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Growing threat from parents

Should heads be able to exclude the children of abusive mothers and fathers? Karen Thornton reports

CHILDREN should be excluded if their parents are aggressive towards staff and other pupils, a headteacher said this week.

Monica Galt, a National Association of Head Teachers' council member, said it was the only way to stop a small but increasing minority of parents undermining schools' behaviour and discipline policies.

Her comments came as David Hart, the association's general secretary, told its annual conference in Torquay that more needed to be done to rein in "feckless" parents and pupils.

He saidthat most of the blame for bad behaviour lay with "a significant, and growing, number of parents, who had abdicated responsibility".

He said: "The time has indeed come to stop treating parents as a 'no go area'. They have control of their children for far more time than the school.

"Nine out of 10 teachers say that bullying parents are a bigger threat to discipline and harmony than thuggish pupils. Too many parents are simply unprepared to accept that their children are in the wrong. Too many parents, aided and abetted by legal support groups, are turning exclusion appeal hearings into quasi-judicial confrontations that would do credit to Court One at the Old Bailey."

But he said docking parents' child benefit should only be a policy of last resort, because well-behaved siblings of troublesome pupils could be affected.

The Government should wait to see if new initiatives already in the pipeline - such as extending parenting orders - proved effective, he added.

Monica Galt, head of the 500-pupil King's Road primary in Manchester, told The TES: "If a parent is openly aggressive in front of their child and others and demonstrates bad behaviour themselves then the child should be excluded.

"How can we possibly discipline that child if our policies have been undermined by the parent?

"These parents always do it in the morning first thing, when there are a lot of other parents and children coming into school. They shout and yell and are quite aggressive to teachers and heads.

"The majority of good, supportive parents don't like it that their children have to witness their teachers being publicly verbally abused."

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