"How to reduce violence and improve relationships" at the 1996 Annual Conference of

the UK Parenting Education and Support Forum in London.


This workshop arrived at four recommendations, as follows:


1) The 3 Rs should be converted into the 4 Rs: reading, writing,

'rithmetic and relationships;


2) Life Skills, including significant parenting and relationships

components, should be accorded a much higher status in schools;


3) Teaching of Life Skills should be properly funded, drawing on

cross-agency sources, recognising that this is a sound pay-back investment

by society, not a cost;


4) There should be proper training to prepare teachers to deliver

effective, high-quality Life Skills courses.



1) The 3 Rs should be converted into the 4 Rs

There can be few life skills more important to children than teaching them

how to engage in relationships successfully - with particular emphasis on

future relationships as parents, and as partners. The emotional development

of children is as important as their intellectual development, and a shift

to recognising the "4Rs" would be a valuable step in the government, and

educational authorities, recognising the need for this more balanced

approach to the meaning of 'education'.


2) Life Skills should be accorded a much higher status in schools

Teaching of Life Skills, particularly parenting and relationships, better

prepares children for the demands of adult life in the home, in the work

place, and in social contact with others. Parenting education should be a

key subject within the Life Skills curriculum, as it benefits children

directly as (future) parents, and , indirectly, the next generation whose

early life experience, so crucial to the future of our society, will be

determined by the quality of parenting they receive. Personal growth, sense

of self-worth and emotional literacy should all be accorded high priority

within the school curriculum.


Life Skills training should not be a 'cross-curriculum subject, but a full

subject in its own right. It should receive as much priority as Maths,

English or History. There should be a natural sequence to the flow from one

element of teaching of Life Skills to another. A snappier title than the

current "PSE" used in English schools, for Life Skills training, should be



Life Skills, including Parenting Education, should also be provided to

children in care, and other groups beyond the reach of schools.


3) Teaching of Life Skills should be properly funded

Government should provide sufficient funding to support high quality Life

Skills courses. The cost of this should not fall wholly on the Education

budget, but should also receive funding from Health and Home Office

budgets, recognising its contribution to the objectives of these



In particular, the Government should recognise that this is a very

attractive self-funding investment. Research shows that parenting education

is effective, and does work; the 'High-Scope' showed a 7-1 pay-back.

Overwhelming research evidence shows the links between wrong parenting

methods, and the development of crime. Fostering better parenting could

reduce the cost of crime to this country - recently valued by the Sunday

Times (23/3/97) at £31 billion per annum - an estimate consistent with a

recent Canadian study on the costs of violence against women alone (over £2

billion per annum in that country, equivalent to over £5 billion in the



4) There should be proper teacher training for high-quality Life

Skills courses

Colleges, schools and other institutions involved with initial teacher

training should give appropriate priority to parenthood education, and

other Life Skills topics, such that teachers have the range of knowledge

and skills necessary to deliver effective, high-quality courses. This

should include a full understanding of child and adult development.


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