Researchers who questioned 120 parents of 10 and 11-year-olds in two inner London boroughs found that in 41 per cent of cases it was mothers who chose the school. Only 5 per cent of fathers and 7 per cent of children took the decision on their own.
Twenty-seven per cent of the interviewees said that the decision had been taken jointly with their partner whereas 15 per cent said that mother, father and child were all involved.
The research, which was presented at last week's AERA conference, was undertaken by Ann Edge and Anne West of the London School of Economics and Miriam David of South Bank University. The parents were representative of the social and ethnic mix of their areas but most were mothers.
Perhaps surprisingly, only one family had not read any secondary school brochures and two had not visited at least one school. Three-quarters said they had visited three or more. Almost half the parents had sought information from other parents of secondary-aged children and two-fifths had consulted their child's primary head.
More AERA reports next week