23 SES 11 A, Policies of School Choice 2
Finland has been well-known not only for the success of PISA-tests, but also for the ability to reduce the inheritance of educational inequality and to increase social mobility. The comprehensive school system has emphasised the equality of opportunity, manifested in the domination of public school system and school districts, equal quality of schools and limited possibilities for parental school choice.
Like many other European education systems, in two decades the Finnish comprehensive school went through some fundamental changes to confront better new models of governance and individualisation (Ozga et al. 2011; Green et al. 1999). After these changes Finnish local authorities have developed distinctive policies and practices concerning local models of selection and admission (with various potential to exercise parental choice), specialisation and diversification of schools, and competition between schools, among others. (Kalalahti & Varjo 2012; Ylonen 2009.) Emerging diversification of schools and learning outcomes are overlapping with the difficulties of the Nordic welfare model and increased societal polarisation. In this novel situation, school choice strategies have become an important figure in the resurgent class struggle.
It is predictable that the upper levels of society are more able and willing to use the possibility to choose a school for their children. The lower classes do not have the urge or the cultural capital to make choices, but settle for the neighbourhood school with a rickety reputation and lack of upper level, well-educated families. The distance from middle-class school culture constricts the working class families’ school choices (Reay 2007). The cultural distance between the family and higher education is apparent in educational aspirations and attitudes; working class families have an atmosphere that value short, vocational education, early transition to work and relatively low interest in comprehensive school choices.
This presentation focuses on lower and working class families, their faith in education, school choices and the schooling objectives. We present outcomes of the survey focusing on family educational strategies and school choice (Parents and School Choice, Family Strategies, Segregation and School Policies in Chilean and Finnish Basic Schooling, PASC). Our research task is to profile the educational strategies of lower class families by answering following questions: What kinds of educational aspirations the lower classes have in education system where the educational paths are formally open to all (with no tuition fees at any education level)? What kind of future they see plausible for their children? What kind of educational attitudes they have in a society that promotes high education level and lifelong learning?
Green, A., Wolf, A. & Leney, T. 1999. Convergence and Divergence in European Education and Training Systems. London: Institute of Education. University of London. Kalalahti, M. & Varjo, J. 2012. Tasa-arvo ja oikeudenmukaisuus perusopetukseen sijoittumisessa ja valikoitumisessa [Equality of opportunity and admission policies in basic education]. Kasvatus & Aika [Education & Time], 6(1), 39–55. Ozga, J., Dahler-Larsen, P., Segerholm, C. & Simola, H. (eds.) 2011. Fabricating quality in education. Data and governance in Europe. London: Routledge. Reay, D. 2007. “Unruly Places”: Inner-city Comprehensives, Middle-class Imaginaries and Working-class Children. Urban Studies 44(7), 1191–1201. Ylonen, A. 2009. Specialisation within the Finnish comprehensive school system: Reasons and outcomes for equity and equality of opportunity. Saarbrücken: VDM Verlag Dr. Müller.
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