Parents of excluded pupils: customers, partners, problems?

Gale MacLeod, Anne Pirrie, Gillian Grassie McCluskey, M. A. Cullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article presents data drawn from interviews with a range of service providers and with the parents of pupils permanently excluded from alternative provision in England. The findings are considered in the context of recent policy developments in the area of children and families. These include the neo-liberal framing of parents as customers who are able and expected to exercise choice in respect of their children’s education. We explore this notion with reference to situations in which parents were confronted with very limited options. The interviews with service providers illustrate the complex and contingent nature of their relations with the parents, as well as fundamental inconsistencies in the way the latter were regarded. It appeared that service providers’ perceptions were partly shaped by the degree to which parents appeared to comply with their suggestions, and by the level of resources (financial, personal and social) parents had at their disposal. However, whether parents were perceived as customers, partners or problems seemed largely contingent. The authors conclude that it is in the complexities of the inter-relationships between service providers and parents that the fault-lines of some of the key tenets of contemporary social policy are revealed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)n/a
Number of pages0
JournalEducational Review
Issue number4
Early online date19 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • parents
  • partnership
  • choice
  • school exclusion
  • anti-social behaviour


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