17 Jun '14

News Wilshaw and Gove blame the feckless parents as long as they're poor | Zoe Williams

Heaping fines and opprobrium on those families who are already struggling is poisoning relationships and entrenching divisionsMichael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, wants to fine parents who don't read to their children, don't turn up to parents' evenings or fail to make sure homework gets done. Michael Gove, the education secretary, wants to dock child benefit at source from parents whose kids miss school days for illegitimate reasons. Schools already have the power to fine parents for going on holiday in term time. Gove's suggestion is not so much a new idea as an explosive manifestation of power and ill will, like a ballistic missile launch from Kim Jong-un.In more innocent times, I would assume this was a coordinated move by Wilshaw and Gove to construct a picture in which the main problem with education was feckless parenting, so the main policy levers should be the punishment of fecklessness. However, since we now know something of the depth of their loathing for one another, the conspiracy explanation must be rejected. One of them, and quite possibly both, must actually believe that this will improve, rather than poison, the school-parent relationship. Continue reading...

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