Institute of Education


School choice in England: Evidence from national administrative data

13 November 2019, 1:00 pm–2:00 pm

School boys in the UK

In this Quantitative Social Science seminar, Anna Vignoles presents new evidence on school choice in England, based on an analysis of the choices made by all parents seeking a place in state secondary schools.

Event Information

Open to



Dingeman Wiertz


Room G02
Centre for Longitudinal Studies
55-59 Gordon Square

Drawing on national administrative data on choices for state secondary schools, Anna Vignoles discusses new evidence on how the school choice market functions, including the number of choices made by parents, whether the nearest school is the first choice, and the probability of an offer from the first choice school. 

In addition, Professor Vignoles describes how choices vary by pupil, school and neighbourhood characteristics, and how school choice is used differently by different groups and in different parts of the country. Among other things, she shows – for the first time – national data on how school choices vary according to pupils’ ethnic group and across urban and rural areas.

The analysis demonstrates that many parents proactively use the school choice system. Contrary to prior studies that rely on smaller and less representative samples, it turns out that school choices do not vary significantly by social background. Furthermore, new evidence is provided on the question whether current school admissions criteria that prioritise distance penalise poorer families.


About the Speaker

Anna Vignoles

Anna Vignoles is a Professor of Education at the University of Cambridge, a Fellow of the British Academy, a trustee of the Nuffield Foundation, and a member of the ESRC Council. Her research focuses on how we can improve students’ academic achievement and help them develop the skills they need in the labour market. 

More about Anna Vignoles