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(Re)constructing the Head Teacher: Legal Narratives and the Politics of School Exclusions

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School exclusions are a site of political and social contestation and in recent years statutory reforms and popular demands have focused on increasing the autonomy of head teachers. This article explores this trend and questions why, in a culture of human and children's rights, head teachers have such extensive powers within their schools and why law has, to a large extent, failed to provide a check on these powers. It does so not by doctrinal analysis of domestic and human rights law but, rather, by enquiring into how legal narratives construct the role of the head teacher and by locating the practice of exclusions within a broader social and political context. It suggests that demanding that the head teacher be unfettered in his or her decisions relating to exclusions ought not to be understood as a policy of ‘non-intervention’ or a return to a ‘reassuring’ past but, rather, as a contemporary policy that reinforces the construction of excluded pupils as marginalized non-citizens.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Law, Birkbeck College, University of London, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HX, England, Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2005-09-01

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