This article critically examines the dominant neo-liberal strategy for enhancing accountability in education. If professional accountability empowered providers at the expense of the public regarded as passive clients, then market accountability atomised the public as consumers and, paradoxically re-empowered the sectional interests of providers and contractors. A model of ‘holding to account’ needs to be complemented by practices of dialogue that allow stakeholders and citizens to give and agree accounts about the purpose and process of public services. Such democratic citizenship values voice, deliberation and collective governance and stands in contrast to the dominant tradition that kept parents at a distance from schools. Three studies are described that illustrate parents wanting to enhance their voice, take part in deliberative forums, and participate in the collective governance of schools. The discussion concludes with the next steps to improve practice in parental participation.
- parental participation
- professional accountability