'She backed rebels in seeking a more robust code on secondary admissions'

March 3, 2006

Anne West, an 11-plus failure, blossomed in a comprehensive and now helps shape education policy

Since the publication of the Government's Education White Paper last October, research by Anne West of the London School of Economics has regularly fed into the heated debates on admissions, selection and parental choice.

This month, the British Journal of Educational Studies publishes another paper by Professor West on school choice and equity. It argues that schools responsible for their own admissions are more likely to cream off bright pupils and that admissions should be the responsibility of a local authority or non-partisan body.

Professor West's research helped to temper the original proposals in the Education White Paper. This can be seen in the resulting Bill, published this week. She supported rebel arguments for a more robust code on admissions, and the Government has recognised these in the Bill.

Her interest in parental choice and selection began when she was at the Inner London Education Authority. She studied "banding" - in which schools grouped together to ensure that each had a balanced intake - and the impact on admissions after the practice ended. When Ilea was abolished, Professor West moved to the Centre for Educational Research at the LSE. She is now its director.

Professor West benefited from the comprehensive system. She failed the 11-plus and went to a technical school; but when the school became comprehensive, she prospered and went on to gain a first-class degree in psychology at University College London. She followed this with a postgraduate certificate in education at Goldsmiths, University of London.

"I originally thought of being an educational psychologist, but was drawn to research," she said.

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