Home > General Politics, Local Democracy, Trade Unions > Mumsnet vs the ATL on blaming parents

Mumsnet vs the ATL on blaming parents

Listening to the radio this morning, I was shocked to note that the Association of Teachers and Lecturers will tomorrow debate a motion at its conference demanding that ‘the benefits system to be adjusted so that the parents of disruptive pupils lose part of their child benefit’.

Stuart Hart, one of the Cheshire-based supporters of the motion, was quoted in the Waily Mail as saying, ‘A child who is behaving badly is not only affecting themselves, but other people’s children. But there are no consequences. We want parents to think they are being hurt, in the form of less child benefit, because their child is not behaving.’

This comes as a new report, compiled on the testimony of ATL members, suggests that up to a quarter of teachers may have experienced some form of violence in work – including groping or parent rampages.

I’m at a loss to understand how anyone can think this will be effective, though I can see why the Mail has clamped on to it, as Dr. Mary Bousted certainly does a wonderful one woman “bloody parents” routine.

‘If you go into a pet shop you have to prove you are going to be able to take care of your dog before they sell you a puppy. But there’s no minimum standard for being a parent, unless you are so awful the state takes the child away from you. It’s not that children are born bad, it’s that when children behave badly at school, they are very often the results of very poor parenting.’

The Mail, evidently frustrated that Dr. Bousted wasn’t prepared to attack benefits scroungers, took a different tack and portrayed the leader of the ATL as demanding state intervention to compel parents to attend classes on how to be parents, and to remove benefits (which, said Dr. Bousted, are available irrespective of class).

Dr. Bousted appeared on Radio 4 this morning, alongside Mumsnet’s Carrie Longton, who argued that cutting benefits would do nothing, and that what was needed was increased support, smaller class sizes and continuing to build on policies that we have proof work: for example, family liaison officers or special support staff who are allotted time to wander the corridors and do spot checks on classrooms (particularly those where troublemakers are known to be).

Proposals like this seem especially ill-timed whenever the leader of the ATL itself is talking about how violence in secondary schools is on the decrease (and without the need to slash benefits). That seems to me a call to stay the course with, and increase the extent and use of, policies that are in place at schools around the country.

They lend credence to the notion that many schools are out of control, and justify stupid Tory ideas like fast-tracking former armed forces personnel into teaching jobs simply because they are physically capable and can make the place feel more like a boot camp than a school.

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  1. jan winster
    March 29, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    I totally agree with the comment by teh radio listener today. The motion by the ATL about stopping benefit for “misbehaving children” is utterly appalling.

    As a fomer social worker, I came across families where one child – or more – might be ‘badly behaved’, another mentally ill, a third with learning difficulties and then often one child struggling to cope with spending most of her non-school time looking after all of the siblings whilst also doing her own homework due to parental ill-health. overwork, incompetence or other problems. It is this one struggling child who would then suffer, even more by having less to eat, or being cold, worse clothed or even homeless.

    You might as well start shooting at random in the streets to punish criminals, or bomb a nation because one person in that nation has done wrong.

    The Association of Teachers and Lecturers should only comment on what they know -and the home lives of children, and their “well behaved” SIBLINGS, are clearly outside their area of expertise. All that will happen is that they will have to steal, get locked up (and oif so do reasonably well materially) whilst the “good” children at home are the most deprived. I know – I have seen it happen. Or they will become homeless, get their electricity cut off or otherwise suffer multiple deprivation. Well done, ATL. You know how to alienate even the innocent children. Please note: you want to starve out CHILDREN. The bad parents you are trying to attack will not be affected as you think: at worst they will send their kids into ‘care’ – and that will cost you, mates. A lot.

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