Working paper 06/159 - Abstract

School Choice in England: Background Facts (PDF, file 154 KB) (PDF, 153kB)

Simon Burgess Adam Briggs, Brendon McConnell and Helen Slater

There is considerable debate on the merits of extending and strengthening school choice. In England, the controversial Education and Inspections Bill, published on the 28 February 2006, contains a prominent role for ‘school choice’. But the debate lacks some basic information on these issues, and this paper provides some background facts to fill this gap. We first consider the transport issue and ask how many pupils have choice of schools. We report the distance of school commutes for various breakdowns of LEA and school type, and for sub-groups of pupils. We also turn the question around and tabulate the proportion of pupils who have 3 schools within 2km of their home, and within 5km and 8km. The conclusion from all this is that most pupils do have considerable choice of school (as defined here). We also address a specific issue about school access ? which pupils attend their nearest school. We show that only about a half of pupils attend their nearest school, and 30% do not attend one of their nearest three schools. We investigate this to understand which pupils attend their local school, and the role played by the quality of that local school.

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