Heads call for weekly lessons for parents

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Lessons on how to be a good parent should be set up around the country to stop the rising tide of violence in the classroom, head teachers declared yesterday.

Lessons on how to be a good parent should be set up around the country to stop the rising tide of violence in the classroom, head teachers declared yesterday.

Delegates at the National Association of Head Teachers' annual conference in Telford called for every council in the country to set up weekly classes for parents to stress the importance of telling their children the difference between right and wrong. Heads told how children as young as four were arriving at nursery and infant schools with a vast knowledge of swear words, but were unable to string two or three normal words together.

Irene Cox, from Sedgemoor Manor Infant School in Bridgwater, Somerset, spoke of one young mother taken to task for her child's swearing in school, who said: "We use the f-word all the time at home, but we don't swear."

David Gray, head teacher at Babbacombe Church of England School in Torquay, Devon, said violence and disruption were becoming "endemic".As a result, teachers often had to spend 75 per cent of their time in a lesson dealing with the one child that was disrupting it rather than the 29 behaving well.

"Parents want it both ways," he said. "They don't want the school to be too hard on their offspring, but they are quite happy to leave their entire personal, social, health and sex education to teachers."

Mr Gray said there were antenatal classes for mothers, but that precious little help was offered afterwards.

He called on all local education authorities to set up weekly classes "which mothers and babies from all social levels should be expected to attend", aimed at teaching them how to bring up their children.

The conference went on to demand extra cash from the Government to cope with disruptive pupils - so staff could be trained in how to deal with them and "safe" areas could be set up away from mainstream classrooms where disruptive pupils could be taught.

The call for more help in tackling disruptive pupils comes just 24 hours after head teachers complained of a growing number of assaults on them by parents.

NAHT officials revealed they had dealt with more than 50 cases of assault or abuse by parents in the past three months, including one where a mother rang the head teacher of a London primary school at home and issued death threats.

David Hart, general secretary of the NAHT, called for new powers so heads could exclude the children of violent parents on the grounds that the relationship between the family and the school had broken down irretrievably.

Delegates called on Ruth Kelly, the Secretary of State for Education, to stop talking about more "parent power" in schools and start talking about persuading parents to act more responsibly instead.

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