Caring, consuming and choosing: parental choice policy for mothers of children with special educational needs
This chapter is based on a longitudinal study of the experiences of twelve mothers, of primary-aged children with special educational needs (SENs),1 as they went through the statementing2 and school choice process following the introduction of parental choice policy through the 1988 and 1993 Education Acts. Their experiences are illustrative of some of the problems which have arisen in the area of special educational needs policy in the 1990s and of wider tensions reflected in social welfare in England in the 1990s, as central government policy has influenced the domestic division of labour (David 1991). In turn, these individualised decisions about children’s education can affect wider collective patterns of integration. Although parental responsibility for a child’s education was already strongly gendered, the introduction of parental choice policy through the 1988 Education Act emphasised the need for someone to take on the responsibility of school choice. Research suggested that this became part of the existing domestic division of labour. For families where a child has SENs this responsibility became additional to that of carer, with both these roles usually undertaken by women. Mothers now take on the work involved in both statementing and choice of school and in this chapter I explore these themes of choice, caring, and work in relation to these activities.