PEPF is an organisation whose purpose is three-fold.

First, 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. Second, 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. And third, 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.

PEPF is both a think tank (undertaking independent research, fact-finding and analysis, communicating the results, and shaping the policy agenda) and a forum (for drawing all parties into the debate about ways forward). 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.

See Fact Finder for further facts and figures on private schools in the UK.


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.

Jess Staufenberg

Jess is an education journalist. Her investigative work on special educational needs funding, small failing private schools, home education and off-rolling has generated national coverage. In 2018 she was shortlisted in the British Journalism awards for specialist media, and came runner-up for most promising newcomer in the 2017 CIPR education journalism awards. In 2019 she fronted a BBC documentary on academy trust failures. Jess has reported for The Guardian, BBC, The Independent and is commissioning and features editor at FE Week and Schools Week.

Christopher Lucas

Christopher was director of the RSA, Royal Society of Arts, !977-94. His main educational concern since then has been to promote and facilitate active forms of learning which engage young people's creative energies as recommended in All Our Futures, a report by the National Advisory Committee on Creative and Cultural Education (1999).

Margaret Hyde

Margaret has been a senior manager in the public and voluntary sectors for most of her career. She is former director of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation (1994 - 2005) and trustee of several charities including the New Economics Foundation and Allen Lane Foundation. She has also served on the Big Lottery Fund and as a member of the Charity Tribunal. Educated in both private and state school sectors, she is a graduate of the London School of Economics and now Governor Emerita.

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.

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.

Mike Trace

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.

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.