Abstract for: Informing Secondary School Decision Making within a competitive market environment

The study proposes a systemic view of state secondary (high) school choice by evaluating the impact of school comparison data (beyond performance statistics currently provided) on the well being of child and parent experiencing a competitive urban admissions environment using system dynamics. The admissions process into year 7 when transferring from primary (elementary) to secondary education can be complex and sometimes convoluted when prospects of changing studies and friends can impact child well being while subject to examinations for example. Add to this instability in family relationships and the three fundamental balancing loops for providing children with stability are all threatened leading to potential dynamic imbalance upon changing school. System Dynamics provides a broad and encompassing technique to evaluate such problems by considering feedbacks emanating from the social and emotional well being of those involved. Feedback models are suitable to summarise an interconnected system for family decision making that incorporates views from council, health and school support systems. In order to balance the effects between variables, potential policy options considered include sharing schools comparison data for improving the focus, timing and frequency of the feedback for families compared against removing competitive enrolment from selective schools entirely, thereby avoiding stresses by eliminating choice.