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Parents should not ‘abdicate responsibility’

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Parents should not expect schools alone to tackle problems including knife crime, obesity and toilet training, the chief schools inspector has said.

While delivering her annual Ofsted report on Tuesday, Amanda Spielman will say that schools cannot be a “panacea” to all “societal ills”.

She believes that expectations on schools to solve such problems risks distracting teachers from their core purpose – of teaching children.

She will urge health professionals, parents and safeguarding partners to all play a role in protecting, educating and preparing children for adult life.

“Our education and care services don’t exist in isolation from the local areas they serve,” Ms Spielman is expected to say.

“They are and should be a central part of our communities. But being part of a community means being very clear what your responsibilities are, and what issues, however worthy, can only be tackled beyond the school, college or nursery gates.”



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Ms Spielman will argue that a range of partners and agencies should work together to tackle the rising problem of knife crime.

“Most of our schools are safe, and we fully support measures, including zero tolerance policies on the carrying of knives, to keep them that way,” she will say.

“But beyond that, while schools can play a role in educating young people about the danger of knives, they cannot be a panacea for this particular societal ill.”

Ms Spielman will highlight that almost a quarter of children in England are overweight or obese by the start of primary school, rising to over a third by the time they leave Year 6.

According to Ofsted research, there is “no discernible link” between school interventions and obesity rates.

“It is an issue which sits largely beyond the school gates,” Ms Spielman will say.



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“Yes, schools can and should teach children about the importance of healthy eating and exercise in line with their core purpose; their PE lessons should get them out of breath.

“But beyond that, schools cannot take over the role of health professionals – and above all parents.

“The answer to the obesity crisis, particularly among younger children, lies in the home, and parents should not abdicate their responsibility here.”

In a further challenge to parents, Ms Spielman will say there is growing evidence of children arriving at reception unable to use a toilet.

“This is difficult for teachers, disruptive for other children and has a terrible social impact on the children affected. This is wrong,” she will say.

“Toilet training is the role of parents and carers and should not be left to schools.

“Only in the most extreme cases should parents be excused from this most basic of parenting tasks.”

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