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Parents 'should have more duties'

ALMOST nine in 10 teachers believe ministers' plans to improve schools will fail unless parents play a bigger part in their children's education, according to a new opinion poll.

But they also want to stop parents' influence passing the gates. While nearly half of teachers believe that the Government's policies are preventing schools from developing good relationships with families, most resist a widening of parents' role within school.

Just a week after Education and Employment Secretary David Blunkett announced that "city academies", to tackle urban underachievement, could be run by parents, three-quarters of the teachers surveyed opposed parents having more say in the running of schools, with 77 per cent also against parents having an input into teacher appraisal.

The poll of more than 900 primary and secondary teachers by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers and the Institute of Public Policy Research, a left-of-centre think-tank, will be seen as a warning to ministers that schools cannot raise standards alone. Many teachers believ the Government has encouraged parents to demand too much. "Government policies have created unrealistic expectations in many parents," one primary teacher said.

Another added: "A good teacher has always fostered good relationships with parents - the Government is in danger of undermining this by allowing some over-enthusiastic parents too much say."

Most of the teachers questioned acknowledge that the majority of parents want to help their child's learning but do not know how.

However, teachers believe the boundary between their rights and those of parents has become too blurred. Almost three-quarters want parents' legal responsibilities for their child's education to cover more than just attendance. And an overwhelming majority (87 per cent) believe parents should take prime responsibility for personal, social and health education.

"Parents need to be reminded that whatever school can teach, the effectiveness of PSHE and citizenship depends on the examples that are practised and reinforced in the home," was a typical view.

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