Faith Primary Schools: Better Schools or Better Pupils?

45 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2009  

Stephen Gibbons

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Geography and Environment

Olmo Silva

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Geography and Environment; London School of Economics (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance; Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Abstract

We provide estimates for the effect of attending a Faith school on educational achievement using a census of primary school pupils in England. We argue that there are no credible instruments for Faith school attendance in this context. Instead, we partially control for selection into religious schooling by tracking pupils over time and comparing attainments of students who exhibit different levels of commitment to religious education through their choice of secondary school and residence. Using this approach, we find only a small advantage from Faith primary schooling, worth about 1 percentile on age-11 test scores. Moreover, this is linked to autonomous admissions and governance arrangements, and not to religious character of the schools. We then go on to show that our estimates vary substantially across pupil subgroups that exhibit different levels of sorting on observable characteristics into Faith schooling, and provide bounds on what the 'Faith school effect' would be in the absence of sorting and selection. Pupils with a high degree of observable-sorting into Faith schools have an age-11 test score advantage of up to 2.7 percentiles. On the other hand, pupils showing a very low degree of sorting on observables have zero or negative gains. It appears that most of the apparent advantage of Faith school education in England can be explained by differences between the pupils who attend these schools and those who do not.

Keywords: faith school, primary schools, pupil achievement

JEL Classification: I20, J24, Z12

Suggested Citation

Gibbons, Stephen and Silva, Olmo, Faith Primary Schools: Better Schools or Better Pupils?. IZA Discussion Paper No. 4089. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1369835

Stephen Gibbons (Contact Author)

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Geography and Environment ( email )

Houghton Street
WC2A 2AE London
United Kingdom
[44] (0)20 7955 6245 (Phone)
[44] (0)20 7955 7773 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.lse.ac.uk/people/s.gibbons@lse.ac.uk/

Olmo Silva

London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) - Department of Geography and Environment ( email )

Houghton Street
WC2A 2AE London
United Kingdom

London School of Economics (LSE) - Centre for Economic Performance

Houghton Street
London WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)

Schaumburg-Lippe-Str. 7 / 9
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

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