The Guardian is reporting that what it describes as “an increasingly influential Conservative pressure group” is suggesting parents should be denied child benefit if they do not send their children to pre-school education from the age of three.
The penalty should apply to a parent in the case of a child aged two if the toddler comes from a disadvantaged background, the new counter-poverty strategy suggests.
The proposed loss of child benefit is set out in a pamphlet by Bright Blue, a liberal Conservative pressure group and thinktank, and is designed to ensure disadvantaged children go to Sure Start centres to make them ready for school.
Bright Blue says it is essential to seek new ways to persuade parents to send their children to Sure Start centres.
It argues that just as the government is planning to withdraw child benefit from parents of truanting children, so the same disincentives should apply to parents that do not take up the opportunity of free pre-school education. Ministers have said they are doubling the amount of free pre-school childcare or education to 30 hours a week…
Bright Blue’s director, Ryan Shorthouse, insists the measure should not be seen as punitive or designed to be critical of stay-at-home parents, but should instead be regarded as a pro-education measure…
The pressure group argues that the evidence for the benefit of pre-school care is so strong that formal education should not be compulsory from the age of five but much earlier.
The report says: “We need 100% take-up of the early years free entitlement to ensure children – and also parents – benefit, not only from good-quality care but also the diverse networks they are likely to cultivate by attending these institutions.”
…Ofsted inspections of Sure Start children’s centres, nurseries and primary schools should take into account whether the social composition of their governing bodies or advisory boards reflects that of local communities.
No Sure Start centre should be given outstanding status if it does not have a diverse governing body, it says…
The argument here appears to be that pre-school education is so important to help close the gap that disadvantaged parents need to be compelled to make sure their children participate.
Do you accept the logic of this and would you support the policy being proposed?
Please tell us why/why not in the comments or via Twitter…
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