Sir Michael Wilshaw says heads should be able to fine parents who don’t do enough to help their children’s education, but teaching unions are sceptical.
Ofsted’s chief wants headteachers to be given powers to fine parents who fail to attend school meetings or help their children with homework, the Independent reports.
Speaking about his 26 years as a head, Sir Michael said: “If parents didn’t come into school, didn’t come to parents’ evening, didn’t read with their children, didn’t ensure they did their homework, I would tell them they were bad parents. I think headteachers should have the power to fine them. It’s sending the message that you are responsible for your children no matter how poor you are.”
Teachers’ leaders gave his suggestion a lukewarm welcome. The NUT’s Christine Blower said: “Not satisfied with the endless criticism of teachers, Sir Michael Wilshaw has now turned his attention to parents. What he fails to recognise is that poverty can have a huge impact on the lives of children and their parents. It is a plain fact, not an excuse.”
Headteachers’ unions were also sceptical, with NAHT’s Russell Hobby questioning whether fines would change behaviour: “If these parents were making rational calculations about the pros and cons of their actions, they wouldn’t be undermining their children’s education in the first place. Fines will risk being ignored and unpaid, costs risk being passed on to the children themselves, reinforcing the cycle of poverty.”
Malcolm Strobe, NAHT’s general secretary, said that schools need to have a positive relationship with parents: “We’re not convinced that fines would actually help, because that’s a coercive system to force parents to engage. We’re not sure that heads want to be in a position of fining parents for children not completing their homework. That doesn’t help anyone.”
Should heads be able to fine ‘bad’ parents or would this reinforce the cycle of poverty? Share your views with the Eteach community!