The cluster analysis was based on the variables 5 or more A-C GCSEs, 5 or more A-G GCSEs, and percentages of authorized and unauthorized absences. The advantage of a cluster analytical procedure is that it enabled all four variables to be used in the construction of the typology and avoided the problem of what might be an arbitrary decision about cut off levels on the distribution of the 5 A-C GCSEs indicator. Our use here is absolutely exploratory. In other words we don't want to reify the emergent typology as somehow 'quantitatively absolute'. What matters is if the clusters generated by numerical taxonomy do correspond to popular perceptions. Such perceptions do include assessment of 'school order', indexed here by absences, as well as school success, indexed by the GCSE variables.

Copyright Sociological Research Online, 1996