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Many parents 'afraid' to speak to teachers;News;News and opinion

MORE than one in five parents is afraid of talking to their child's teacher too often, for fear of being branded a trouble-maker, according to a new government survey.

However, more than 40 per cent said they spoke to teachers at least once a week, according to the MORI poll of 1,000 parents of 5 to 11-year-olds.

Concerned that many parents feel lost for words at the prospect of talking to teachers, the Government has launched an initiative to help them support their child's learning.

Under the scheme, parents will be given a "hit-list" of key questions to ask teachers about their child's progress. These include finding out what their child is good at, what topics they find difficult and how they can help.

Parents are also advised: "If you feel nervous about meeting teachers, remember that they probably feel the same way about meeting parents."

The advice will appear on a new parents' website at www.

parents.dfee.gov.uk.

The website also aims to help parents understand the national curriculum and how best to help their child with homework. The MORI poll revealed that one third of parents were worried about helping their child with homework in case they "got it wrong".

However, much of the information will also be available in leaflets as only 28 per cent of parents have access to the Internet at home or work, said officials.

The Government also plans to print advice in a free magazine for parents - currently being piloted in the north-east and south-west of England - available in GPs' surgeries, post offices and supermarkets.

The MORI survey, which was commissioned by the Department for Education and Employment, revealed that 41 per cent of parents wanted to know how to help their children with maths.

In response, a new booklet has been published as part of Maths Year 2000 to emphasise the everyday ways parents can help their children with maths - in shops, at home and in family games.

The survey also revealed that nearly one in four parents believes their child's education is not their responsibility and thinks it should be left entirely to schools.

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