Competition, cream-skimming and department performance within secondary schools
The performance of departments has been largely neglected in previous studies of subject choice in secondary schools. This is a significant omission because analysis at departmental level enables a fuller assessment of the effects of competition and specialisation on pupil performance. This paper examines relationships between both absolute and value-added measures of departmental performance and the likelihood of students being entered for examination in a subject. It examines these relationships with reference to four option subjects: French, German, Geography and History. It utilises data from an Economic and Social Research Council-funded study which examined trends and patterns in departmental effectiveness using a sample of 664 schools which participated in the Yellis monitoring system for a minimum of five years during the period 1995-2002.