Teachers have a responsibility to tell “bad parents” that they are not bringing up their children properly, according to the chief inspector of schools.
And they should be backed up by a “village” of “good citizens”, paid to knock on other people’s doors and make sure that their children are out of bed in time for school.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, who was the executive principal of Mossbourne Community Academy in inner London before becoming head of Ofsted, said: “You know the old phrase, the child is brought up by the village? Well, communities have got a huge part to play in supporting families and our most vulnerable children.”
He said that this included sending clear messages to parents who were failing their children.
“As a headteacher, I used to tell parents that they were behaving badly and that they were bad parents,” Sir Michael told the House of Commons Education Select Committee today.
“It didn’t often go down extremely well, but nevertheless that was my responsibility, and it is the responsibility of social workers.”
Sir Michael was giving evidence to the committee following Ofsted’s recent report into the state of local-authority children’s services. His comments have already got the TES Community talking.
The report, published in October last year, found that fewer than half of the services inspected were judged to be “good” or better at protecting children from harm.
“Thousands of children live in families where abuse of alcohol and drugs, domestic violence and mental illness are a daily part of life,” the report stated.
While Sir Michael told the select committee that social services must improve, he also said that all communities inevitably included members who were willing to help their neighbours. And, he said, the government could encourage such people by paying them for their services.
“How do we incentivise good citizens, good people, good family members to engage with the worst and most difficult members of society?” he said. “That is a policy issue for government.
“How do you financially incentivise those people to get up in the morning, knock on the neighbour’s door and say, ‘Your children are not up yet. They have not had their breakfast yet. Why aren’t you taking them to school?’”