Rising numbers of parents are raising children in “chaotic homes” with no discipline, structured meals or proper bedtimes, according to Michael Gove. This is from the Telegraph…
In an outspoken intervention, the Education Secretary warned that many households were being turned into guesthouses with “fleeting” fathers playing a bit-part in children’s lives and young people being left to fend for themselves.
Children often turn up at school without eating breakfast in the morning as a result of poor parenting – not because of financial hardships, he said.
Mr Gove insisted that schools were now increasingly seen as the only major source of stability in many children’s lives.
In many cases, they are required to provide meals as well as teaching children about morals, basic manners, discipline and punctuality.
The comments – made as part of a seminar staged by the Church of England – represent some of Mr Gove’s most significant comments to date on the effect that poor parenting can have on children’s education.
It comes just weeks before the Government publishes its long-awaited new plan to overhaul standards of food in schools.
Many schools already provide breakfast clubs to make sure children get a good start to the day.
Answering a question on the issue, Mr Gove said this was increasingly necessary because “more and more children are leading chaotic lives” and fail to get a proper meal at home.
“More children are growing up in homes where the male authority figure will be fleeting or absent, where there will be what we now call ‘guesting parents’, and also where many parents are struggling with mental health problems or substance abuse,” he said. “And while it’s very far from being a majority of parents, manifestly, it is a growing and troubling minority and often concentrated in particular areas.”
Mr Gove said that children who arrive at school without breakfast often do so because they have “grown up in chaotic homes rather than the fact that the finite amount of financial resources entering that home is insufficient to ensure that the children are fed”.
He insisted that school had a major role to play in “promoting stability” in children’s lives.
“There’s nothing worse if you’re a child than not knowing when bedtime and meal time is, not knowing where mum and dad will be at a particular time,” he said.
“But if you are in a school that’s well run then people insist on discipline and timeliness and they insist that you are polite in the lunch queue and eat with your friends.
“And that discipline is evidence of someone really taking an interest in you; they care enough about you, enough to want you to be part of that community and part of that ordered life.”
Is Michael Gove right to highlight this issue of poor parenting? Can anything be done to tackle it directly or are schools the only way to compensate and provide stability? Please share your opinion in the comments below, on Twitter or by using this form