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Parental choice of primary school in England: what ‘type’ of school do parents choose?

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  • Simon Burgess
  • Ellen Greaves
  • Anna Vignoles
  • Deborah Wilson

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Abstract

We investigate the central premise of the theory of markets in education, namely that parents value academic standards. We ask what parents really want from schools and whether different types of parents have similar preferences. We examine parents’ stated preferences and revealed preferences for schools (their actual choice of school as opposed to what they say they value in a school). More educated and higher socio-economic status (SES) parents are more likely to cite academic standards, whilst less educated and lower SES parents are more likely to cite proximity. More advantaged parents choose better performing schools, particularly in areas with many schools and therefore a lot of potential school choice. More advantaged parents also choose schools with much lower proportions of pupils eligible for free school meals, relative to other schools available to them. Hence whilst parents do not admit to choosing schools on the basis of their social composition, this happens in practice. Most parents get their first choice of school (94%) and this holds both for more and less advantaged parents, though this is partially because poorer parents make more ‘realistic’, i.e. less ambitious, choices. If, in areas where there is a lot of potential competition between schools, more advantaged families have a higher chance of achieving their more ambitious choices that do poorer parents, this could tend to exacerbate social segregation in our schools.

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File URL: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/cmpo/publications/papers/2009/wp224.pdf
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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Department of Economics, University of Bristol, UK in its series The Centre for Market and Public Organisation with number 09/224.

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Length: 34 pages
Date of creation: Nov 2009
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:bri:cmpowp:09/224

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Keywords: school preferences; school choice; parental choice;

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References

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  1. Simon Burgess & Ellen Greaves & Anna Vignoles & Deborah Wilson, 2009. "What parents want: school preferences and school choice," DoQSS Working Papers 09-01, Department of Quantitative Social Science - Institute of Education, University of London.
  2. Gregory R. Weiher & Kent L. Tedin, 2002. "Does choice lead to racially distinctive schools? Charter schools and household preferences," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(1), pages 79-92.
  3. Brian A. Jacob & Lars Lefgren, 2007. "What Do Parents Value in Education? An Empirical Investigation of Parents' Revealed Preferences for Teachers," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(4), pages 1603-1637, November.
  4. Mark Schneider & Gregory Elacqua & Jack Buckley, 2006. "School choice in Chile: Is it class or the classroom?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 25(3), pages 577-601.
  5. Hastings, Justine S. & Kane, Thomas J. & Staiger, Douglas O., 2005. "Parental Preferences and School Competition: Evidence from a Public School Choice Program," Working Papers 10, Yale University, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Rebecca Allen & Simon Burgess, 2011. "Evaluating the provision of school performance information for school choice," DoQSS Working Papers 11-10, Department of Quantitative Social Science - Institute of Education, University of London.
  2. Piergiacomo Sibiano & Giuseppe Catalano, 2010. "Investigating school autonomy: a comparison between England and Italy," Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación volume 5, in: María Jesús Mancebón-Torrubia & Domingo P. Ximénez-de-Embún & José María Gómez-Sancho & Greg (ed.), Investigaciones de Economía de la Educación 5, edition 1, volume 5, chapter 8, pages 155-184 Asociación de Economía de la Educación.
  3. Stephen Machin & Sandra McNally, 2011. "The Evaluation of English Education Policies," CEE Discussion Papers 0131, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.

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