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 139.

    WHat a good idea I lived in a very violent house my mother was a nurse my father an electrcian but my mother used a knife on my sister i had pokers hit on me had plates smashed on my head when i just woke up would of got stabbed but i grabbed the knife in time so just my hand was cut 70 s I love my son but didnt know how to be a good dad as i hadnt a clue but had plenty of break downs.Great idea

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Same old sound bites. The government introduce a policy probably called something else under Labour and Labour criticise it. No wonder people can't be bothered with politics! The mantra behind it is good but I seriously doubt that the people who really need it will attend. If they introduce a penalty for non attendance that might have an impact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    Many parts of parenting, from how to bathe a baby, to effectivley controlling a teenager is not instinctive; it is taught. For generations it has been taught by the support of familes, such as granparents giving the parents advice on what to do. These days, for many people there is not the family support and therefore, not the family teaching, lets hope these classes will do what families are not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    It would perhaps be better to plan for parenting licences.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    When Ms Teather has brought up two or three children to become law-abiding, happy adults making a positive contribution to society, I might take seriously her lectures on parenting."

    You don't have to be a parent to know what is acceptable and non acceptable behaviour. Look at Supernanny.

    Message to Just_a_Point: I rest my case.

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    Absolute RUBISH. Nanny State gone bananas!

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    Why are parent classes required, who was in government when there parent's were parents of then? Not long ago Grandma was the mothers guardian who spoke with authoritative voice.... not today though! Trouble is some of the children today don't know who their parents are or they never see them!

    That's politicians for ya' who put their hands on their heart and announce they care for Britain.

  • Comment number 132.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    We don't have extended families, support networks so potential mums and dads don't get to learn about caring for newly born and young children. I can pick up infants, change nappies, feed them, etc..because I grew up with babies from my extended family around me. So, this is a great idea - the same goes for caring for elderly people, it's not instinctive - as some people here seem to think.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    Well said m0nty1975 at 64, great to read something from a realist who shares similar opinion, you should be a politician, oh no you couldn't and if i stated it was because you talked sense and told the truth i would likely have the moderators wipe me out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    The ones that don't care won't attend, so if this is supposed to, at the tax payers expense, 'fix society' then it won't. Just another sound bite designed to distract.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    I'm sure most parents have thrown away the handbook they got when their children were born after the paraghraph that says that the state takes over. After all we have to have experts in parenting, education, taxation none of which us poor plebs have any mentality for understanding. Having gone through all that all we need now is the British hand book on parenting;heaven forbid.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    95. David Horton

    Those who need it, won't do it. To many of these people, the lure of plasma TV, designer gear and holidays Make it obligatory. refer to Social Services and you don't get child on benefit" There always people like you on these comment pages i bet you read & comment on the DM so tell me you got no TV,wear rags & don't go on holiday & your kids sit & read books 24/7 you Idiot

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    Being a parent - it should come instinctively.

    What has happened in our own evolution that has broken that paternal link?

    Honestly, we are not evolving as a species at all are we?

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    117 fretslider

    There a bit like that bad man in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang,My lovely wife and i care for her disabled grandson and trust me on this.common sense and compassion r something they cannot comprehend let alone deliver.POLITICIANS puppets are what they have become,in my opinion!!!They have no money in there coffers.MONEY MONEY MONEY now that is a different story altogether is it not BBC?

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    84. kcrozier93 Its not a dictatorship this country yet m8 even though thatcher try to make the UK in to one in the 80's

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    I think it would be a good idea to have these Classes taught by MATURE Parents who have brought their own children up with success. Not some young Uni Graduate who has learnt everything they know from some Course or other.

  • rate this

    Comment number 122.

    The classes, provided by parenting experts"And are these experts the same kind as the government are letting ATOS use for their so called Work Capability Assessment if it is I wouldn't go because your be told your not a parent

  • rate this

    Comment number 121.

    Unfortunately the very parents who most need to attend these classes would never do so unless forced....

  • rate this

    Comment number 120.

    Yes. The UK has cultivated a `Chav society` across the social spectrum which needs to be turned around. Walking through the parks, here in Switzerland, you can see normal family life (as 1950s-1970`s Britain). The children have manners, they play, there are no feral gangs.You can walk the streets in peace. A true Labour government could have brought change. A Tory Government will not.


Page 4 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.