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Schools fining "bad parents"

Image from The Guardian online (link below)

It's another one of THOSE news stories! 

Schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw wants to hit unengaged Mums and Dads in the pocket if they don’t read to their kids or turn up at parents’ evening. - The Wright Stuff

Any one else think this is the wrong track to go down? If you've read my blog before you'll know how much time and effort we put into Jack's homework projects.You all know how we feel about reading to our kids in this family too, and that reading it certainly a really big part of who our Jack is. 

Tar all parents with the same brush?

We're a low income family. Some of the White British that are listed in these news stories. And yet Jack is up there, one of the top in his class for literacy and numeracy. We are lucky, the hours that my hubby and I work mean that there is virtually always one of us at home. We can - and do - put those hours in to our kids. 

But even though I think some people maybe could do more with their kids, I doubt fining them or cutting Child Benefit will change anything. You are either inclined to spend your free time with your kids, or you're not. Some parents simply do not HAVE the spare time and cannot be there as much as they would like because of work hours. Maybe they should pack in their jobs, live off benefit, and that will teach their kids the importance of education! Oh, wait, hang on.....

What is a "Good" or "Bad" parent?

And exactly how would schools judge who is a good or bad parent? I take the kids to school & nursery in the morning. I attend the parents evenings. I turn up at reception with the school trip money, milk money, lunch money, extra curricular activities money. I share the pick up duty with my hubby, and once a week my mum will collect the kids because we're both working. Does that mean that my hubby, who does not go to the parents evenings because he's at home minding the other kids, is a bad parent in the eyes of the school?

And am I suddenly a bad parent for not listening to Jack read every night because I am massively pregnant, hot, and exhausted by the time the kids come in from school. I'm liable to fall asleep while he reads to me, so he reads to his dad, or skips a night! (He's top of his class for reading, he can read to him self for an odd evening) Have our "previously established rolls" suddenly reversed? Am I now the bad parent, and hubby the good?

What if I worked full time? 9am - 5pm Mon - Fri. I wouldn't be able to do the school run, attend school events, parents evenings would be incredibly tricky too as the slots are a "first come first served" basis and once the post 5pm slots are taken they're gone. Imagine if we BOTH worked those hours! Would hiring a Nanny and getting them to do the school run, parents evenings, and homework then make ME a good parent? Even though I wasn't doing any of the parenting they are taking into consideration?

Who decides?

In order to determine the TRUTH behind who is a negligent parent, and who is simply working themselves into the ground to keep the family financially afloat, there would need to be significant investigation into the family. A parent who doesn't care will not cooperate. One who does care, but spends 20 hours out of every 24 working simply wont be able to cooperate. Should they both be fined?

Who would do the investigation? The school? A home based version of OFSTED...? Ha, can you imagine an "OFSPAR" (Office for Standards in Parenting) - funded, naturally, by all the fines taken from Failing Parents.

What is to stop a failing school from blaming the parents, instead of looking at their own issues and problems?

Another Way

There MUST be a better way of encouraging and helping parents to get actively involved with their kids education. The school Jack goes to (and Tom too from September) seems to have it right. Sure, Jack is only 6, and he has homework. But it's good stuff! Work sheets which he can do on his own (with supervision / checking one it's done) reflect the work they have been doing in class that week. The Creative Homework Projects, which he gets each half term and I feature on my blog, are simply amazing. There is always a wide choice of homework tasks to choose and many or a few of as the children want, so there is always something that appeals to each child. And surely, by the same token, each parent. I am as excited as he is when he gets his new project sheet! I find myself wishing homework was that much fun when I was a kid. Maybe I would have done more.

Ahh.... Have I just hit the nail on the head? The school produces fun, interesting, interactive homework projects, that don't cost money (unless you want to spend it), and here are we, parent and child, excited and keen to learn. Even though we are low income white Britons.

What the papers say:

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