July 24th, 2009
(Telegraph) – All parents will be forced to sign “contracts” to ensure their children behave at school, the Government has announced.
Pupils and their families will be required to agree to the deal – setting out minimum standards of behaviour and attendance – before the start of term. Contracts, known as Home School Agreements, will also establish parents’ responsibilities for the first time.
They face court action and possible fines of up to £1,000 for repeatedly breaking rules.
The contracts will become compulsory in all English state schools under plans laid out in a Government White Paper.
Ministers suggested that “good” parents would be able to complain about other mothers and fathers who fail to ensure their children behave.
Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary, said the changes would help stop a single student disrupting the education of his or her classmates.
“If the large majority of parents are doing the right thing but a small minority do not engage you can have one lesson for 30 kids disrupted by one child,” he said.
“Every parent will have to, as part of the admissions process, say they take on board the obligations in the Home School Agreement, and every parent will be expected to reaffirm that every year.
“If other parents feel that the HSA is not being enforced against other parents they will be able to tell the local education authority.”
HSAs are already in widespread use. They are currently imposed on the parents of unruly children, forcing them to take responsibility for their behaviour.
But under new rules, all parents of children starting school for the first time will be required to sign them, the Government said.
It will set out rules on behaviour, attendance, school uniform and homework. Parents will have a duty to ensure children meet the tough code.
Ministers have already announced plans to toughen up the contracts.
Under the White Paper, parents may be hauled before the courts by local authorities if they repeatedly break the contract.
They can be served with civil “parenting orders” by magistrates’ courts, forcing mothers and fathers to attend parenting courses or counselling sessions and ensuring children are at home at night or kept clear of bad influences. Orders are backed by fines of up to £1,000.
The details of the contracts form part of the updated Youth Crime Action Plan, published on Wednesday by the Home Office, the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Children, Schools and Families.
Mr Balls added: “Heads will be able to say to the recalcitrant parents, if you do not sign this or make sure they do the homework, or support discipline, then we will take that as evidence in the magistrates’ court.”
Source: Telegraph Co UK