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Which child to which school? How local politicians shape catchment areas, school choice and diversity

Publicerad:2022-08-30
Uppdaterad:2023-09-03
Susanne Sawander
Skribent:Susanne Sawander

Growing global debates surrounding parental school choice underscore the relevance of school place allocation. While there is much research on school choice, the enactment of such allocation policy is rarely analysed. Responding to this research gap, this article investigates how local politicians in Berlin put public primary school place allocation into practice. Building on approaches of policy enactment and policy field analysis, this article examines the ‘doing’ of Berlin primary school place allocation with the concurrency of catchment areas and parental school choice. Methodologically, this article draws on semi-structured interviews with three inner-city district school department heads in Berlin. Using qualitative content analysis, their political objectives, scope and strategies are analysed. The findings demonstrate that local politicians can interpret the allocation process in line with their political objectives. Consequently, there is surprising variation between the districts’ enactment of primary school place allocation policy. Policymakers’ political preferences for either school choice or social diversity are influential, as is the local context (e.g. school place shortages). The study highlights the importance of local actors and identifies three political strategies used to influence school place allocation, which might inform local politicians’ strategies elsewhere.

Författare: Vito Dabisch

Which child to which school? How local politicians shape catchment areas, school choice and diversity

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