School choice in an established market

Front Cover
Ashgate, Aug 26, 1997 - Education - 271 pages
This is a book about school choice. One of the basic premises of the book is that the full effect of market reforms in education policy cannot be seen for at least a generation. In order to understand some of the longer term implications of competition between schools, the work therefore includes a number of fee-paying schools which are competing in a very volatile localized market. It describes how choice actually takes place - including when the choice takes place, who has the final say, how many schools are considered and which choice criteria are reported.School Choice in an Established Market is also the first book that allows the voices of children to be fully heard in the context of debates about the values, consequences and mechanics of the process of choosing a new school. By gathering the views of parents and children independently via observation, interview and survey, it has been possible to compare them directly for the first time.The findings are partly based on the largest survey of its kind, with over 100 variables gathered from 1,300 respondents using 33 different schools. This gives them a general applicability unprecedented in previous school research. The book is therefore the first to reveal those patterns underlying the complex and seemingly idiosyncratic reasons for choice which have been reported in other studies. Although this has been attempted before in an ad hoc way, this study is the only one to eschew pre-defined categories of choice criteria and to base the categories on those discernible from the responses of the choosers, using multivariate statistical techniques (such as principle components analysis).The results are a surprise. The relevance of convenience, pupil selection and the schooling of friends and family have all been seriously over-estimated in the past. A desire for a traditional education and a safe environment for the child are the primary general motivators underlying school selection, pushing academic matters and the school facilities into second place.School Choice in an Established Market destroys forever the cosy myth that fee-paying schools are large successful charitable institutions catering chiefly for a select group of privileged families. A typical fee-paying school is, in fact, a privately owned coeducational urban day school with fewer than a hundred pupils, perhaps even fewer than twenty pupils. The reluctant private sector is growing and it gives the reader an insight into the perceptions of state schooling in the light of recent reforms, from those on the outside.

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Markets in education
The prevailing evidence

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