Call for compulsory parents' evenings

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The Independent Online

Education Editor

Parents should be compelled by law to attend school to discuss their children's education, Professor Michael Barber, an education adviser to both the Government and Labour, will say today.

Prof Barber, of London University's Institute of Education, will tell the North of England's education conference in Gateshead that child benefits should be taxed to provide pounds 200 education vouchers for the poorest 4 million of the country's 8 million schoolchildren.

The vouchers, which would be handed out at the compulsory parents' evenings, would have to be used for books, computer software or time at a homework centre.

Prof Barber will say that parents should be given a statutory duty to attend their child's school every six months.

Irresponsible parents who fail to do so would be replaced by a "mentor" from the community.

At the meetings, parents and teachers would agree targets for children's schooling and discuss the responsibilities of schools and parents.

Prof Barber, who advised the Labour Party on its standards paper published last month and is advising Gillian Shephard, Secretary of State for Education, on how to improve schools, will say: "If we want a learning society we have to do something about children whose parents lack either the will or the means to support their education in this way."