How would you feel at the thought of going round to a problem family's home and telling them: 'You're bad parents?'

 

I think - were I a social worker or headteacher - I would feel queasy at the thought of going round to a problem family’s home and telling them bluntly: “You’re bad parents.”

The number of public servants visiting our hospital accident and emergency services might spiral if too many followed this latest call from chief schools inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw to the letter.

Similarly, I doubt whether too many neighbours would relish the prospect of going round and getting the family out of bed - even if they were to be offered incentives.

It is a tricky problem to know how to deal with the situation. I expect Sir Michael might consider me to be a bit namby-pamby if I were to advocate going round and explaining in more reasoned terms what the benefits would be from getting up and making sure their children were ready for school. A diplomatic approach, though, would be far better than one which provoked a punch-up on the doorstep.

If it failed, then you would have to move to sanctions - fines for truancy and, in extreme cases, taking children into care. But it would still be preferential to try it.

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