Parents are to be paid to attend classes to help their children with maths, English and science homework.
It follows a scheme in Illinois, in the United States, where parents were allocated either a free all-day pre-school place for their child or a place at a parent academy. The study found that the parent academy was the best way to improve the performance of pupils.
Kevan Collins, the chief executive of the foundation, said: “Parents are a child’s first educators, and their ability to support their children’s learning can have a big impact on whether or not their child succeeds at school and in later life.
“Where parents themselves don’t know enough about basic maths or literacy, they can’t help with homework and support teachers.”
Dr Collins added: “Tens of millions of pounds has been spent by successive governments on lots of different parenting initiatives. But very few of them have been subjected to rigorous evaluation. That means that they may not have been a particularly good use of public funds.”
He continued: “This project includes financial payments so that parents can afford the childcare and time off work needed to take part. If it works, it could save significantly on the future benefit bill by improving the parents’ skills and ensuring that their children don’t become Neets.”
A Neet is a young person not in education, employment or training.
Dr Collins said: “At this stage, we are simply testing whether or not it works. If it does, we will say so. But if it doesn’t, we will also say so.
“That way we can ensure that the best parenting interventions are used in ways that help parents and their children, and provide taxpayers with value for money.”
Graham Stuart, Conservative chairman of the Commons Education Select Committee, told the Times Educational Supplement: “If parents will engage with experts to improve their skills, that’s great. However, the evidence of efficacy will have to be overwhelming before I can accept that the state should have to pay parents to do the right thing.”
Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “I have reservations about simply paying them, but if the money enabled parents to take time off work in order to attend, it could be very helpful.”
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