For-profit Schools in England: the state of a nation

Joy Martin, Lynda Dunlop

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trends towards the marketisation of the schooling sector have led to suggestions that state-funded schools in England will soon be allowed to operate on a for-profit basis. This article has two aims: to contribute to understanding of the regulation and characterisation of existing for-profit schools in England; and to assess the claim that for-profit schools ‘significantly outperform’ all independent schools by exploring the use of large scale databases including the National Pupil Database (NPD). This study highlights the growth of the for-profit sector, and the scarcity of legislation detailing the financial governance, educational oversight and staffing requirements of schools in the for-profit schooling sector. The for-profit schooling sector is found to be underperforming in terms of school inspection ratings at a level of statistical significance in comparison to the state funded schooling sector. Furthermore, performance indicators relating to GCSE and A level results suggest that the for-profit sector is underperforming compared to the not-for-profit independent sector. As such, the findings of this research have implications in undermining the neoliberal argument that has driven significant change in the schooling landscape in recent times.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)726-741
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of education policy
Issue number5
Early online date28 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2019

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  • for-profit schools
  • profit motive
  • inspection outcomes
  • academic outcomes
  • For-profit schools

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