Page last updated at 10:15 GMT, Sunday, 28 June 2009 11:15 UK

Court threat for pupils' parents

Hoodies
Ministers want to toughen up the rules over the behaviour of pupils

Parents of unruly pupils could be taken to court by teachers under plans to be announced by ministers.

The initiative will be used to support existing home-school agreements which set out what is expected of parents and their children in the education system.

Schools Secretary Ed Balls says the move is aimed at a small number of parents who disregard the agreements.

The proposal will be included in the wide-ranging schools white paper to be unveiled on Tuesday.

Jail sentence

Schools will have more power to get parenting orders which can include making parents go to classes on how to control their children.

Further sanctions include a £1,000 fine and prison if they fail to pay.

BBC education correspondent Kim Catcheside says head teachers complain that some families are able to break the rules with impunity.

Mr Balls told the Sunday Mirror: "Every parent has a responsibility to back our teachers and make sure the rules are enforced.

There must be real consequences for those parents who don't take their responsibilities seriously
Ed Balls
Schools Secretary

"Schools already have home-school agreements which set out the school's rules and should make clear to parents what is expected of them and their children.

"But heads tell me that not all parents are willing to co-operate. And when pupils and parents break the agreement, it's hard to enforce it.

"That has to change. There must be real consequences for those parents who don't take their responsibilities seriously."

The home-school agreements cover issues like homework, uniform and getting children to school on time.

Also expected in the white paper are plans for one-to-one lessons for children lagging behind in English and maths, and less centralised control over targets for numeracy and literacy.

Ed Balls told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that teaching literacy and numeracy for an hour a day had "worked brilliantly" and that 100,000 more young people were now getting to the required standard.

"We have won the argument - everybody knows that literacy and numeracy hours work. Parents want it. Head teachers think it is hugely important," he said.

But he said it was "important to evolve" and schools should have more freedom to decide how to spend the ring-fenced money.

Parenting lessons

He also said "entitlement" proposals would match a set of pupil guarantees - such as providing one-to-one tuition when a pupil falls behind - with guarantees to parents about information and reporting.

A report card system would provide "more accountability," he added.

In April, the Conservatives outlined plans to ban classroom troublemakers and give powers to protect teachers.

Party leader David Cameron said schools would not be "penalised" financially for removing persistently badly behaved children.

Meanwhile, there could be compulsory parenting lessons for parents of children being considered for Asbos.

Home Secretary Alan Johnson told the News of the World: "I want to make sure that more consideration is given to the parents' role when a teenager gets into problems and is being considered for an Asbo.

"Parenting Orders are not punishments - they are a way of giving adults the skills they need to help them fulfil their responsibilities.

"If a teenager is in danger of going to go off the rails, then one of the best ways to deal with it is to give parents more support at an early stage."

The move is expected to be announced later this year.



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