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Parenting is often in the news these days because it is recognised as being key to the prevention of crime and educational failure. Parenting skills therefore feature prominently in initiatives to support the government’s Respect Agenda and improve educational outcomes. Both the new children’s centres and extended schools are charged with providing parenting support to all families, particularly those living in deprived areas and those who are seen to be in difficulty. Pilot initiatives from the Department for Education and Skills (now the Department for Children, Families and Schools) such as Early Intervention Pathfinders and Parent Support Advisors in England, and Flying Start in Wales have provided funding for some local authorities to offer parenting programmes, and parenting support more generally, to parents in need in their localities. The English government has also commissioned a National Academy for Parenting Practitioners and this is currently being set up. Developed out of a collaboration between two of the major national charities with an interest in parenting (Parenting UK and the National Family and Parenting Institute) together with King’s College London, the Academy is charged with increasing the amount and quality of provision of parenting support throughout England, by offering good quality training to those who run parenting programmes and support parenting, and by undertaking research to extend the evidence base relating to parenting interventions.
The programmes which have been approved for funding under the above initiatives are restricted to the group-based behaviour management programmes for which randomised control trial (RCT) level evidence demonstrates impact on children’s behaviour and conduct disorder.1 They include the Incredible Years programme developed in the USA by Carolyn Webster Stratton and Triple P developed in Australia by Matt Sanders.
These programmes were developed in the context of social learning theory and aim to help parents set boundaries …