Censure won’t help parents

Head teachers’ leader David Hart has accused parents of
irresponsibility, blaming them for failing to socialise their
children and for condoning truancy. His remarks will undo much
excellent work between many schools and parents to build trust and
work in partnership to the benefit of children.

Parents do take their responsibilities very seriously and in
turn parents need to be taken seriously. The vast majority of
parents are doing the best they can in the face of enormous
challenges and significant social changes.

If we are serious about improving outcomes for children and
young people, we need to invest in supporting their parents and the
wider extended family who are so important in caring for children,
especially when things are tough.

The solutions to helping parents to do their best are varied,
but must start by enabling parents themselves to articulate their
needs, working with them in partnership to identify solutions that
will work for them and for their family. Sadly, all too many of the
parents who contact us have tried to get help and support from many
professionals and agencies, and feel let down by professionals with
little time or expertise in actually listening to parents and
working with them.

Parenting is the most important job any of us do, but there is
no induction training, no on-the-job training, and then plenty of
blame if things don’t work out. Parents we work with can and
do make changes to their relationships with their children, and
this in turn affects their children’s behaviour. This is
because we work from their strengths, their aspirations and their
desire to do their best. Parents don’t condone truancy but
are at their wits’ end about how to get their child to
school. Sometimes just building parents’ own confidence works
– but sometimes it is simply not possible to persuade a teenager to
attend an institution that holds absolutely no interest for

It would be useful for schools if parents ensured their children
were adequately prepared for what the school is offering – but it
might be rather more useful for children and young people if the
school were able to offer a more rounded approach, and to value the
many interests and strengths that children do bring with them to

Dorit Braun, chief executive Parentline

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