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Title: Parents making secondary school choices in three local authority education markets
Author: Narey, Janice
Awarding Body: Canterbury Christ Church University
Current Institution: Canterbury Christ Church University
Date of Award: 2012
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There is a considerable body of research relating to two aspects of education policy and provision which has been central to this thesis. The first aspect relates to the development of local education markets, and the way in which these have varied considerably within a national framework of provision. The second has been concerned with the process of parental choice of schools: the values - and criteria which parents have applied to this process and the knowledge and skills which they have brought to it. This research has brought these aspects together, to examine the way in which year six parents in three local education markets set about the process of choosing secondary schools for their children. The data for this research was collected within three local education markets in south-east England betWeen September 1999 and March 2000. These markets were chosen because they centred upon local education authorities (LEAs) which were markedly different in their systems of secondary transfer: it was intended to investigate whether features of specific local education markets influenced the parental choice process. Within each of these markets, the research focused upon three primary schools. A total of 52 parents with children in year six attending these schools were interviewed., and 71 returned questionnaires. In addition, the headteachers of all the primary schools were interviewed, together with officers responsible for secondary transfer in two of the LEAs. The research was undertaken during a period when, despite the election of a Labour government in 1997, parents were making their choices in the context of a market-based system of education provision which had been established by successive Conservative governments during the 1980s and 199Os. This system emphasised the role of parents as allocators of resources, and implied that their demands for places at schools which satisfied their criteria would be met, as schools competed for parents' custom, and good schools expanded as poorer ones improved or closed. However, an additional very significant aspect of the context in which these year six parents made their choices was a hierarchy of schools according to attainment. As a result, the choice process was complicated by parents competing for places at the most sought-after schools research was based upon an analysis of the way in which year six parents used the sources of information and advice available to them, and the extent to which these sources influenced the choice. This influence related to parents' ability to decode them and use them from a critical perspctive. However, an equally important aspect of the research was concerned with the potential -for aspects oflocal education markets to influence the choice process. The results of the research indicated that parents' ability to use sources of infonnation and advice to their advantage, in terms of obtaining places at their preferred schools, was strongly related to social class background. However, it also indicated that, where demand for places at some schools exceeded supply, this ability was not always sufficient. The specific features of the three local education markets resulted in parents having to assess not only the resources which they brought to the choice process themselves, but the resources of other parents.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available