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‘Teachers know best’: low-income families and the politics of home‐school relations in Singapore

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Much Anglo-American and European literature describes relations between low-income groups and public sector institutions as characterised by disenfranchisement and distance ‐ particularly within critiques of neoliberal policies and imaginaries. This article draws on in-depth interviews with 12 low-income families to explore why there are unexpectedly close home‐school relations in Singapore. Three reasons grounded in families’ perceptions of the state and school are elucidated: (1) competence ‐ of the Singapore state and its teachers in preparing children for success; (2) care ‐ of the state and teachers towards children’s wellbeing; and (3) communication ‐ frequent dialogue resulting in collaborative childrearing approaches between home and school. However, while these can contribute to close, collaborative home‐school relations, the wider politics and power dynamics of these relations ‐ as well as their effects on families’ lives ‐ is worth further unpacking.
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Keywords: Singapore; home‐school relations; low-income families; neoliberalism; state

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Cambridge, UK

Publication date: March 2020

This article was made available online on December 5, 2019 as a Fast Track article with title: "‘Teachers know best’: low-income families and the politics of home–school relations in Singapore".

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