Must try harder: Gove to punish parents of slacking pupils

Education secretary Michael Gove
Education secretary Michael Gove

Parents will face punishments for failing to ensure their children turn up to school “ready to learn and showing respect for their teacher”, Michael Gove warns today.

The Education Secretary vowed to drive up school standards “higher than ever before” as he set out an uncompromising vision, railing against what he believes is a culture of low expectations in the classroom.

As well as hitting out at teachers who “set children up to fail” by refusing to think they might be intellectually curious or capable of greatness, the Tory Minister insisted mothers and fathers must take responsibility for their child’s behaviour or face sanctions.

In a speech to the Policy Exchange think tank he said: “We need to ensure that those parents who don’t play their part in ensuring their children attend school, ready to learn and showing respect for their teacher, face up to their responsibilities. We will, later this year, be outlining detailed proposals to ensure parents play their full part in guaranteeing good behaviour and outlining stronger sanctions for those who don’t.”

Mr Gove’s hardline approach to schooling has seen him clash repeatedly with teaching unions, who claim his curriculum shake-up is a “personal ideological crusade” that fails to address what is best for pupils.

But he dismissed suggestions that his changes are too demanding and made clear his reforming zeal will not falter.

“I believe we have to embrace reform, lean in to the future, set standards higher than ever before,” he said.

“I want every child to be able to go to a state a school which excels, which nurtures their talents, which introduces them to the best that has been thought and written, which prepares them for the world of work and adult responsibility, which imbues them with the strength of character to withstand life’s adversities and treat other humans with courtesy and dignity, which gives them 
the chance to appreciate art and culture, to enjoy music and drama, to participate in sport and games, which nurtures intellectual curiosity and which provides a secure grounding in the practical skills the modern world requires.”

He said he knew what “setting up children to fail” involved.

“It’s sending working class children to school without daring to think they might be intellectually curious and capable of greatness, denying them access to anything stretching or ambitious, setting expectations so low you can 
never be surprised by someone’s potential, giving children flimsy photocopied worksheets instead of proper rigorous textbooks, feeding them a diet of dumbed-down courses and easy to acquire qualifications, lowering pass marks and inflating grades to give the illusion of progress, shying away from anything which might require grit, 
application, hard work and perseverance and then sending these poor children into the adult world without the knowledge, skills, character and accomplishments they need, and deserve, to flourish.”