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British educational trajectories from school to university: evaluating quantitative evidence in policy formulation and justification

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-155
Number of pages19
JournalPolicy and Politics
Issue number2
Early online date5 Apr 2016
DateAccepted/In press - 18 Feb 2016
DateE-pub ahead of print - 5 Apr 2016
DatePublished (current) - Apr 2017


The increasing volume of available ‘big data’ contains great potential for public policy to be evidence-based – as long as they are properly analysed and fully appreciated. This paper examines a case where that did not happen, and as a consequence an ideological-driven policy change was supported by a poor analysis of the available data. Using the same data, analyses employing a novel procedure falsify the government’s arguments: many well-qualified students for courses in
the country’s leading universities may not be offered places there in the absence of data on their academic progress during their two years of post-secondary education.

    Research areas

  • contingency tables, school examination performance, university admissions, university degree performance

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    Rights statement: This is the author accepted manuscript (AAM). The final published version (version of record) is available online via Policy Press at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Accepted author manuscript, 487 KB, PDF document


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