School choice and diversity in England: a brief overview of research and key issues in House of Commons Education and Skills Committee.
In: Choice and Diversity of Schooling Provision: Issues and Evidence, 01 Apr 2004, London.
This paper offers a brief review of evidence and key issues relevant to choice and diversity in the maintained secondary school sector in England since the mid 1990s.
It focuses in particular on the Committee's question 21, about the relationship between diversity and choice. It suggests that, despite a strong focus on choice and diversity in schools policy over more than a decade, the precise connection between them is very little understood and needs much closer attention. The relationship between them appears subtle and ambiguous. Just as choice does not necessarily lead to greater diversity, so diversity may not produce perceptions of increased choice. For example it is not self-evident that defining school missions more sharply in terms of subject specialisation will lead to a perception of enhanced choice among families of 10-year old children. The perception could instead turn out to be one of reduced choice, particularly among the many families in all types of area (not just rural ones) who consider that their realistic choice of schools is very limited. Families may also perceive unwelcome pressure to form a judgement about their child's aptitudes at an early age.
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