Press release

Free parenting classes to be offered to over 50,000 mothers and fathers

Children’s Minister Sarah Teather will tomorrow announce that the Government will trial free parenting classes in three areas of the country, aiming to reach over 50,000 parents.

Children’s Minister Sarah Teather will tomorrow announce that the Government will trial free parenting classes in three areas of the country, aiming to reach over 50,000 parents.

The trials will run in Middlesbrough, High Peak in Derbyshire and Camden. They will be available for all parents of children aged five years and under.

Mothers and fathers will be offered vouchers to pay for classes in the three areas. Organisations and services with a proven record of delivering parenting support will be asked to bid to run the classes.

The classes are likely to cover:

  • how to promote positive behaviour with better communication and listening skills;
  • managing conflict;
  • the importance of mothers and fathers working as a team;
  • the appropriate play for age/development;
  • understanding the importance of boundaries and routines to children;
  • firm, fair and consistent approaches to discipline; and
  • strengthening positive relationships in the family.

Around three-quarters of parents say they want information and support to help their parenting.

Sarah Teather, Children’s Minister, said:

The overwhelming evidence, from all the experts, is 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 educational 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. Parents have one of the toughest and most important jobs - but unlike so many other areas of our lives, they don’t get a training manual or a how-to guide.

I want to get rid of the stigma attached to asking for help. Parenting classes aren’t just for struggling families with complex problems. All parents should know it’s ok to ask for extra support and guidance when they need it - just as most do when they attend ante-natal classes before their child is born.

The three areas were chosen so that there was a good mix of locations and demographic spread across the country, with medium to high levels of deprivation. One area, High Peak, was chosen because it is also taking part in a trial to increase the number of health visitors working in children’s centres.

The classes will start in summer 2012 and the trial will run for two years.

Notes to editors

  1. The announcement of parenting class trials in three areas of the country comes at the start of the Family and Parenting Institute’s ‘Parents’ Week’.

  2. Research for the Department for Education in 2006 (Parents Direct: Proof of Concept, GfK NOP Social Research) found that nearly three-quarters of parents want regular access to information and advice on parenting. These findings are echoed in figures from Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents (2009) who found that 75 per cent of parents would like more information on parenting.

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