Parents’ views and government rhetoric about schooling: beyond simple notions of exclusion and marginalisation

PhD Thesis

Citro, M. 2018. Parents’ views and government rhetoric about schooling: beyond simple notions of exclusion and marginalisation. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Faculty of Education
AuthorsCitro, M.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification namePhD

Against the background of continuing political rhetoric promising better outcomes for disadvantaged children and advocating the importance of parents’ roles, this study gave voice to a group of parents from a disadvantaged community. The author’s experiences, as a headteacher in challenging schools, of disadvantaged children’s outcomes not improving coupled with diminishing parental voice, provided the passion which drove this study. The participant parents’ children attended a non-selective secondary school within a highly selective authority in England. Through an innovative combination of a Facebook group and follow up interviews, the parents chose and discussed schooling issues which they identified as relevant to their experiences. The themes interpreted from the parents’ discussions were used to analyse government speeches in order to explore the extent to which there existed a relationship between parents’ views and government rhetoric.

Interpretations of the parents’ views, and their relationship with government rhetoric, highlight three contentions which add to current discourses about disadvantaged parents’ experiences of schooling. Firstly, notions that exclusion and marginalisation cause parents’ disadvantage, do not fully explain the complexity of the participant parents’ views and their relationship with government rhetoric. Secondly, the thesis proposes the existence of two separate fields of schooling. An ambitious field which the parents consciously resist and are excluded from, and a less ambitious field focused on disadvantage, which the participant parents’ views are most aligned with. Thirdly, the existence of two separate fields of schooling is argued to evidence political intentionality, which is demonstrated by speeches adopting deterministic and less ambitious rhetoric when focused on issues of disadvantage. Finally, the thesis adopts a notion of social justice which advocates parents’ participation and roles for organic intellectuals (Gramsci, 1971), as a route to ameliorating experiences and outcomes for disadvantaged parents and children.

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Publication process dates
Deposited04 Sep 2018
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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