Segregation at school and at home: An English exploration

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Ethnic segregation, in both neighbourhoods and schools, is an issue regularly raised in the British media, usually associated with arguments that it is growing and generating an increasingly-divided society. Segregation in schools is often presented as particularly problematic, and as greater than neighbourhood segregation - with the implication that a combination of parental choice and Local Education Authority admissions criteria are responsible for that heightened segregation. The validity of such claims is evaluated here for English primary schools using data from the National Pupil Database. Analyses show that for the great majority of schools the proportion of their pupils from South Asian or Black minorities is commensurate with the proportion in their model-defined catchment areas. The main exceptions to this are a relatively small number of Voluntary Aided schools, most with a religious foundation, that can apply faith-based criteria in their admissions policies and tend to draw pupils from wider areas than Community schools lacking that flexibility. A case study of flows in one local authority sustains this general argument - that any greater segregation of schools than neighbourhoods in England reflects the different age profiles of White and non-White populations and is not the result of ethnically-biased schools admissions procedures.
Original languageEnglish
Article number18730
Number of pages24
Issue number2-3
Early online date31 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • England
  • Ethnicity
  • Neighbourhoods
  • Primary schools
  • Segregation


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