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Fighting school segregation through information policies? Lessons from Barcelona, Milan and Oslo 

Written by Marta Cordini, Roberta Cucca (Norwegian University of Life Science) e Sheila Gonzàlez Motos (University of Barcelona), the article builds on the materials of Erasmus+ project ECASS – European Cities Against School Segregation .

As previous research has widely shown, school choice has a very relevant role in shaping the intensity and the shape of school segregation dynamics at city level. During school choice process, families look for information, facts and evidence that help or support their choice. The type and the amount of information that families access can differ because of differences in what they look for but also because the availability and accessibility to this information are unequally distributed among families. This information asymmetry is mostly explained by the strategic relationship that passes between middle-class families and the school system. Thus, policymakers face a twofold challenge: first, to democratize access to information about different institutional arrangements and schools’ characteristics, second, to provide balanced and adequate information to reduce school segregation. We focus on this second challenge. Local authorities have made significant progresses and attempts in the last years in using information as a driver to soften avoiding mechanisms or to hinder dynamics of social closure. This paper discusses and compares the information policies adopted in three urban local contexts (Milan, Barcelona, Oslo) which are characterized by different enrolment rules. Through the analysis of the information policies developed in these three cities, we identify the challenges, the strengths and the flaws of the instruments implemented and we critically compare them in relation to the three contexts. The final goal is to define some policy orientation in terms of information instruments that can apply to diverse contexts but having in common the goal of reducing segregation dynamics.