Parents could be fined if excluded pupils make trouble on streets

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The Independent Online

An investigation into school discipline warned that some secondary pupils saw exclusion as a holiday in which they could roam streets and make trouble.

The idea of punishing the parents is in line with government policy for truancy, which has been criticised for penalising people - often single parents - who already find it difficult to cope.

But Jacqui Smith, the Schools minister, said parents must take some responsibility if their children were out of control.

"When I was teaching, parents would come and say 'I can't do anything with him'. Parents in that position should be offered support by the school, but the quid pro quo is that they have to take responsibility for their child's behaviour.

"It's likely that by the time a child is excluded, considerable support will have already been offered. It's then reasonable to say that exclusion is a punishment. We expect the school to set work when somebody's excluded. It's reasonable to expect the parent to make sure their child is not running around the local shopping centre."

Ms Smith suggested the penalties should be the same as for parents who failed to take action when their children were playing truant - a £50 fine which doubles after 28 days, or prosecution in a magistrates' court in extreme cases.

A report on school discipline by a group headed by Sir Alan Steer, a London headmaster, said parents should be responsible for a child's behaviour for the first five days after their exclusion - but if they were barred for longer, the school or local authority should take over.

Richard Garside, of the Crime and Society Foundation, countered: "Surely the challenge is to make sure troubled children get a decent education, not kick them out of school and fine their parents if they misbehave."

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