Free parenting classes trial to run in England

Parent and child Many parents say they would like more support

Related Stories

Free parenting classes are to be trialled for all parents with children aged five and under in three areas of England, children's minister Sarah Teather has said.

They are intended for parents even if they are not struggling with raising children, she said.

About 50,000 parents in Middlesbrough, High Peak, and Camden will be offered vouchers for the classes from mid-2012.

Labour criticised the government cuts to the children's programme it set up.

'Firm and fair'

The classes, provided by parenting experts, are likely to cover areas such as communication and listening skills, managing conflict and "strengthening positive relationships in the family", as well as the importance of parents working as a team.

There will also be a stress on discipline, with "firm, fair and consistent approaches" encouraged and the importance of "boundaries" being set out for children.

And there will be advice on appropriate play for children's age and development.

Start Quote

Parenting has to be one of the toughest jobs and it doesn't come with a rule book.”

End Quote Sarah Teather Children's minister

Ms Teather said she wanted to get rid of the stigma over asking for help.

"Parenting classes aren't just for struggling families," she said.

"All parents should know it's OK to ask for extra support and guidance when they need it - just as they do when they attend ante-natal classes before their child is born."

The trial will run for two years, with its impact tracked, the department said. It is hoped the results will lead a greater number of parents to seek help and advice themselves.

The government says it is still working on the details but it is likely that the vouchers will be distributed through various routes. It was unknown if health visitors, GP staff or nursery workers would be involved.

Ms Teather added that there was overwhelming evidence that a child's development in the first five years' of their life is the single biggest factor influencing their future life chances, health and education attainment.

"Armed with all this evidence, it is the government's moral and social duty to make sure we support all parents at this critical time.

"Parenting has to be one of the toughest jobs and it doesn't come with a rule book."

'Out of touch'

Shadow children's minister Sharon Hodgson criticised the coalition's policy towards Sure Start - a children's centre network established by Labour in the late 1990s to give more deprived children a better chance in life.

Some of the 3,600 Sure Start children's centres are being cut because the grant that funds them was cut by 11% in last year's emergency budget, and again in the comprehensive spending review by almost the same percentage.

The government also removed the protection from the Sure Start budget, leaving them potentially at risk as councils seek to make up losses to their central government grants overall.

Ms Hodgson said: "Labour is in favour of support for families and children, but the Tory-led government is completely out of touch if they think this is going to make up for the Sure Start centres that are being closed or hollowed out up and down the country...

"This government's reckless cuts programme is kicking away the ladders for the next generation and the closure of Sure Start centres is just another example of this."

Ed Owen, editor of fatherhood website, said: "Every teacher, psychologist and educationalist will tell you that the first years of a child's life are important.

"Some suggest that the first two years are decisive. This does not mean that every child must be schooled, drilled and disciplined to make them model citizens at this young age. No, it means that in the first years children must be loved."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    More prove of the social and moral decay of the nation continues.

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Never mind the "parenting clases", more effort should be placed on educatiion to prevent a lot of them becoming unintended parents in the first place...

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Although many do have parenting skills. The number of small families means that we do not always learn as we grow. I have seen some awful parenting in my job as a Probation Officer. Swearing and hitting is not parenting. This often leads to Social Services intervention where, perhaps, a little guidance would be more cost effective. Most people love their children they just do not know otherwise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    Years ago Grandma and Grandad used to be the......"teachers". The trouble is, todays grandparents are barely out of school themselves. We have a sick,sick country indeed.

  • Comment number 75.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    65. d_jordan
    Classes? How about licenses?

    I like that proposal but I think that the liberals might scream about it plus the legal profession will make themselves even wealthier contesting the multitude of appeal cases that will inevitably ensue from any implemented policy along these rather appealing lines. Some Tory think-tank is probably formulating this type of policy as we type.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    oh and as for 68.ship-of-fools

    your right it is a bit of an assumption, seems the majority of ill deciplined children ive encounterd usual come from the middle class "hes a free spirit we dont have boundries" brigade

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    "14.ady - So as usual, the middle classes will benefit hugely from this freebie while the poorer classes lose out"
    Am I reading this correctly?! You will find that the middle classes are generally NOT the ones who benefit from state help!

    You will find that the middle classes are by far the greatest beneficiaries of state cash.

    Government Jobs. Welfare freebies. The list is incredible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    "Parenting has to be one of the toughest jobs and it doesn't come with a rule book." - children's minister Sarah Teather

    thats a bit rich, theres plenty of governmental guff out there telling me what i can and cant do with my kids?! plenty of rules like no smacked bottoms, 5aday, nothing with even a trace amount of sugar, no taking photos of your own happy child playing in a park.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    #12 Speysideguy.

    I assume you didn't teach English then?

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Put Jo Frost on TV every evening. As well as full length programmes, put little snippets of her during the adverts on all commercial channels.
    She talks sense and commands repect from parents and chilldren.
    It would cost less and probably be more effective than classes and would reach more people, too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    Good idea but as with Sure Start those most in need of parenting guidance are least likely to attend these classes. How about the incentive of benefit penalties for non-attendance for those disinclined to participate? OK there's an assumption being made on my part here but there's a proven link between social irresponsibility & disorder & the "I'm entitled to it all for nothing" mindset.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    We are now deeply entrenched in a generation who are totally reliant on state handouts to live. If we change the system that provides beneficial housing arrangements for those who have children without means of support it's possible that the need for these classes would vanish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    36. ship-of-fools
    "...your whining about paying for the parenting scheme"
    Ah, that right, accuse someone of "whining" or "moaning" etc just because they happen to disagree with your point of view.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Classes? How about licenses?

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    parenting isn't hard, it should come naturally. it's about teaching right from wrong, teaching them respect, discipline & spending time with them, socially interacting with them & being there for them. it is not about leaving them with friends or grandparents whilst you go out & have a social life every night with your friends instead of being with your children & teaching them the values of life.

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    And whose version of the 'rules of childcare' will become the bible?

    The same people who ban playing conkers for health and safety reasons, and favour free expression when littly Johnny is pulling the dog's tail?

  • Comment number 62.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    The parenting classes are not free, they are paid for either by tax payers or by money the government has borrowed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    Perhaps it would be more to the point to teach the chavs how NOT to be parents, i.e. use contraception.


Page 7 of 10


More Education & Family stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.