‘Bad’ parents should be fined

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!

13 thoughts on “‘Bad’ parents should be fined

  1. Bad parents should be reported to social services THEY have the expertise to visit and coerce parents to become better in their role. Imposing fines on poor people who may not be educated themselves is NOT the answer! The route problem has to be looked at….educating the parents first so that they can inspire their children to do well in school to get better employment prospects….making work pay. But if the government persists in penalising those who work and pay taxes they have no chance in inspiring anyone…after all why work when you get more in benefits?? why do well in school if you can get anything you want on benefits and see people who work struggle!

  2. Parents do need to take responsibility for their children. A child is a responsibility, not the governments responsibility.
    Blaming poverty for poor parenting is not an excuse either. There are many nations who are a lot worse off than England, yet education is important and children attend school without any problems.

  3. Fining parents is not the answer. Parents who are not in full time work should be made to take functional skills ( or whichever qualification level is considered appropriate) in Maths and English. Trainee teachers could incorporate teaching some of these courses into their training as extra placements.. Or University students who are on language or maths courses and have ‘free’ days could gain credits reducing their tuition fees as a ‘ payment’ for teaching classes. This way parents who attend will be taught the skills they need /equip them skills to help their own children with school work. I think in a lot of cases it is not that parents don’t want to help- its that they don’t read well themselves/ can’t do maths and maybe thats why they don’t have jobs. So educating them is a win:win situation. I know some would say they should have learned while they were at school but they didn’t and the cycle needs to be broken.

  4. Just too silly for words.This man has lost touch with reality.Has he any idea what goes on in schools?
    The parent school relationship is very important and this daft idea will damage that.How exactly does he intend to organise and enforce it?

  5. It is time Education was taken out of politicians hands, lets have an independent education board run by teachers. The number of ‘initiatives’ by unqualified ministers who are more concerned with scoring political points, rather than truly educating students makes life stressful for everyone trying to keep up with constant reforms and changes.

  6. “Bad parents should be reported to Social Services.” Does Sian not realise that those who put in place systems where parents are reported for trivia, or really for not having middle class values, can take full responsibility when the next horrific child neglect case comes up. You know the ones where children have cigarette burns, are starved or worse. And the social services have been kept busy with follow-ups on children who haven’t submitted homework. I

  7. Not all parents are capable of helping with homework. If your own education was poor or you’re severely dyslexic, it’s hard to help with work that you find difficult yourself. I’ve seen letters home from schools that are written at such a high reading level that poorly educated parents can’t understand them.

    Similarly, it’s impossible for parents to help children with homework that involves looking up information on the internet if they don’t have an internet connection. This problem doesn’t just affect poor children – it also affects children in temporary housing (esp bed and breakfast) and children in rural areas with poor connectivity.

    Let’s try teaching children better at school before we blame failure to learn on the parents. When homework is set, there should always be the option of a homework club where children can do the work at school with help from staff.

  8. This idea is just away to put up more barriers between teachers and parents. I think more schools that use text/email & phone calls home to parents, give’s a much more friendly warning to parents about what is happening in school.

  9. How will fines help parents who, perhaps have poor literacy or numeracy skills themselves? Some parents have poor experiences of their own time at school, and don’t value academic education. (Sometimes they are justified in that viewpoint…) Some parents work late & come home shattered, and they HAVE to do that to make ends meet. Some children will refuse to do homework no matter how great their parents are… And, just occasionally families have other commitments at evenings or weekends. Scout or Guides camps and holidays are also valuable learning experiences, but leave kids no time at the weekend to do homework…. and leave the kids shattered. BUT, as a parent (& NQT) I would always choose to send my kids to those, at the expense of occasional HW. I will be expecting my fine…

  10. Really bad idea that will make the situation worse. Parenting isn’t easy and everyone finds it hard at times we need to try and help each other and be patient and understanding and find out what we can do to help parents do things better.

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