Parenting programmes are one aspect of the government’s Respect action plan, which could be helpful for SENCOs. The action plan will include a focus on the most problematic families coupled with a much wider extension of parenting classes to ensure parents get the help they need to fulfil their responsibilities in bringing up their children.

This will be backed up by the creation of a new national parenting academy for professionals working with children and families. This will equip a new generation of workers with advanced skills to address acute parenting and family problems which can be a trigger for antisocial behaviour.

The Respect action plan covers other key areas of action including:

  • supporting families – an additional £70m to fund new measures related to parenting, including up to £18m to establish a fund for parenting programmes that form part of the national programme of intensive family support projects
  • improving access to parenting services through the expansion of children’s centres and extended schools
  • setting up pathfinders to develop the use of parenting support as a means of addressing antisocial behaviour among young people at risk
  • working with local authorities on the planning and commissioning of parenting support services.

The government intends that the action plan will seek to develop a long-term cross- government strategy on ‘problem families’ that will ensure adult and children’s services work together in running intensive projects with the most difficult households. Additional investment for parenting programmes is to be part of a coordinated approach across children’s and adult services in these areas.

Improving behaviour and attendance in schools This coordinated approach is also implied in the schools white paper Higher Standards, Better Schools, which takes forward many of the recommendations put forward by the taskforce led by Sir Alan Steer. As with the Respect action plan many of these initiatives are likely to have implications for the work of SENCOs. The white paper signals government’s intentions to:

  • legislate to tackle poor behaviour, including new measures to ensure parents take responsibility for their child’s behaviour in the classroom and when they are excluded from school
  • roll out nationally by September 2007, secondary schools behaviour and truancy partnerships, with the aim of improving behaviour and tackling persistent truancy
  • take targeted action on persistent truants in approximately 200 schools across the country
  • work with headteachers and local authorities to prevent illegal and unofficial exclusions from school
  • place a new duty on local authorities to identify children missing school and support their re-entry into mainstream education or alternative provision
  • improve provision for those who are out of school through a new regime for suspended and excluded pupils.