Reinforcing Parental Responsibility: Parent Support Advisors

Parents will get extra help in tackling their children’s poor behaviour or attendance at school, and encouraged to play a more effective role in supporting their teachers, Schools Minister Jacqui Smith confirmed today.

Trials of Parent Support Advisers to give one-to-one support to parents needing extra help will start in some 600 primary and secondary schools in 20 local authorities from September, backed up by £40 million funding.

Speaking at the annual conference of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), Jacqui Smith said:

“A positive relationship between home and school, parent and teacher, is essential in delivering the best education possible for young people and ensuring good behaviour and regular attendance.

“Delivering parental responsibility is at the heart of our education reforms – support for those parents who have not traditionally engaged with education, or need extra help in meeting their responsibilities, as well as sanctions for those that simply will not.”

Following on from a widely-welcomed recommendation for pupil-parent support workers from the expert Steer Group on improving pupil behaviour, the Government will develop the role and deployment of Parent Support Advisers in partnership with the professional associations.
Parent Support Advisers could give one-to-one support to parents needing extra help with issues such as:

* school behaviour: working with parents to ensure that their child is properly supervised during exclusion, continuing with school work, not treating it as an ‘unofficial holiday,’ and arranging support such as parenting classes or one-to-one assistance from education and social services to tackle behaviour problems;{mospagebreak}

* school attendance: making calls to parents on the first day of an absence to ensure there is a proper reason for it; underlining the importance of their child’s attendance at school; and arranging support from education welfare services to nip early truanting behaviour in the bud;

* engaging with schools: arranging home visits and ‘meet the teacher’ sessions for families new to the school; promoting attendance at parents’ evenings; and encouraging parents to volunteer for school activities to encourage effective dialogue between parents and teachers about their child’s progress.

Other proposals in the Education and Inspections Bill will also underline parent’s responsibility to work with schools and ensure their child’s good behaviour and attendance.

Parents will have to ensure that if their child is suspended from school they are properly supervised, backed up by fines for a new offence of allowing a child to be found in a public place during school hours without good cause. They will also face mandatory interviews with the school before their child returns to ensure that they will take action to ensure their future good conduct.

Schools also will be empowered to apply for court-imposed parenting orders to compel parents to support schools in tacking their child’s bad behaviour. And parenting contracts will be used as a pre-emptive measure to make parents tackle their child’s problem behaviour before they have reached the point of being excluded from school.