Free choice of primary school in Kent (UK) and its environmental impact

  1. Fabiola Portillo Pérez de Viñaspre 1
  2. Cecilio Mar-Molinero 2
  1. 1 Universidad de La Rioja

    Universidad de La Rioja

    Logroño, España


  2. 2 Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)
LEER Workshop ‘Efficiency in Education and the use of big data. Book of Abstracts

Publisher: KU Leuven, Leuven Economics of Education Research

Year of publication: 2015

Congress: LEER Workshop ‘Efficiency in Education and the use of big data

Type: Conference paper

Institutional repository: lock_openOpen access Editor


We explore the extent to which the exercise of parental choice takes place in thecounties of Kent and Medway, in the UK, the reasons behind this behaviour, and weestimate its environmental impact. All children aged between 4 and 11 are offered aschool place within walking distance of their home address. However, they can chooseto attend a different school provided there are available places in the alternative school.The study covers 538 primary state schools, offering education to around 150,000children. The data was obtained from the 2001 Population Census and from theNational Pupils’ Dataset (NPD), a database collected by the UK’s Ministry of Education.The NPD contains, for every child who attends a state school, information such as homeaddress, school attended, test results, and other personal details. Other data used wasobtained from the Local Education Authority. Since we know both the location of theschools and the place where children live, it is possible to allocate children to schoolson the basis of geographical proximity using a linear programming (LP) algorithm. ThisLP was very large, with about two million unknowns and generated a set of expectedtravel distances that were used as benchmarks against which to compare the actualdistances travelled. The differences between predicted and actual distances areexplained on the basis of the social characteristics of the area in which the school issituated. These social characteristics are summarized in a set of social indicators forevery neighbourhood derived from the 2001 Population Census. The results confirm thewell-established view that social background is a major determinant in the dynamics offree school choice. Making some simple assumptions it is possible to estimate theexcess economic cost in terms of excess petrol usage of free choice of primary school