• special educational needs;
  • home–school relations;
  • labelling;
  • blame;
  • attitudes

Previous research on home–school relationships and blame has concentrated on the experiences of parents with children with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties (BESD). This has led to the voices of educational practitioners, as well as parents of children with other special educational needs, being neglected. This article, by Karen Broomhead of Lancaster University, details part of a larger study examining socio-emotional aspects of home–school relationships between parents of children with special educational needs and educational practitioners. The study reported in this article explored perceptions of blame via semi-structured interviews with 15 educational professionals and 22 parents of children with various special educational needs. The findings reveal that parental experiences of blame and guilt were influenced by the nature of their children's special educational needs, which consequently influenced parental focus on obtaining ‘labels’ of special educational needs for their children. The implications of these findings for educational practitioners are discussed.