account arrow-down-linearrow-down-small arrow-downarrow-download arrow-left-small arrow-leftarrow-link arrow-rightarrow-upaudio-less-volume audio-not-playing audio-plus-volume audio awarded books calendar close-modal closedate document education emailevent Facebookhamburger impact instagramjustice linkedin location-outline location opinion page phonepinterestplay pluspost preview project reports search-bigsearch-old search share startime twitterwelfare youtube zoom-in zoom-out

School choice and equality of opportunity

Researchers: Dr Deborah Wilson

Project overview

The schools that pupils attend have a significant impact on their educational experience, academic performance and future life chances.

Since 1988, parents in England have been able to choose a school for their child. This parental choice is similarly well established in many other countries. However, despite its political popularity, parental choice of school and its effects is a somewhat contested field.

This study will review a wide body of international research to explore how choice-based school admissions policies affect the allocation of pupils across schools. It will focus on the extent to which school choice promotes equality of opportunity in terms of access to different types of secondary school for children from different backgrounds.

This will be an ‘integrative review’, encompassing both the empirical and the theoretical literature with the aim of providing clarity to a contested problem.

The overall aim is to inform policy and practice around equality of opportunity in education, by clarifying what evidence is already available and where the gaps in the evidence base are.


  • Dr Deborah Wilson
    University of Bristol

  • Director, Education
    Nuffield Foundation

Explore our projects

Search projects

We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We are an open, collaborative and engaged funder that offers more than money. Through connecting the individual projects we fund, we strengthen their collective impact and give voice to an overarching narrative.