This book offers a unique record of the realities of parental choice and competitive pressures on schools. On the basis of research involving thousands of parents and eleven secondary schools monitored over several years, it sets out: * empirical findings on parents' preferences and experience of choice, how schools respond to competitive pressures, and local dynamics of quasi-markets * theoretical implications for understanding quasi-markets in education and the public interest * implications for educational policy, if schools are to be more responsive and inequalities lessened The book provides insights into whether pressures for choice and diversity are in the greater public interest, or if they benefit only the few, and suggests a notion of the public-market as a model for analysing public services.

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