British PM threatens welfare cuts for truant kids' parents
The parents of children who regularly skip school could have their state welfare entitlements cut, British Prime Minister David Cameron said Friday as he launched an assault on educational failure.
He said the government was determined to bring "rigour", order and respect back into the classroom, saying "we cannot deny the reality of the past few years", where standards and discipline had eroded away.
"We've got to be ambitious if we want to compete in the world," Cameron said at the new Norwich Free School in eastern England.
"When China is going through an educational renaissance, when India is churning out science graduates any complacency now would be fatal for our prosperity.
"Every year that passes without proper reform, is another year that tens of thousands of teenagers leave school without the qualifications they really need."
Cameron said urgent classroom reforms were needed to produce a new generation of "good citizens", in the wake of last month's riots.
The government set up a social policy review following the riots and Cameron said it had been asked to consider stripping parents of their state handouts if their children are regularly missing school.
"Restoring discipline is also about what parents do," he said in his speech.
"We need parents to have a real stake in the discipline of their children, to face real consequences if their children continually misbehave.
"That's why I have asked our social policy review to look into whether we should cut the benefits of those parents whose children constantly play truant.
"Yes, this would be a tough measure -- but we urgently need to restore order and respect in the classroom and I don't want ideas like this to be off the table."
He said that despite figures showing ever-improving student pass rates, Britain's business community was less impressed with the aptitude of youngsters entering the world of work.
"We are determined to stop this slide," the premier said.
Cameron's political philosophy is centred around devolving power and responsibility down to ground level.
The creation of "free schools" -- run by bodies such as parents' associations, teacher groups or charities but financed by the state -- across England is a major part of the coalition government's education policy.
© 2011 AFP