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Tuesday, 31 July, 2001, 07:57 GMT 08:57 UK
Parents 'must take responsibility'
parent taking children to school
Parents are children's "first educators", PAT suggests
The teaching profession cannot be expected to repair the damage from the breakdown of family relationships, a teachers' association warned.

The Professional Association (PAT) of Teachers urged parents to take more responsibility for their children's education as "first educators".

I very much regret the increasingly common public assumption that schools, and therefore teachers, have created our nation's ills and yet at the same time hold the key to their healing

Geraldine Everett, PAT chairman
Parenting was an intrinsic factor in children's development, national chairman of PAT Geraldine Everett told delegates gathered for the association's annual conference in Cardiff.

Parents had the greatest contact with the child and their role and responsibilities must be acknowledged, Ms Everett said.

"I very much regret the increasingly common public assumption that schools, and therefore teachers, have created our nation's ills and yet at the same time hold the key to their healing," she told conference.

"The profession cannot and should not be held entirely responsible for the moral failure of society at large - it cannot and should not be expected to repair all the damage from the breakdown of family relationships, or the crime and corruption in our midst.

Family values

"It seems that the remit for teachers has developed exponentially as we have witnessed increasing violence, the decline in family values, the adverse role model influence from some areas of sport, the media and those in public life."

"Teachers were caught up in a stream educational initiatives" and yet were expected to deliver academic and moral excellence.

Geraldine Everett
Geraldine Everett urged parents to fulfil their role and responsibilities
"We cannot work in isolation but in tandem with children's first educators - we should not be designated as substitutes while others abrogate responsibility," she said.

Private funding

Ms Everett also questioned the use of private funding in education.

"The steady infiltration of private business into education is quite likely to lead to a greater emphasis on profit and loss - profit for the businesses and loss for education," she told delegates.

Such privatisation of state schools ran roughshod over the profession.

"Somehow I am left with a sneaking feeling that the new initiatives are less to do with benefiting pupils and more to do with rhetoric and placating the electorate, more akin to putting expensive wallpaper over the cracks than ensuring that the foundations are secure," she said.

AS-level chaos

The "fiasco" of the introduction of the AS-level curriculum had been a mess and young people now faced too many exams and tests, Ms Everett said.

Whatever the spin put on it, the fact remains that we have a serious recruitment and retention problem

Ms Everett
"Over-examining damages not only the players but has an adverse effect on the curriculum as a whole, squeezing out creativity and play."

Ms Everett also drew attention to the issue of recruitment and retention in the profession.

The PAT conference finishes on Thursday.

The school standards minister, Stephen Timms, and the shadow education secretary, Theresa May, are expected to speak at the conference.

See also:

27 Jul 01 | Education
Parents learn to tackle misbehaviour
09 Jul 01 | Features
Learning to be better parents
23 Mar 01 | Education
Parents warned: No 'aggro' in school
28 May 01 | Education
Violent parents in 'school rage'
06 Apr 00 | Education
Heads fear violent parents
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