Page last updated at 00:50 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 01:50 UK

Parents tackled over discipline

Children fighting
Behaviour is seen as crucial to improving standards

Schools' Secretary Ed Balls has promised to tackle parents who refuse to accept that teachers have a right to discipline their children.

Some headteachers give unruly pupils detentions only for the parents to march into class to complain, he says.

He has asked behaviour adviser Sir Alan Steer to suggest ways heads in England can work with such parents.

He talked about discipline and the running of schools at a meeting of head teachers in Birmingham.

At the National College for School Leadership conference, he said: "Schools are doing a fantastic job of turning around poor behaviour, which is crucial to improving results.

"However, we need parents to continue to play their part.

"When I talk to heads they say behaviour is one of their main concerns. Some talk of giving detentions to pupils only for the parent to come in and demand their child is let off.

"So whilst the vast majority of parents work really well with schools, a small minority are not supporting heads to maintain discipline."

Discipline is seen as a key way of improving standards in schools where few pupils achieve good GCSEs.

'Agressive approach'

Sir Alan Steer, head of Seven Kings High School in Ilford, Essex, is reviewing school behaviour policy for the government.

He will look at whether parents are more likely to support schools on discipline if they receive regular online reports about their children's behaviour.

And he will look at helping schools handle complaints so parents' genuine concerns are respected without undermining the authority of teachers, the government says.

Shadow Minister for Schools Nick Gibb said: "Although a small minority of parents sometimes take an aggressive approach to their child’s school, the majority of parents are very supportive but feel let down by a growing level of poor behaviour in the school system.

"It is wrong for Ed Balls to blame his lack of success in tackling poor behaviour in our schools on parents.

"The government needs to give headteachers the power they need to exclude persistently disruptive pupils, rather than simply passing the buck."

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