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April 19, 2005

Parents Rely on Word of Mouth in Choosing Schools

A survey has shown that parents choosing a school for their children rely on the opinions of other parents and a school's reputation in the neighborhood more than information provided by the school. Shinagawa in Tokyo became the first district to allow parents the freedom to choose a public school in 2000, and now about 10% of all schools have adopted the system. The survey, by educational company Benesse, showed that word of mouth among parents is considered the most useful information in making a decision, chosen by more than 25% of respondees (multiple choices were allowed). It was followed by the local reputation or image of current students (24.6%) and expanatory meetings held by schools (18.1%). A lack of bullying at the school was chosen as the most important consideration by 45.5 % of parents, followed by a firm discipline policy (44.8%). Other factors were the quality of the neighborhood (31.9%), the proximity (23.8) and the cleanliness (21.4) of the school. The school's academic standard was surprisingly the least important consideration, chosen by only 15.3%.

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