Government's poverty tsar proposes new GSCE in parenting to help disadvantaged

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Teenagers would get the opportunity to sit a GSCE examination in good parenting under plans being drawn up by the Government's poverty tsar.

In an interview with The Independent, Frank Field argued that the innovation would help to prepare teenagers for adult life and improve their personal skills.

Mr Field, a former Labour welfare minister, said: "The idea would be to see whether we can build up knowledge about parenting, life skills and life chances through science, through maths, through English literature and so on, which you could then take out of those other subjects and award as a separate GCSE.

"There would not be another course in it, and it would not be imposed on the schools – it would be available for them."

Mr Field said visits to schools had proved to him that there was a strong demand from youngsters for such practical instruction.

He predicted schools would want to offer the qualification because of the demand from pupils.

"Schools would have an interest because I think you would find quite an engagement of young people, because that's what young people say they'd like to know about, and, as soon as word got around that one school was doing it, there would be pressure on others." He added: "[Young people] would also get a bonus that it is an extra GCSE."

He also set out plans for new parents to be required to attend their nearest Sure Start centre to register for child benefit.

Once there they would go through an "initiation ceremony" in which their responsibilities in bringing up a child, and the support they could receive from the state, are explained.

Mr Field yesterday suggested the ceremonies could amount to a secular christening, with babies formally welcomed into their communities. The ceremonies would be carried out by trained volunteers and could include non-religious readings and songs.

Mr Field stressed he did not want them to be compulsory or to replace religious christenings and argued the cost would be minimal.

In a report to David Cameron this year, Mr Field is expected to recommend that Sure Start centres are given a much wider role in tackling poverty. His stance could ruffle feathers among Tory ministers, some of whom believe middle-class parents are better at taking advantage of Sure Start's facilities than the less well-off.