Yiyang Gao

Department: Department of Social Sciences and International Studies
Discipline: Sociology and Philosophy
Research Centre/Unit: Q-Step Centre

Project Summary

Research topic: An Investigation of Ethnic Segregation in English Schools

As part of broader concerns regarding social inequality and exclusion in multicultural England, ethnic segregation of the school-age population in communities and schools remains a subject of policy concern. For a full picture of the segregation experience of the school-age population in both schools and neighbourhoods, we need to know at which geographical scale segregation happens and what the drivers are. Treating segregation as a multiscale phenomenon, this study uses a decomposition approach to study differences in ethnic school segregation in England across space and time. The contributions are two-fold. First, this study distinguishes segregation taking place within and between local educational authorities (LEAs). Segregation between LEAs is primarily driven by immigration, while segregation within LEAs is affected by both ethnic diversity and socioeconomic factors. Second, this paper examines how changing ethnic diversity, together with other factors of policy concerns, collectively affects the direction of school segregation. This allows us to better tell whether local authorities go through an exacerbation of substantial segregation. I find schools in most areas have seen an increase in racial diversity and a sustained decline in segregation in the past two decades, including some northern towns that were considered "spaces of failed multiculturalism". The cross-sectional comparison illustrates that more than half of the school segregation in London and East Midlands takes place between local authorities. This reflects the spatial concentration of particular ethnic groups in certain local authorities within these two regions, primarily driven by immigration. Within each local authority, schools in London and the East Midlands do better than those in northern towns at reflecting local ethnic composition. In other regions, school segregation predominately occurs within local authorities. Schools in Yorkshire and The Humber are found with particularly high levels of segregation. The high school segregation in the north possibly reflects its residential segregation, which is related to the overcrowding and the socioeconomic disparity.

Supervisory Team

I work with Dr Alexey Bessudnov and Dr Chris Playford at the Q-Step Centre. 

Wider Research Interests

Ethnicity, immigration, spatial mobility, educational inequality