Cameron to open govt-run parenting classes to all

LONDON • All British parents will be encouraged to take government-run parenting classes under plans due to be announced by Prime Minister David Cameron, The Observer newspaper reported.

A previous scheme to educate parents from underprivileged backgrounds after the 2011 London riots flopped, attracting around 15 per cent of the expected intake.

But the government believes that opening the scheme to all parents will rid it of its stigma, helping it become as ingrained as antenatal classes, the newspaper reported.

"In the end, getting parenting and the early years right isn't just about the hardest-to-reach families; it's about everyone," Mr Cameron was expected to say yesterday, according to The Observer.

"Of course they (children) don't come with a manual... we all have to work at it. And if you don't have a strong support network - if you don't know other mums or dads - having your first child can be enormously isolating."

Parents receive support immediately after the birth of the child, but the Prime Minister said that needed to be extended.

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

"So I believe we now need to think about how to make it normal - even aspirational - to attend parenting classes."

The 2011 CanParent pilot attracted just 2,956 parents, despite the government budgeting for 20,000.

The £5 million scheme ended up costing over £1,000 per parent, although a study of attendees found high degrees of satisfaction.

Poorer parents could receive vouchers to attend the courses, while funding for relationship counselling classes is set to double, according to extracts of Mr Cameron's speech published in newspapers on Sunday.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2016, with the headline 'Cameron to open govt-run parenting classes to all'. Print Edition | Subscribe