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Educational Reform and School Choice in England and Wales


  • Anne West
  • Hazel Pennell


The paper examines the educational reforms relating to school choice that were introduced in England and Wales by Conservative governments during the 1980s and 1990s. The political background is outlined and the reforms themselves are examined. We evaluate the extent to which choice has increased, and for whom, and whether the Conservative goverments' stated intention of increasing standards of educational achievement has been met. We conclude that although the range of schools from which parents can choose has increased in some areas, the scope for curricular diversity is constrained by the national curriculum. Insofar as choice has increased, the beneficiaries are more likely to be from higher socio-economic groups. There has also been a fragmentation in the process of school admissions which appears to be exacerbating inequities. While performance at the end of compulsory and post-compulsory secondary education has improved, it is not clear to what extent this can be attributed to the reforms. The advent of a new Labour government in May 1997 is likely to result in a policy shift and reference is made to key areas of reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Anne West & Hazel Pennell, 1997. "Educational Reform and School Choice in England and Wales," Education Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 285-305.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:edecon:v:5:y:1997:i:3:p:285-305
    DOI: 10.1080/09645299700000024

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    Cited by:

    1. Galindo-Rueda, Fernando & Vignoles, Anna, 2004. "The Heterogeneous Effect of Selection in Secondary Schools: Understanding the Changing Role of Ability," IZA Discussion Papers 1245, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    2. Adnett, Nick & Bougheas, Spiros & Davies, Peter, 2002. "Market-based reforms of public schooling: some unpleasant dynamics," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 21(4), pages 323-330, August.
    3. Jo Sparkes, 1999. "Schools, Education and Social Exclusion," CASE Papers 029, Centre for Analysis of Social Exclusion, LSE.

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