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"I'm just there to ease the burden" : the parent support adviser role in English schools and the question of emotional labour

Taylor & Francis
Publication Date
  • Lb Theory And Practice Of Education


In 2005, the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) announced a £40 million investment in a new school support worker role, the Parent Support Adviser (PSA), for 20 English Local Authorities (LAs). A pilot project ran from 2006-08, and resulted in the establishment of 717 PSAs in 1,167 schools. The national evaluation of the project forms the evidential basis of this paper, with interviews conducted with 69 PSAs, 85 PSA line managers, and 105 parents, and a data base recording casework with nearly 21,000 parents. This paper focuses on the nature of the PSA role as the first centrally funded parent support role in English schools. The theoretical framework provided by the concept of ‘emotional labour’, and the development of the concept represented by the 4Ps typology, provides the conceptual structure. This paper argues that although the characteristics of the PSA role appear to place it within the category of work requiring emotional labour, PSAs, and parents, regard that aspect of the role in a positive light. For the PSAs, there was little evidence that emotional labour necessary for the role of PSA led to dissonance between role and worker, or alienation from the product of PSA labour.

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