Negotiating with multiculture
This chapter focuses explicitly on parents’ discussions of ethnic diversity. These are put in the context of policies around multiculturalism and integration in which schools have been a key policy site. Parents were more likely to consider diversity as something related to race or ethnicity rather than class. The chapter contends that we lack a differentiated vocabulary for discussing diversity and ‘mix’. Furthermore, there are distinct discourses around ethnic diversity circulating in the different areas, with parents in the area with the least ethnic diversity, in particular, expressing reservations and fears about increasing diversity. Parents of BME children have a particular stake in seeking out schools with an ethnic mix as they see those schools as potentially offering their children security against the racism and racialised othering which they might face in more white schools (and which the parents themselves may have experienced in their own schooling in Britain). Thus the book argues that it is critical that we consider questions of both class and race when understanding parents’ views about school choice, but that we should also be attentive to ways in which ideas and imaginations of place frame parents approaches to schooling and education.