Voluntary action has long played a role in state education, with parentteacher associations being one of the most common forms of charitable organisation in England. However, education policy, driven by a growing free-market discourse and policy initiatives such as localism, is increasingly pushing for greater voluntary action. This article explores the distribution of voluntary action in primary schools in one local authority area in England. Drawing on primary data from 114 questionnaires completed by head teachers and secondary data from the financial records
(2013/14) of 380 primary schools, we find evidence of considerable uneven dispersal of voluntary action between schools. These disparities are related to factors including school size, location, leadership ideology and the socioeconomic profile of the school. The consequence of this uneven
distribution is that schools catering for more affluent communities are more likely to have additional resources than those with poorer profiles.
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