School Choice in London and Paris - A Comparison of Middle-class Strategies

Benson, Michaela; Bridge, Gary and Wilson, Deborah. 2015. School Choice in London and Paris - A Comparison of Middle-class Strategies. Social Policy & Administration, 49(1), pp. 24-43. ISSN 01445596 [Article]

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Education is one major public service in which quasi-markets and other choice-based mechanisms are now established methods of delivery. The types of school people choose, and the extent to which their choices are realized, have a fundamental impact on the outcomes of any mechanism of school choice. In this article, we provide a comparative analysis of the school choice strategies of middle-class families in London and Paris. We draw on approximately 200 in-depth interviews carried out across the two cities. This enables us to investigate the extent to which middle-class school choice strategies transcend the institutional context provided by both the local (state and private) schools market and national education policy in England and France. We discuss these findings in the context of current school choice policy and consider their implications for future policy design.

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Funding from the ESRC via CMPO (grant number RES-343-28-0001) is gratefully acknowledged. Thanks to Marie Hélène Bacqué (Univ. Paris X) for access to the Paris data. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of the Agence Nationale de Recherche and ESRC (grant number RES-062-33-0002) for their support of the project ‘The middle classes in the city: social mix or just “people like us”? A comparison of Paris and London’, from which the data presented in this article was extracted. Thanks to participants at the 2012 Policy and Politics Conference, Bristol, the 2013 RC21 Conference, Berlin, three anonymous referees and the editor for their comments. The views expressed are those of the authors.


School choice; London; Paris; Middle-class

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26 May 2014Published Online
January 2015Published

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29 Sep 2014 16:00

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21 Apr 2021 13:48

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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