UK Parents Will Get Cash For Helping Children With Homework

In the United Kingdom, a new project will be launched next year to reward parents for helping kids with their homework. Starting in 2014, parents will be paid hundreds of pounds to be taught how to help their children with homework as part of a taxpayer-funded program.

In an attempt to raise standards in poor areas, the Education Endowment Foundation will lead a program from which mothers and fathers will receive rewards of more than £600 for attending a new-style parenting academy where they will learn how to improve children's skills in reading, writing, math and science, writes Graeme Paton of The Telegraph.

The program – which will cost almost £1 million – is designed to offer free childcare and meals for parent who will participate. The Education Endowment Foundation is a charity set up with £125 million government funding to increase education standards.

According to a leading MP, it is vital that parents supported children's education but criticized the use of cash to get them "to do the right thing." Also, the move was criticized recently when it emerged that mothers would get £200 in shopping vouchers to encourage them to breastfeed their babies as part of a major new research project.

Robbie Coleman, research manager at the Education Endowment Foundation, told the Times Educational Supplement: "This was a group of local authorities and schools that wanted to do something like this anyway. We are not saying it is right to pay parents. We are not taking a moral view.

"We are saying, if this activity is happening, the key point is that we evaluate it rigorously to find out whether or not it makes a difference."

Initially, the project will target parents from 1,500 families centered around 14 primary schools in Middlesbrough and Camden, North London. Parents of under-11s will attend the academy six times each term – 18 times in the academic year – with each session lasting 90 minutes. They will receive a grant of around £600 for attending every session, although the full value of the awards has yet to be finalized.

The Education Endowment Foundation said the parenting academy would "aim to equip parents with the skills to support their children's learning in numeracy, literacy and science".

Graham Stuart, Conservative chairman of the Commons education select committee said: "If parents will engage with experts to improve their skills, that's great. However, the evidence of efficacy will have to be overwhelming before I can accept that the state should have to pay parents to do the right thing."

Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said he has reservations about simply paying money to parents. "But if the money enabled parents to take time off work in order to attend, it could be very helpful," he said.

Parent and caregiver involvement in UK education has received a fair amount of attention of late. Recently, United Kingdom Education Secretary Michael Gove said the training of social workers needs major reform. He said his own life was transformed by good social workers who took him under their care before he was adopted. Gove also said in an emotional speech that the best social workers deserve to be viewed on a par with doctors, barristers and teachers, but that there's room for improvement in the profession.

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