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Using geographical micro-data to measure segregation at the scale of competing schools in London


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Segregation is a spatial outcome of spatial processes that needs to be measured spatially and at a scale meaningful to the study. This is the axiom from which local indices of segregation are developed and applied to the patterns of admission observed for cohorts of pupils entering London's state-funded secondary (high) schools in each of the years from 2003 to 2008. The indices - local indices of difference, isolation and of concentration – are used to measure social segregation not between arbitrary areas or regions but specifically for schools that overlap in regard to their admission spaces. This is made possible by the use of detailed and geographically referenced governmental micro-data that allow the pupil flows from elementary to high schools to be modeled and therefore "competing" schools to be identified. Using eligibility for free school meals as a measure of social segregation, sizable differences in the proportions of FSM eligible pupils recruited by apparently competing schools are found, with selective schools especially and also faith schools under-recruiting such pupils. Whilst there is some evidence that social segregation has decreased over the period, the trend is considered to be an artifact of using free school meals as a measure of disadvantage. As such the problem shifts from at what scale to measure between-school segregation to what actually is an appropriate measure to use.

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Using geographical micro-data to measure segregation at the scale of competing schools in London

  1. 1. Using geographical micro-data to measure segregation at the scale of competing schools in London Richard Harris School of Geographical Sciences & Centre for Market and Public Organisation University of Bristol, UK
  2. 2. OutlineThere is an argument that “school choice” (in the UK)leads to social segregation.Segregation is a spatial outcome of spatial processes thatare spatially variable.Aim, therefore is to develop local indices of segregationdeveloped and applied, not between arbitrary areas orregions but specifically for schools that overlap in regardto their admission spaces.
  3. 3. OutlineUse detailed and geographically referencedgovernmental micro-data (PLASC/NPD) that allow pupilflows from primary (elementary) to secondary (high)schools to be modelled, therefore "competing" schoolsto be identified.Looking to see if there is a separation of more and lesseconomically (dis-) advantaged pupils as they make thetransition from primary to secondary schools.Which would suggest a process of social sorting over-and-above prior sorting (by neighbourhood geographyand by primary school).
  4. 4. ContextStudy region is Greater London, with 382 516 records ofpupils who entered one of 384 state-funded secondaryschools in any one of the years 2003 to 2008.It has been reported that only one quarter of pupils inLondon go to their nearest secondary school (Burgess etal 2008)… who also find that there is an average of 37 feederprimary schools per secondary school in London.Which implies a ‘noisy system’
  5. 5. Showing the typical number of feeder primary schools a secondary school in London has for a certain percentage of its intake in 2008
  6. 6. But… it is easy to exaggerate…
  7. 7. Showing the links between primary and secondary schools for the first 50% of the intake into each secondary school (shown for a part of London in 2008). Evidence of geographical clustering?  Cf. Hamnett and Butler 2011 ’Geography Matters’: the role distance plays in reproducing educational inequality in East London TIBG 36 479–500
  8. 8. The geography…… is not surprisingIt isn’t a choice systemWhen demand for places exceeds supply, admissionscriteria are used and these often make allocations basedon where the pupil lives (in general, proximity to theschool).Schools that select by faith or by entrance exam are theexceptions.Pupils still tend to go to a local school.
  9. 9. Consequently…Schools that recruit ahigher proportion ofFSM eligible pupilstends to be competingwith schools that do thesame.Reflects neighbourhoodgeographies.But are there localdifferences betweencompeting schools?
  10. 10. How to define “competing”?The graph shows secondary schoolsthat are connected by one or moreprimary school.The level of ‘competition’ betweenschools is quantified in the form of aweights matrix the weight between any two competing schools (iand j) is the (joint) probability that a pupil selected at random from secondary school i attended the same primary school as a pupil selected at random from secondary school j. The weights are then scaled (row- standardised) so that the sum of the weights for any school is equal to one.
  11. 11. From the weights matrix to the local indices of segregationA local and spatial index of segregation is here defined asone where  (a) each zone or place in the study region is considered with respect to all others with which it interacts, is proximate to, shares a border and/or with which there is an interdependency or connection; and  (b) where a separate index value is calculated for every zone or place within the study region (as opposed to having one summary average for them all) so their distribution of the values across the study region can be considered
  12. 12. Three measuresLocal index of difference (of dissimilarity) Where p is the proportion of FSM eligible pupilsLocal index of isolationLocal index of clusteringTheir share characteristic is the (spatial) weights matrix
  13. 13. Index values for 2008 by school type
  14. 14. LID scores (2008)
  15. 15. So, local differences but are they getting worse (or better)? (no!)
  16. 16. ConclusionsThe substantive conclusion of the case study is thatapparently competing secondary schools do not recruitequal proportions of FSM eligible pupils. Smithers& Robinson (2010) find that comprehensive schools in England are highly socially segregatedAcross London, in 2008, the mean difference between aschool and its average competitor was 0.078 (7.8percentage points) against an overall proportion of 0.268of pupils eligible for FSM.
  17. 17. ConclusionsThe patterns of segregation vary geographically and byschool type, with schools that select either by faith or byacademic ability tending to under recruit FSM eligiblepupils relative to their competitors.Whilst there is no evidence that the social segregationhas increased over the period 2002 to 2008, the evidenceit may have decreased is rendered uncertain by theunderlying inconsistency of what FSM eligibilitymeasures at any time period.
  18. 18. ConclusionsHowever, some stability is not especially surprising whenit isn’t a school choice system at all, only the right toexpress a preference.It is likely that these admissions criteria create andmaintain differences between schools (in regard to whothey are recruiting) but what should the policy responsebe? Lottery for places? Guarantee right of entry to a particular choice set of schools?
  19. 19. ReferencesHarris, RJ, 2011, Measuring segregation – ‘a geographical tale,Environment and Planning A, 43, pp. 1747-1753.Harris RJ, 2012, Local indices of segregation with applicationto social segregation between London’s secondary schools,2003 – 2008/9, Environment and Planning A, in press.Harris RJ, 2012/13, Geographies of transition and theseparation of lower and higher attaining pupils in the movefrom primary to secondary school in London, Transactions ofthe Institute of British Geographers, in press.