; pupil performance;

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Cited by:
  1. Stephen Machin & Olmo Silva, 2013. "School Structure, School Autonomy and the Tail," CEP Special Papers 29, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.

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