AbstractThis article argues that schools in decline in educational markets may not be as ineffective as neo-liberals assume. Rather, recent New Zealand research suggests that the fortunes of schools in the marketplace largely reflect the characteristics of their student intakes. Schools in decline typically have poor intakes. Such schools may be less attractive to parents than middle class schools. Schools with poor intakes also have to cope with often overwhelming learning and pastoral needs which constrain their ability to offer demanding academic programmes. Allowing such schools to fail and close therefore appears to be a case of punishing the victim. State intervention is required.
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