Discourses of Home Education and the Construction of the Educational ‘Other’

Harriet Pattison


This paper considers the discursive construction of the educational ‘other’ through home education in England and Wales. Taking the view that language is a political tool (Fairclough, 2003), this paper explores how the space of ‘other’ education is discursively created from both within and outside home education. Using Fairclough’s critical discourse analysis (CDA) methodology, a variety of texts (including official documents, Local Authority websites, the media and home educators’ own words) are analysed.  Discursive strategies of universalism, normalisation, self-proclamation and self-censorship are identified and considered. It is argued that these strategies are instrumental in creating and maintaining the separation and difference which is used to politically position home education and home educators. The paper concludes with the argument that genuine educational plurality is partly a matter of discursive practice and that changing patterns of discourse around home education may be a way of increasing diversity, inclusion and opportunity within education.


Pattison, H. (2018) Discourses of Home Education and the Construction of the Educational ‘Other’. Educationalfutures, [online] Vol. 9(1). Available at: https://educationstudies.org.uk/?p=9710 [Accessed 10 Aug, 2022].
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