Get a life: An hour a day keeps dads and sons at play

21st February 2003 at 00:00
Think of the sort of relationship where confidences and hopes are exchanged, support given and jokes swapped. Bet you're not thinking of fathers and sons, are you?

The Department for Education and Skills reckons fathers are one of the keys to improving boys' results and prospects.

The problem, though, is that dad-and-son communication in most families is limited to grunting over the football results.

So last August, the department launched Give an Hour, a project that encourages employers to let fathers spend a paid hour on an educational activity with their 11 to 14-year-old sons - boys in their first three years of secondary school, at a stage when most fathers have lost touch with the curriculum.

Two out of three fathers surveyed last year said work commitments stopped them spending time with their sons, and three out of four would like to be more involved with their sons' education.

The survey of 2,000 parents in England by the British Market Research Bureau found that 72 per cent of mothers are more involved than fathers with their children's schooling, and one in four men never or only occasionally attend parents' evenings.

Meanwhile, the prospects of teachers who are also fathers carving out the department's extra hour to spend with their own children look slim.

As Secondary Heads Association general secretary John Dunford says: "Most heads would say the time was better spent helping a class of 30 children rather than helping one child at home."nbsp;nbsp;nbsp;

To read this article in full, see this week's edition ofnbsp;Friday magazine, free with the TES.

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