Researching independent school choice
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Researching independent school choice book
Set against the background of extensive research into school choice in general, however, the process of choice in relation to the independent school sector has not been subjected to extensive public domain research. This is perhaps surprising in view of the fact that independent schools have always operated in a market place where parental choice is essential to the school’s survival and wellbeing. This may reﬂect in part the small scale of the sector within the total UK educational arena, but is also the result of a number of other characteristics of the market:
a The competitive nature of the market has meant that collaboration on research has not been acceptable between schools. The desire to keep understandings of the market and research data conﬁdential from competitors has been strong. Indeed, schools may fear that the mere process of undertaking research may be seen by parents and competitor schools as indicative that a ‘problem’ exists in the school, and for this reason many have not engaged with public domain research. In recent years many schools have undertaken marketing research on their own behalf through the use of consultancy and market research organisations, though, and have changed their promotional strategies and, on occasion, their fundamental character as schools (for example, by becoming co-educational in the sixthform). In many cases such research has also focused on speciﬁc issues (for example, sixth-form entry) rather than seeking to provide a wider picture of the operation of the market place, and so is of less generic value in understanding independent school markets at a macro scale. Such research ﬁndings are regarded, in any case, as commercially sensitive and are, therefore, almost always conﬁdential.