The Guardian in the U.K. reports on a study finding that parents in England are unhappy with the past three decades of “school choice.” By contrast, parents in Scotland are satisfied with their local public schools.

Three decades of school choice in England has left parents feeling more “cynical, fatalistic and disempowered” than their peers in other parts of the UK, according to new research.

A study comparing parents in England, where families can name up to six state schools for their children to attend, with those in Scotland, where children are generally assigned to local state schools, found Scottish families were still more likely to be satisfied with the outcome.

While 75% of parents in England said they had enough choice of schools, 76% of those in Scotland said the same, despite their lack of explicit choices within the admissions process.

Parents in England were more likely to express frustration and disempowerment, with several calling the current school choice policies an “illusion”, in surveys and interviews conducted for the research published in the Journal of Social Policy.

Aveek Bhattacharya, the chief economist at the Social Market Foundation and the author of the paper, said: “This research adds to the growing evidence that school choice policies have failed to bring the benefits they were supposed to.

“For all the emphasis that policymakers in England have put on increasing choice, parents south of the border are no happier with their lot than their Scottish counterparts. Indeed, many are disenchanted and dismayed.

“These findings show that parents offered a range of options for their children’s school are no happier than parents who have less choice about education.”