David Cameron Wants Parents To Attend 'Parenting Classes', But How Helpful Will They Be?

David Cameron To 'Introduce Voucher-Scheme' For Parenting Classes

David Cameron is planning to introduce a system of vouchers to enable parents to take lessons in bringing up their children.

The Prime Minister will make a speech today (11 January) where he will emphasise the need for parents to receive instruction on how to discipline and behave around their children, according to the Guardian.

He will suggest all parents should enrol in state-backed parenting classes to learn how to raise children, as part of a £70 million investment in relationship counselling to prevent families splitting up.

David Cameron will announce the scheme in a speech on Monday (11 January)

The speech will set out the new voucher system, which hopes to incentivise parents to attend the classes.

In his speech, he will say, according to the Telegraph: "Is it right that all of us get so little guidance [as parents]?

"What about later on, when it comes to good play, communication, behaviour and discipline? We all need more help with this – the most important job we'll ever have."

He will add: "A new government 'Life Chances Strategy' will include a plan for 'significantly expanding' parenting classes.

"It will examine the possible introduction of a voucher scheme for parenting classes and recommend the best way to incentivise parents to take them up."

However, some have questioned how helpful these state-backed classes will be.

Siobhan Freegard, founder of Channel Mum, said while in principle the scheme is a good idea, she worries the help won't reach where they are really needed.

She told HuffPost UK Parents: "Every parent needs information, advice and support.

"Bringing up a happy child is the hardest - and most important - job in the world, but unlike every other vital job, there are no manuals or lessons to get it right.

"However, with budget cuts, funds are tight and there’s a worry the lessons won’t always reach where they are most needed.

"Many government parenting initiatives are most heavily used by middle-class families who perhaps need the support less than more vulnerable mums and dads.

"This can be off-putting for parents who are struggling as they fear being judged, and they may not attend."

Freegard said to make these proposed lessons work, there needs to be a change in the culture around parenting and for it to be made acceptable to say 'we need help' or aren’t coping.

She added: "We have to talk more and stop judging.

"If the classes help facilitate this, then it will go a long way to improving parenting and childhoods in the UK today."

Having run parenting classes before, Sarah Beeson, former health visitor and MBE behavioural expert at The Baby Show, agreed that it's crucial mums and dads don't feel judged for attending.

She told HuffPost UK Parents: "You can't have a one-size fits all approach with these classes.

"It is a relationship with families that is needed which calls for home visits, not just in the early weeks, but whenever they need you.

"Parents are usually the best placed people to know what’s right for their family. They need better access to quality health care and professional services when they need them and the health service is struggling under the cuts."

Beeson said she is glad there is discussion on how we can better support families, but a top-down approach is too simplistic.

She added: "Many health visitors have had enough and left the profession or have retired so there is a big shortfall in the service in both numbers and what is being offered to parents."

Caroline Hartwell, a nanny and maternity nurse at Tinies believes the move by Cameron is a "great idea".

She told HuffPost UK Parents: "First time parents would definitely benefit from these classes as it can be a very daunting and stressful time. Even if it's just the basic care that's taught I feel this would be of huge benefit to parents.

"I also think that as the child grows, there should be extended classes to help combat the terrible twos and any behavioural issues that arise in everyday life.

"It’s amazing that anyone can be a parent without any regulation, qualifications or check-ups but if you wish to work with children you have to have a DBS check.

"A watchful eye from government classes is exactly what we need to ensure quality of care from all parents."