Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT said: “The chief inspector is right to identify the academic performance of students from 'white working class' backgrounds as a cause for concern. He is also right to highlight the vital role that families play in helping their children to learn. Schools can't do it alone.
"There are certainly times when you need to get tough with families that persistently refuse to help their children make the most of school. You have to set clear boundaries and have high expectations. However, we do remain sceptical of the power of fines to reliably change behaviour in these circumstances.
"If these parents were making rational calculations about the pros and cons of their actions, they wouldn't be undermining their children's education in the first place. Fines will risk being ignored and unpaid; costs risk being passed on to the children themselves, reinforcing the cycle of poverty.
"We may need these powers as last resorts but we should not feel that we have found a simple solution to a complex problem. Outreach into troubled families is critical - visiting them, discovering the barriers and building trust. None of these will be helped by an adversarial climate.
"Head teachers do see their role as stretching beyond the school gate; they do get out there and lead in the community. Recognition and support for this would be helpful."
Page Published: 18/06/2014