Discipline drive could see schools applying for parenting orders

The expert group set up to advise the government on effective school discipline is considering allowing schools to apply for parenting orders, the prime minister has revealed.

Speaking after a visit to a family centre in Watford, Tony Blair announced plans for a “major extension” of the use of parenting contracts and orders, adding that bad parenting was intrinsically linked to antisocial behaviour and could no longer be considered simply a private matter.

“Poor parenting can lead directly through to antisocial behaviour,” he said. “The new powers will apply to children at a much earlier stage, not just when they have committed a criminal offence or been excluded as is currently the case but if they are about to get involved in antisocial behaviour. This is about prevention, not just punishment.”

Parenting orders offer a programme of activity to support parents and define their rights and responsibilities, such as ensuring their child attends school. They can also stop children visiting certain areas and ensure a child is supervised at home at night.

Expressing support for allowing a wider range of authorities to apply for parenting orders, Blair revealed that the power could also be extended to schools under proposals being considered by the school discipline leadership group.

The group, whose remit includes advising on how to improve parental responsibility for children’s behaviour, is due to report to the government by the end of October.

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