Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Perception Vs Fact - School zones, competition and choice

Researchers at the London School of Economics, Centre for Economics of Education have conducted some reserach into choice and competition in London primary schools. You can find the research here. There is a brief article about this in the latest education review.

The initial findings did show that pupils did better in schools where competitive markets operated. But - in look further they saw that it was due to the sorting of students and the socio economic area around the school that led to this achievement - not the competition. Many people would argue that the sorting of students is exactly why competition works, but the difficulty with this, is that the students are already 'smarter' than others - it is not the competition that raises the standards. The sorting and choosing of students is just a streaming or class based system.
The research showed that "attainment for pupils... - are unrelated to the choices avalible to the pupils or to the competitive pressures the school faces."
This research is part of the arguement against competition and choice in schooling - I refer back to my previous argument. The demand for choice in schools is not rational and based on achievement, it is grounded in parental hysteria.
Until we build confidence and breakdown stereotypes around schools we will continue to have debate framed by fear of the current system.