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					Every Parent Matters (CSN)
3/4/2007 Author: Pam Baldwin Reference No: PB 1418/07C This covers: England

Every Parent Matters sets out the important role of parents in improving their child’s life chances and educational attainment and the role of government in supporting them to achieve this. It brings together ways in which the Government is promoting the development of services for parents, as well as their involvement in shaping services for themselves and their children. It also highlights practice where public services are already working with parents in innovative ways, particularly with those parents that are most disadvantaged and for whom services have often been inaccessible. It will be of particular interest to those in children’s services who are involved in developing parenting strategies and in providing parenting support services, including in schools and children’s centres.

Briefing in full
Every Parent Matters sets out the important role of parents in improving their children’s life chances and educational attainment and the role of government in supporting them to achieve this. It brings together ways in which the Government is promoting the development of services for parents as well as their involvement in shaping services for themselves and their children. It also highlights practice where public services are already working with parents in innovative ways, particularly with those parents that are most disadvantaged and for whom services have often been inaccessible.

Being a Parent Today – the changing role of mothers and fathers

The report outlines some of the main features of the changing context in which the Government is working to promote parenting:
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major changes in parental employment patterns and in the way in which caring responsibilities are shared parents are having children later more parents are juggling caring for their elderly parents as well as their children parents of teenagers are increasingly saying that they want more help in supporting their children there is more variety in family structure and relationships increased ethnic diversity in society is reflected in more diverse patterns of family formation increasing numbers of adults live with their parents children and young people today have more opportunities than previous generations.

The report points out that in the face of this greater wealth of opportunities, children from lower socio-economic backgrounds are still more likely to experience a range of obstacles to success. Social mobility has declined since the 1950s. Recent analysis suggests that to increase social mobility, the relationship between family background and educational attainment needs to be addressed, and resources better directed at improving outcomes for those from deprived backgrounds.

Government’s role in enabling parents to support their children’s learning
The document sets out some ways in which parental influence is important throughout childhood and adolescence, for example in the early years and in a child‟s schooling between the ages of seven and sixteen. It highlights the important role that fathers play – their interest in a child‟s schooling is strongly linked to educational outcomes. The Government sees its role in promoting parenting as being an enabling one, ensuring that all parents are able to:
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make confident and informed choices which they feel are right for their family shape services to respond to their family‟s needs work in partnership with services to reinforce the benefits for their childrens‟outcomes access additional support when they need it.

The vision is of “responsive public services driven increasingly by ever greater numbers of parents with high aspirations and expectations for their children”. The document identifies a small minority of parents who may need additional support to enable them to confidently raise their children. It also outlines the Government‟s view that compulsion for the few, through measures such as parenting orders, may be required to ensure that they are fulfilling their parental responsibilities.

The Early Years

The document highlights the importance of the early years, from pregnancy to the first years of a child‟s life in influencing a child‟s well-being, including their cognitive development and emotional security. Parents and their babies International and UK evidence shows that high quality social and psychological support, as part of universal child and family health services, can have results and long-term cost effectiveness, particularly for families with high levels of deprivation. The Government reiterates its plan to start pilot health-led parenting projects, linked to Sure Start Children’s Centres, in ten areas in England. These projects are to be based on the US Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) model of intensive support for first-time mothers from pregnancy to the child’s second birthday. Parents as educators The document also points to the evidence from the Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE) study, which shows the importance of parents engaging in a range of activities with their children, including reading. In 2008 the Government plans to follow up the National Year of Reading, held in 1998, by launching a National Year of Reading – Ten Years On. It also plans to pilot, from Autumn 2007, a new family learning course for parents and carers of pre-school children with literacy and numeracy needs to help them to support their children with the Early Years Foundation Stage. The importance of fathers The strategy highlights the crucial role that father‟s early involvement in their child‟s life plays in supporting educational achievement and promotes an approach which routinely offers fathers the support and opportunities they need to play their parental role effectively. It points to the Sure Start Children‟s Centre guidance, issued in November 2006, which is clear about the need to develop effective systems to gather information about fathers in all the families with whom they are in contact. (See „Related briefings‟). Engagement with early education and childcare opportunities In the document the Government sets out measures it is taking to boost good early education:


from 2010 the early education and childcare offer will be extended to fifteen hours a week, 30 weeks of the year and it can be delivered more flexibly over three or more days outreach workers from children‟s‟ centres – whilst respecting parents‟ wishes – will work to encourage families, such as those on lower incomes, migrant or


traveller families and minority ethnic groups, to take up the free early education offer for three and four year-olds the new duty in the Childcare Act 2006, will require local authorities to take reasonable steps to secure sufficient childcare for working parents paying particular attention to the needs of parents of disabled children.

It also describes initiatives to support parental involvement in children‟s early learning. The Early Learning Partnerships (ELP) project, which is testing twelve different approaches to how early education and childcare practitioners can involve parents in their child‟s learning, is being evaluated and the findings will be disseminated to all early years settings. By March 2007 the training and resources developed by the Parents, Early Years and Learning project (PEAL) will be available to staff from 700 Children's Centres. PEAL training will then be extended to private day nurseries, pre-schools and childminders as part of the ELP. The document emphasises the importance of reaching those parents who need services most and who often find them inaccessible. It highlights the role of outreach targeted on excluded groups as a mechanism for improving the engagement of parents. The Sure Start Children‟s Centres guidance, sets out a clear expectation for Sure Start Children‟s Centres to monitor how successful their outreach services are in engaging families from excluded groups. The guidance also suggests that local authorities should agree with all their centre managers a range of common measures for each excluded group, so that progress in engaging them can be tracked across the whole local authority area. The training and resources from the Early Support Programme, which works with parents, voluntary organisations and local authorities to join up services for disabled children and their families, will be rolled out nationally from 2007. Starting school The document outlines the need to support parents when their children are starting school. From late 2007 a national rollout of training for facilitators to deliver Transition Information Sessions for parents whose children are starting school will be offered to all local authorities.

Parents of School Age Children
Choosing a school In the document the Government brings together initiatives around admissions including the network of Choice Advisers introduced specifically to help parents from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds to make informed choices of secondary school for their children. Since September 2006 over 56 local authorities have been delivering Choice Advice services. Engaging parents in partnership The document draws attention to a toolkit, Involving Parents, Raising Achievement, which was launched by the Government in 2003, explaining practical steps needed to develop home-school links.

As part of measures to strengthen home-school relationships the Government plans to strengthen Home-School Agreements to make sure that schools are using them effectively. A survey by Ofsted found that consistent use of these, as part of the school‟s approach, improves behaviour and gains greater commitment from pupils. However the survey found that only a third of schools recognise the value of these agreements. The Schools White Paper made clear that the Government would ensure that parents receive regular, meaningful reports during the school year about how their child is doing. The Government wants schools to engage with parents and make access to information easier and quicker and plans to work with British Educational Communications Technology Agency (Becta) on developing this during 2007. The document refers to the Computers for Pupils initiative, which aims to get ICT into the homes of some of the most disadvantaged secondary school pupils. Parents will also have access to computers in the 100,000 homes that will be equipped over the two years of the programme. The document sets out the ways in which personalised learning, which is a major theme of educational thinking at present, encourages the engagement of parents, for example by promoting improved two way communication with parents based around easier to understand information about their child‟s progress. Engagement between schools and parents is being built into more learning programmes, for example the primary social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) programme, which two thirds of primary schools are expected to be using by July 2007. The secondary SEAL programme will be rolled out, starting in September 2007. Direct involvement in schools The Education and Inspections Act 2006 places a new duty on local authorities to respond to parental representations. Since 2005 the school self-evaluation form, required as part of a school inspection, has asked schools to capture how they gather the views of parents. The Government plans to develop a resource pack for schools to help support the direct involvement of parents in schools and from May 2007 the Act introduces a duty on all governing bodies to listen to all parents. Extended schools The Government intends that all schools will offer extended services, which will include parenting support, by 2010. Consultation with parents and the community is integral to providing extra services within an extended school and the document stresses that governing bodies must consult with pupils, families and the community before setting up extended services. Improved information As well as focusing on parents whose children are starting primary school, Transition Information Sessions are being offered to parents whose children are moving to secondary school in 20 local authority areas. Advice and support

From January 2007 the Government is piloting Parent Support Advisers in over 600 schools across 20 local authorities and this will expand to 900 schools throughout the year. Parent Support Advisers are testing different approaches building on the best of what schools are already doing to enhance home-school relationships. The Government plans to ensure that good practice from the pilot is mainstreamed through extended schools from 2008. The Government is also developing packs for parents and carers with literacy and numeracy needs encouraging them to participate in activities with their children. These will be issued in Autumn 2007. Since Autumn 2006 the Government has been running Parenting Early Intervention Pathfinders in eighteen local authorities, testing different parenting programmes for the families of 8-13 year olds at risk of anti-social behaviour. The evaluation of these different programmes will highlight effective practice to inform the development of the parenting support offer through extended schools and guidance to local authorities on developing and delivering their parenting strategies. Parents’ responsibilities This section addresses parents‟ responsibilities in relation to their children‟s attendance at school and behaviour. From September 2007 schools and local authorities will be able to offer behaviour-related contracts well before poor behaviour in school deteriorates to the point of exclusion. In these contracts parents agree to undertake specific actions to improve their child‟s behaviour or attendance and the school or authority agree to provide support. Where parents will not act to improve their child‟s behaviour or attendance, they can be made subject to a courtimposed parenting order – from September 2007 schools as well as local authorities will be able to apply for such orders. From September 2007 the Education and Inspections Act 2006 will place a new duty on parents of excluded pupils. They will be required to ensure that their child is not in a public place during schools hours in the first five days of any exclusion. From the sixth day the local authorities will arrange full-time education. From September 2007 schools will have a duty to invite parents to a re-integration interview.

The Transition into Adulthood
The document points to evidence that parents and family remain important to the well-being of young people, despite teenagers spending less time with their parents and peer influence becoming more important. The Government‟s recent guidance Supporting Parents, issued to local authorities in October 2006, makes clear that local parental support strategies should include support for parents of teenagers. (See „Related briefings‟). The Government highlights resources like Time to Talk, led by Parentline Plus and the Speakeasy community-based education project for parents, led by the Family Planning Association. These aim to support parents in discussing relationships and sex with their children. The document points to the particular importance of supporting young parents and, as signalled in Teenage Pregnancy Strategy: Accelerating the Strategy to 2010, the Government will be publishing revised guidance to local authorities and Primary Care Trusts later this year. (See „Related briefings‟) This will set out the support they

expect to be in place for all young parents. The aspects that this support will focus on include:
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developing strong and confident parenting skills addressing any emotional or mental health problems preventing further unplanned pregnancies mediating positive relationships with the family and, where possible, with the father of the child continuing or re-engaging with education and training.

From March 2007 the Government is training over 100 practitioners to deliver parenting programmes and one-to-one support in Family Intervention Projects. These practitioners will work with the 'parenting experts' that have been appointed since November 2006 to work in 77 areas across England. These 'parenting experts' can be called by front-line staff who are tackling anti-social behaviour to provide help to families, either in the form of parenting classes or a one-to-one basis. In the document the Government recognises that the perceived association between parenting support for teenagers and anti-social behaviour may deter some parents from seeking early advice. They are currently considering what further responses it can make to this issue as well as to the needs for further support for parents of teenagers.

Investment in Strategic Capacity
As part of delivering Every Child Matters local authorities have a strategic role in the development of support to parents in their area. The Supporting Parents guidance asks each local authority to develop a strategic joined-up approach to the design and delivery of parenting support services in its area. It suggests that parenting support to deliver improved outcomes for children should be seen as a continuum from information, early intervention and preventative services through to the use of enforcement measures. Parenting strategies should be in place by March 2008. Information and Advice about services In improving the level of information available to parents, local authorities will be required to provide a full range of information about local and national services to parents of children and young people from birth to age nineteen, through its Children‟s Information Service. The Government plans to rationalise information for parents to make it easier to access, more user friendly and better organised. As part of this it proposes to pilot, during 2008, a universal Parents Know–How service, integrating access to quality web materials with targeted information via helplines and printed materials for parents at higher risk or unable to access other channels. Workforce Development

The Government sets out its commitment to improving the capacity of the workforce in children‟s, young people‟s and family service to work effectively with parents. The document refers to the new National Occupational Standards for children‟s services, which include standards for work with parents and which were approved by QCA in April 2005. The National Academy for Parenting, which will come into operation from Autumn 2007, will have a key role in improving practice including training, development and support for the parenting workforce.

Developing Parental Engagement
The document lays out the ways in which public services need to improve how they work with parents. These include:
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engaging both fathers and mothers enabling parents to access information so that they can exercise effective choice giving parents the means to influence the shape of services so that they meet their families needs ensuring opportunities for fathers and mothers to work in partnership with schools, taking account of the constraints on working parents.

The document identifies development work for local authorities in threading effective parental engagement through local service planning, commissioning and delivery and in providing extra specialist support to parents, often in partnership with the voluntary sector. The Government intends to develop a definition of a minimum package of information and advice and support that any parent should be able to access locally through their Sure Start Children‟s Centre and extended school, and from national sources of information and advice. The Children and Young People‟s Review, currently being conducted by the DfES and HM Treasury, which is due to report in the Spring, has an emphasis on early intervention and prevention. There is a need to learn from this about where it is most effective to focus support and whether support should be universal or targeted. The review will set out recommendations to inform the Comprehensive Spending Review. The Government also intends to work with local authority commissioners of parenting support to disseminate good practice and will be working with the IDeA and LGA and a group of local authorities to develop and share best practice. The document sets out a table with key milestones for 2007 and 2008-2010 covering the implications of policy for mothers, fathers and families and local authorities.

This document is useful in that it pulls together in one place the various government intitiatives in the area of parenting policy. It is helpful to have a summary of developments at national level to inform the development of parenting strategies and support services by local authorities and their partners. In doing so local areas will face a number of challenges. These include developing a non-stigmastising approach, particularly in reaching those most disdvantaged families

which the Government wants to prioritise, in a climate where government policy of compulsion for the few may act as a disincentive to take up services for those who need them most. The challenge of shifting resources into preventative measures, which is an important strand of government policy running through the current Treasury and DfES Children and Young People's Review and on which recommendations are awaited, presents real challenges. How can resources be shifted into a more preventative approach, while the demand for acute services continues? Schools are central to strategies for supporting parents and are supported by new provsions in the Education and Inspections Act 2006 - the duties to promote the wellbeing of pupils, have regard to the Children and Young People's Plan and parents' views. The evidence is clear that the quality of parenting does have a significant impact on outcomes for children. Many areas are already making progress in developing a coherent approach to parenting support, involving schools and a range of partners. The Government's emphasis on the most disadvantaged groups and fathers is welcome, and local authorities will be exploring with their partners how best to develop effective practice.

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