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education, geography of

  The study of spatial variations in the provision, uptake and outputs of educational facilities and resources. The provision of educational resources involves both fixed facilities and the wherewithal to use them. Thus, the location of play-centres, schools and colleges is important not only to the structuring of educational provision but also, because such facilities fall within the class of public goods, to the structured inequality in provision which characterizes many societies. Linked to this is the pattern of expenditure on education, which varies at many scales and can be used progressively in positive discrimination programmes.

The uptake of facilities reflects a range of factors that operate at a variety of scales, from the individual and the home through the neighbourhood, the school and its classrooms to the authority responsible for provision and even the region and nation. Many studies have shown that students\' aspirations and performance reflect not only their parents\' aspirations and the nature of their home environment, but also the characteristics of their peers in class and school (and thus the characteristics of the school catchment area), and the quality of the school and its teaching — including the resources available (Bradford, 1991). Thus the concept of the neighbourhood effect (see also contextual effect) has been central to much analysis of the geography of educational outcomes, for which specialist statistical procedures have been adopted (see multi-level modelling).

Recent attempts to improve school quality have included arguments that parental choice and preferences will be enhanced by the provision of standardized information on school performance (standardized tests, for example, as well as other indicators, such as truancy rates), and that schools will be forced to improve in response to those preferences and choices. Schools in England are now the subject of published league tables on such matters. (RJJ)

References Bradford, M.J. 1991: School performance indicators, the local residential environment, and parental choice. Environment and Planning A 23: 319-33.

Suggested Reading Bondi, L. and Matthews, M.H., eds, 1988: Education and society: studies in the politics, sociology and geography of education. London: Routledge. Coombes, M. and Raybould, S. 1997: Modelling the influence of individual and spatial factors underlying variations in the levels of secondary school examination results. Environment and Planning A 29: 641-58.



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