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Quasi-regulation and principal-agent relationships: secondary school admissions in London, England

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Market-oriented reforms and school choice policies have had a high political profile in a number of developed countries. This article examines the issue of school choice through the lens of the English market-oriented reforms; it focuses on the quasi-regulation and regulation of admissions to publicly funded secondary schools. It examines admissions to state-maintained secondary schools in London in terms of the criteria and practices used in the event of there being more applicants than places available. It also explores changes in admissions criteria and practices between 2001 and 2005 given the legislative and policy changes introduced in the intervening period. Principal—agent theory is used heuristically to explain the differing responses of schools with responsibility for admissions and local authorities to the legislative and policy framework. It is argued that while local authorities act broadly in line with government guidance and regulations as the agent of the government, schools acting as agents do not necessarily do so and more appear to select particular groups of children as opposed to others. This, it is argued, is because the regulatory mechanisms have been insufficient to motivate them to act as intended in relation to their admissions policies and practices in the light of the other policy goals and incentives accompanying the market-oriented reforms.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/25639/

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