Home-school relations, home learning and parental engagement are prominent educational policy issues, constituting one aspect of a wider parenting support agenda that has suffused the landscape of social policy over the last two decades. This article examines a parenting support initiative distinctive for its use of link workers in mobilising ‘hard to reach’ parents to engage more effectively with their children’s education. Drawing on qualitative data gathered during the evaluation of the initiative, the article frames link worker–parent interactions as a form of everyday government and pastoral power. Link workers constitute a new educational pastorate; through friendship, care and control they exercise pastoral power over parents. Building on recent research into the role of ‘pastors’ in producing neoliberal subjectivities within the National Health Service, the article foregrounds their efforts to foster responsible, self-disciplined agency in parents. Link workers, it is argued, contribute to a responsibilisation and pedagogicalisation of the family, which has produced new figures of mothering/parenting, reconfigured the meaning of the home and extended the scope of state intervention into family life.
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