A study of 130 white middle-class familes in London revealed that education professionals are less likely to be put off state schools by scare stories about standards and violence, even if they were from a wealthy and privately educated background.
"They have a greater knowledge of the realities of state schooling and fewer irrational fears," said Professor David James of the West of England university, author of the study which will be published next year. "They know that media stories about low standards only apply to a minority."
More than half of the parents surveyed had worked in education; 60 per cent of them were or had been governors. One mother advocated sending children to a school in special measures. "They've got tons of money, lots of extra teachers, and you're quids in. As far as I'm concerned that's the time to send your child," she said.
Ethnic diversity was a strong "pull" factor. Amanda praised her son's "incredibly ethnic range of friends". "It's not something that most people of my generation would have," she told researchers.
However, children had a mixed response to their parents' stand. Some said they felt isolated because of their background and friends had gone to other schools. About 13 per cent of London pupils attend private schools, almost double the national average.
Community, capital and calculation, Professor David James et al, UWE Leader, 20