What is PEPF?

PEPF is an organisation whose purpose is three-fold.

1. To address the lack of comprehensive and objective data and information on the policies, operations and finances of UK private schools and other forms of private education such as tutoring.

2. To bring evidence and fresh thinking to the issues of the educational and social impact of private schools and other forms of private education, and their presence and effect on UK institutions and governance.

3. To enhance public knowledge and discussion of these issues and propose ways forward which improve education policy.

Our objective is to contribute towards significantly reducing inequalities of access, outcomes and resources for pupils as these arise from private education.

We were launched in September 2019 as Private School Policy Reform and renamed in April 2021 to reflect our broader remit and commitment to ‘forum’ discussion with all stakeholders and parties.

Funding information:

We rely on individual donations from supportive members of the public via our donations form on the website, and we receive grants from academic institutions to commission and support research. If you would like to donate, or have any questions about our funding, please contact us.


Melissa Benn

Melissa is a writer and campaigner and has written and edited several books on education, including Life Lessons: The Case for a National Education Service (2018). In 2012 Melissa won the Fred and Anne Jarvis award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to creating a fairer education system. She was a founder member of the Local Schools Network, and chair of the cross-party campaign group Comprehensive Future until late 2018.

Harriet Coombs

Harriet is an analyst at the Tony Blair Institute. Before that she was a policy advisor in the Department for Transport, where she worked in a strategy division setting the strategic direction of the Rail Transformation Programme. Prior to this, she worked on fiscal policy at the Department for Levelling Up, and was an intern for the Higher Education Policy Institute.

Francis Green

Francis Green is professor of work and education economics at UCL Institute of Education, where among other areas he has done extensive research on private schools. He is the co-author with David Kynaston of their book, Engines of Privilege: Britain's Private School Problem. Prior to his role at the IoE, he held professorial posts at the universities of Leeds and Kent. Francis was educated at Lancing College in West Sussex.

Madeleine Holt

Madeleine Holt runs the pioneering Meet the Parents project to encourage all families to support their local non-selective schools. A former culture correspondent on BBC Newsnight, she makes films about schools and has made the first in-depth documentary about XP comprehensive in Doncaster through her enterprise, Schools on Screen. She helped set up the campaign group Rescue Our Schools and won the Fred and Anne Jarvis Award for education campaigning in 2019.

Taz Rasul

Taz is a diversity, equity and inclusion freelancer, who previously ran volunteering programmes in equality charities and students' unions. Taz grew up in north west London, attended a comprehensive school that she loved, and became aware of educational disparities at university. She worked in higher education access for a year, and has since volunteered at education organisations.

Jess Staufenberg

Jess is a journalist. Her work on SEND provision, small failing private schools and off-rolling has generated national coverage. Jess has reported for The Guardian, Al Jazeera and The Big Issue and in 2019 fronted a BBC investigation into an academy trust collapse. She is formerly a reporter at newspapers Schools Week and FE Week and was longlisted for the Paul Foot Award for investigative journalism in 2022. She now works for investigative journalism unit SourceMaterial on climate and corruption.

Mike Trace - Chairman

After working for more than a decade with vulnerable and excluded members of society, Mike became the government's deputy drug tsar from 1997-2001. He was then president of the European Union drugs agency, and later worked for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime. He is now chief executive of the Forward Trust, a charity that helps people break the cycle of crime and addiction.

Robert Verkaik

Robert is a journalist specialising in education and extremism. He was home affairs editor and law editor at The Independent, where he worked for 12 years, and security editor at the Mail on Sunday. In 2013 he was runner-up at the National Press Awards for specialist journalism and he’s been long-listed for the Orwell Prize and the Paul Foot Award. In 2019 he wrote Posh Boys, How the English Public Schools Ruin Britain.

Want to volunteer with us?

We’d love to have you! We are looking for people to help with data crunching, events, report-writing and social media engagement.