Parents could pay price for truants

Truants could cost parents their benefits

Truants could cost parents their benefits

By Alex Stevenson

Truanting children could cost parents their benefits, David Cameron has suggested.

The prime minister said the government's social policy review, initiated in the wake of last month's riots, would look at whether the parents of persistent truants should pay the price.

"Yes, this would be a tough measure – but we urgently need to restore order and respect in the classroom and I don’t want ideas like this to be off the table," he said during a speech in Norwich.

Mr Cameron insisted the coalition was confronting educational failure "head-on" in his speech.

His remarks follow a speech earlier this week from education secretary Michael Gove which stated that an "educational underclass" was partly responsible for last month's riots.

"We want to want to create an education system based on real excellence, with a complete intolerance of failure," Mr Cameron added.

"It's clear what works. Discipline works. Rigour works. Freedom for schools works. Having high expectations works.

"Now we've got to get on with it – and we don't have any time to lose."

The coalition's drive towards more free schools is making significant progress. Twenty-four free schools will open across England this month, being handed greater freedom than local authority-run schools.

The prime minister argued that Britain alsoneeds to improve its educational performance to compete with countries like China and India.

"Any complacency now would be fatal to our prosperity," he continued.

"A free school is born of a real passion for education – a belief in its power to change lives.

"It's a passion and a belief this coalition shares."