If you're a BBC Radio London fan, you'll have heard us chatting to Nikki Bedi, sitting in for Vaness Feltz, on this morning's show. The topic? Comments made by Ofsted director Michael Wilshaw to the effect that schools should have the power to punish what he called 'feckless' parents - those who fail to turn up to parent / teacher meetings or who don't provide books or support their child's learning.
The Daily Mail covered his comments like this:
"Head teachers should be able to fine ‘feckless’ parents for refusing to come to parents’ evening or failing to supply books, according to the Chief Inspector of Schools."
"Sir Michael Wilshaw said he would ‘love to have the legal backing’ to allow teachers to punish parents who were ‘not supporting’ their childrens’ schools."
Sir Michael Wilshaw also said he had sent 'nasty letters' to parents when he was a head teacher, and had even accused people of being bad parents.
As I said on-air, I think his comments are unhelpful, and that the whole notion of fining parents is unworkable anyway. Are head teachers going to carry out inspections of children's homes in order to establish whether there are enough books on the property?
Following on from the Department of Education ruling that teachers have the right to 'confiscate, keep or destroy' unhealthy items of food from chilren's lunch boxes, I think we're in danger of finding ourselves in a war between parents and teachers.
What's more, fining parents totally overlooks the socio-economic reality that must be at play in many homes where parents aren't buying books, showing up for school meetings, or supporting their child's learning.
What's your view on this story? Should head teachers have the right to fine parents who are deemed not to be supportive of their child's learning?