The use and development of geographical information systems (GIS) and spatial modelling for educational planning
Since the passing of the 1988 Education Reform Act British education, particularly at a secondary level, has been transformed. The changes enacted in this and subsequent legislation have opened up state-provided education to a market-oriented system which is led more by the preferences of parents than the dictation of local or national planners. This means that local authorities and other providers of education have been left in a situation where they are relatively powerless to provide adequate schooling in a proactive manner. It is also the case that there is a danger of a 'two-tier' education system developing whereby the better-informed middle classes are served by high achieving schools and less advantaged pupils are left to fill inner city 'sink' schools which cannot provide them with the same educational chances due to lower resource levels. This thesis presents a feasibility study of a variety of techniques drawn from academic and applied geography which can be utilised by such planners in order to better target the resources available to them and improve their reactions to the vagaries of the market. These tools concentrate on geographical information systems (GIS) and spatial modelling techniques. Although both of these sets of techniques have for many years been applied in other areas, including within local Government, they have yet to permeate to a decision-making level in education planning. Thus the time is ripe for their wider dissemination and application in this area. Several examples of the possible uses of GIS are given, using real data for Leeds schools and pupils. Various types of spatial model are described and the most appropriate are calibrated and applied using the same Leeds data. The thesis concludes that the benefits of modelling techniques for planners at all scales, from individual schools to national Government, could be enormous. Through the application of these tools planners will be better placed to provide an education service which caters for all pupils within it. However, there are caveats regarding the requirement for further research into improving model performance and ensuring that output is sufficiently user-friendly.