Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw: Give headteachers power to fine 'bad' parents

Mr Wilshaw says levy should be imposed on parents who fail to turn up to parents evening or on those who don't enforce homework

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The Independent Online

Headteachers should be able to fine absent and “bad” parents, the head of Ofsted has said.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, who has been in the post since January 2012, said that mothers and fathers should face repercussions for not doing enough to help their offspring’s education.

He also said that children from migrant families were out-performing white, working-class ones, due to a lack of deeply entrenched beliefs that doing well in school is necessary - which he says is evident in the former.

Speaking to The Times about his 26-year-tenure as headteacher in London’s inner-city secondary schools, he said: “I was absolutely clear with parents; if they weren't doing a good job I would tell them so. It's up to head teachers to say quite clearly, 'You're a poor parent'.

“If parents didn't come into school, didn't come to parents' evening, didn't read with their children, didn't ensure they did their homework, I would tell them they were bad parents.

“I think head teachers should have the power to fine them. It's sending the message that you are responsible for your children no matter how poor you are.”

Mr Wilshaw, also known as Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, has worked in schools for 43 years as either a teacher or headmaster. Most recently he was the executive principle at Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney.

He praised the capital for proving that children from poorer backgrounds can do just as well as those who are better off, in comparison with the “variability and inconsistency” across the rest of the country.

“Immigrant communities are doing very well educationally and it should be recognised that they've added value to this country's performance,” he said.

With white British children now doing worst of all, he said, more needed to be done to close the gap.

Criticising some parents for using lack of money as an excuse, the head of the schools watchdog said: “It's not about income or poverty. Where families believe in education they do well. If they love their children they should support them in schools.”

Mr Wilshaw’s comments come ten days after it was revealed that Education Secretary Michael Gove would like tougher sanctions on parents who fail to make sure their truanting child turns up to school on time.

The government minister said he will condemn those who oppose his controversial reforms as not believing that working class children are “intellectually curious and capable of greatness.”

Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told the BBC that "confrontation rarely leads to a positive outcome."

He said that it's reasonable to challenge parents, but that "it's very important that schools engage with their community and with the parent body and they are very aware of the need to do this."

He also implored Sir Michael to "let us get on with the job."

"We're told head teachers have autonomy and then we're told what we should be doing.

"We're getting repeated messages from government and Ofsted telling us what we should be doing.

"Perhaps we should say to Sir Michael, if he believes in autonomy, then let us get on with the job."