What can international comparisons teach us about school choice and non-governmental schools in Europe?

Publication type

Journal Article


Publication date

June 1, 2015


All European states have a primary obligation to establish and maintain
governmental schools everywhere, but as the result of political struggle
and constitutional guarantees, they have also allowed and often
financed non-state schools based on special pedagogical, religious or
philosophical ideas. Depending on the level of state grants for
non-state schools, states have more or less the right to supervise these
non-governmental schools and seek to guarantee that the quality of
organisation and teachers are not lower than those in governmental
schools. Using comparable cross-national data for all member states of
the European Union, we first describe four existing basic arrangements
of non-governmental and governmental schools: integrated educational
systems of public and non-state schools, denomination supportive
educational systems, limited-support non-governmental schools and
educational systems with segregated public and non-state schools. Using
the same cross-national data for all member states of the European
Union, we then explore three other topics: parental background and the
choice of non-governmental schools, non-governmental schools and their
cognitive outcomes, and non-governmental schools and their non-cognitive
outcomes. There are important differences between non-governmental-independent (without state grants) and non-governmental-dependent schools (with state grants); that school choice of non-governmental-dependent schools is more related to socially mobile parents, whereas schools choice of non-governmental-independent
schools is more related the reproduction of social classes; that in a
majority of European countries, non-governmental-dependent schools are more effective cognitively than governmental schools, but that non-governmental-independent
schools are more effective cognitively only in a few countries and more
ineffective in a larger number of countries. Also non-governmental-dependent schools are not more effective non-cognitively than governmental schools.

Published in

Comparative Education


Volume: 51







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