UK & World News
Ofsted Chief: 'Bad' Parents Should Be Fined
'Bad parents' who do not support their children's education - by missing parents evenings or not reading with them - should be fined, the head of the schools watchdog has said.
Headteachers should also be able to impose financial penalties against mothers and fathers who do not force their children to do their homework, says Sir Michael Wilshaw, the Chief Inspector of Schools.
Sir Michael told The Times that being poor was too often used by white working-class families as an excuse for failing to succeed at school.
His comments were made in the context of results which reveal that white children with working-class, British parents often do not perform as well as those from immigrant communities.
It comes after Education Secretary Michael Gove saying that parents will face "stronger sanctions" if they fail to ensure children turn up to school and behave properly.
He said this could come in the form of deductions from benefits.
The Ofsted head said his views were formed from his time spent working as a head teacher in London's inner-city schools.
He told the newspaper: "I was absolutely clear with parents; if they weren't doing a good job I would tell them so. It's up to head teachers to say quite clearly, 'You're a poor parent'.
"If parents didn't come into school, didn't come to parents' evening, didn't read with their children, didn't ensure they did their homework, I would tell them they were bad parents.
"I think head teachers should have the power to fine them. It's sending the message that you are responsible for your children no matter how poor you are."
Sir Michael said some schools in inner-city areas were among the best-performing.
He added: "London is showing that all children can do well, including poor children, and what we need to do is replicate what's happening here elsewhere. There's too much variability and inconsistency across the country."
He said it was important to note that the group that was now doing worst was white British children.
In order to catch up with the world's leading nations, he added, the gap in performance between those children with white British and those with immigrant parents needed to narrow.
"Immigrant communities are doing very well educationally and it should be recognised that they've added value to this country's performance," he said.
Poverty was used as an excuse for failure by white working-class families all too often, he added, saying: "It's not about income or poverty. Where families believe in education they do well. If they love their children they should support them in schools."
Sir Michael also said he supported the reforms to exams planned by the Government and backed a return to the use of textbooks.
He also said he approved of Mr Gove's proposals for radical changes, saying they were "absolutely necessary", and urged head teachers to "get on with it. Stop moaning".