UK Education Chief Wants to Fine ‘Bad’ Parents

The head of the UK's Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills, (Ofsted) Sir Michael Wilshaw, says "bad parents" should be fined for not being properly involved in their child's education.

In a piece written for The GuardianWilshaw declared that there is no excuse for families who live in poverty not to take part in their children's education.

Specifically, he said that "head teachers" should be able to impose fines on parents who miss parents' night, do not make sure that their children have done their homework, and who do not read to their children. He does not understand how white impoverished families blame their income level for their children's poor performance in school, when immigrant families, on the same socioeconomic level, have children who are doing very well in school.

Wilshaw's statements came in the wake of Education Secretary Michael Gove's admonition that parents should face stronger sanctions if they failed to have their children in the classroom or if their children misbehaved in school. The sanctions might include deductions from benefits. Wilshaw related his own experience as a head teacher:

"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 head teachers 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."

He did point out that some inner-city schools were among the best performing. Wilshaw wants to close the gap between white working class students and those from other ethnic groups who are performing well in school, presumably because of parental involvement and "entrenched beliefs that doing well in school is necessary".

Wilshaw goes as far as saying if parents love their children they should support them in their schools, according to Natasha Culzac of  The Independent.

"Immigrant communities are doing very well educationally and it should be recognized that they've added value to this country's performance," he said.

He is tired of hearing poverty being used as an excuse for failure. Wilshaw, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, has served in the field of education for 43 years, as a teacher or a head master. The queen's watch dog says that he will condemn those who do not agree with his reforms as not having faith that working class children are "intellectually curious and capable of greatness".

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told the BBC that "confrontation rarely leads to a positive outcome … It's very important that schools engage with their community and with the parent body and they are very aware of the need to do this. Let us get on with the job."

Currently, parents face a fine of £60 if his child is absent from school without a valid reason. Katherine Sellgren, writing for the BBC, reports that Wilshaw says that at this time, white British children were doing worst of all in school attendance.

In the same interview Sir Michael said he agreed, along with the government, in the reforms to the GCSE and A-level exams. and called for the "return of textbooks".

06 19, 2014
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