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Parenting classes on trial across England
A two-year trial of parenting classes for the parents of children aged five or under has launched in three areas of England, reports Christian Jarrett in the latest edition of The Psychologist, the Society's monthly magazine.
Parents in Middlesbrough, High Peak and the London Borough of Camden can pay for classes using a £100 voucher provided by the government and distributed via Boots, the high-street chemist. Third-party organisations, including the National Childbirth Trust, Barnardo's and Parent Gym, are running the classes.
The trial has attracted accusations of nanny-statism in some sections of the media, but the government says long-term evidence shows that early support for parents leads to better outcomes for children.
Announcing the 'CANParent' trial last year, the Minister for Children and Families, Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Teather, said the aim was to overcome the stigma attached to parenting classes and that the participating organisations 'will attract and engage parents through a mixture of face-to-face and online classes, and in a variety of community settings including schools and children's centres'.
Information released by the Department for Education says that the classes will adhere
to evidence-based principles, including: helping parents develop secure attachment
and stimulate their child's development; using engaging delivery styles likely to engender behaviour change; and maintaining workforce training and supervision for those delivering the classes to ensure they stick to evidence-based principles.
The CANparent trial is being evaluated by BPS Fellow and past-president Professor Geoff Lindsay (University of Warwick), a Chartered Educational Psychologist, together with colleagues at the research agency TNS-BMRB, Bryson Purdon Social Research and London Economics.
"Bringing up a child is one of, if not the most important tasks we carry out," Professor Lindsay said. "There is now substantial evidence for the effectiveness of evidence-based parenting classes. Our research will provide evidence to inform the development of effective policy, for the benefit of parents and their children across the country."
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