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NEW POWERS TO COMPEL FAILING PARENTS TO TAKE LESSONS

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Parents of unruly children will be sent on residential courses to teach them how to raise a family, according to Th...
Parents of unruly children will be sent on residential courses to teach them how to raise a family, according to The Observer (p 1; feature, pp 10-11).

Under a dramatic extension of the state's power to intervene in family life to be unveiled this week, education chiefs will be able to force parents whose children have been expelled from school to take parenting lessons. The new powers will be controversial with accusations of a 'boot camp' approach and fears of damaging trust between parents and teachers if schools are seen to be judging families on how they bring up their children.

However, ministers will argue that it is unfair to children not to tackle inadequate parenting and that 'tough love' measures can divert them before they slide too deep into trouble. 'We will try to help first and, if that help is refused, we look to a legal sanction,' said a spokesman for the Department for Education and Skills. The move, which is to be introduced on Friday, springs from alarm about anti-social behaviour.

Last week a 13-year-old girl became subject to an order banning her from going into Leeds city centre or travelling on a bus unless accompanied by a responsible adult; wearing hooded tops that disguise her face; and mixing with other named children.

Under the new-style parenting orders, adults whose children are considered at risk of getting into trouble could be sent on weekend courses on how to control their offspring. Education authorities will also be able to obtain court orders against the parents of expelled pupils to tackle the root causes of misbehaviour, backed by the threat of a£1,000 fine for failure to comply. They could also draw up 'parenting contracts', setting out what each side will do to help a child to improve; contracts will be voluntary.

Until now, youth offending teams could only seek parenting orders against children convicted of a crime, but from Friday they can intervene with those merely considered at risk of getting into trouble.

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