Parents of excluded pupils: customers, partners, problems?

Anne Pirrie, Gale Macleod, Gillean McCluskey, Mairi Ann Cullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Citations (Scopus)


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)387-401
Number of pages14
JournalEducational Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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