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ERIC Number: ED531219
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006-Jan
Pages: 62
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 51
ISBN: ISBN-0-7530-1852-7
ISSN: ISSN-2045-6557
Competition, Choice and Pupil Achievement. CEE DP 56
Gibbons, Stephen; Machin, Stephen; Silva, Olmo
Centre for the Economics of Education (NJ1)
The expansion of school choice and greater competition between schools is currently the centrepiece of government educational policy in the UK. There is an increasing emphasis on parents' right to choose their preferred schools, and whilst many parents may value choice itself, the advocates of these market oriented reforms usually argue that the main benefits are to force educational providers to improve standards. In this study we look to see whether we can find any empirical foundation for these claims amongst the primary school population in the south east of England. Our key findings are that: (1) Pupils who have a wider choice of schools at their place of residence perform no better than those with more limited choice; (2) Secular schools located in places where they face strong competition from other schools perform no better than secular schools in more isolated, monopolistic settings; (3) Church schools seem to respond more positively to competition, particularly from other church schools. We have some evidence to show that pupils in more isolated church schools perform less well than those in competitive church school "markets"; (4) The benefits of competition seem strongest amongst pupils in church schools with the highest concentrations of low-income children; and (5) On balance, choice and competition does not seem to be generally effective in raising standards in the school context. Although the issue has been widely researched, especially in the US, existing evidence on the beneficial effects of competition on educational achievements is at best mixed, and does not provide a solid ground for policy conclusions. We use a large administrative census of primary school pupils in London and the surrounding area. This allows us to improve on the existing literature along two dimensions. First, exploiting pupil residential details and information on school location, we construct separate "choice" and "competition" indices and study their impact on pupil attainment. Choice is a property of pupil residential location, and depends on the schools from which a family can feasibly choose. Competition is a property of schools, and depends on the number of institutions competing for the same pool of pupils. Secondly, we make use of the fact that institutional barriers limit school attendance outside the Local Education Authority (LEA) of residence and that, as a result, very few pupils cross district boundaries to attend primary school. Because of this, pupils near LEA boundaries face less choice and schools near LEA boundaries tend to face less competition. We can use this feature of the admissions system to help solve the difficult issues of reverse causation arising from the fact that school performance may influence the patterns of choice and competition that we observe. Controls, summary statistics are appended. (Contains 6 figures, 9 tables and 21 footnotes.)
Centre for the Economics of Education. London School of Economics and Political Science, Houghton Street, London, WC2A 2AE, UK. Tel: +44-20-7955-7673; Fax: +44-20-7955-7595; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Department for Education and Skills
Authoring Institution: London School of Economics & Political Science, Centre for the Economics of Education
Identifiers - Location: United Kingdom