How on earth would head teachers impose fines? How would they check whether parents are reading regularly to their children? How could schools continue with the pretence that some parents really want an education for them, rather than a cheap child-minding service – an easy way of carrying out their statutory obligation to ensure that their children receive an effective “education”? What would schools do with the children of parents who refused to pay fines – keep them behind after school?
If parents do not teach their children yes and no, yours and mine, please and thank you, do not get them to use toilets and other facilities properly and considerately, do not prepare them for school and life outside the home it is far more difficult to teach their children in school and life will become progressively more difficult and disappointing for these children.
Worrying ourselves about parents who do not read to their children, or about violent infant school children, or about children who turn up at five in nappies is to worry far, far too late. We should all be worrying about these children twelve months before they are born, making sure that all people capable of bringing another generation into the world know that if they do, the expectations of them will match those that, fortunately, the majority of parents impose upon themselves.
If we don’t then there may well come a time when we might have to explain to ineffective parents that, in dealing with their children, we have exhausted the public resources that would have provided them with state pensions.