Developing

Free Boots Vouchers For Parenting Classes

Parents will be given £100 vouchers for lessons in how to handle their children in a Government bid to tackle a lack of family discipline.

The free vouchers, entitling parents up to 10 two-hour sessions on how to bring up their offspring, will be distributed through the high street chemist Boots.

The scheme - known as Can Parent - is said to be the brainchild of Steve Hilton, David Cameron's strategy adviser who is leaving Downing Street for a sabbatical this summer.

It is thought to be designed to bolster the Prime Minister's reputation as a traditional family man as well as try to combat the problems that led to last summer's riots.

Mothers and fathers of children under the age of five will be eligible for the scheme, as will grandparents and other carers.

A pamphlet accompanying the voucher says: "We know that happy, confident mums and dads have happy confident children.

"Being a parent can be brilliant and challenging all at the same time. Children change so fast and every family is different. Sometimes you might find yourself unsure of how to handle and issue and want more advice to help you feel more confident."

The Department for Education , which will oversee the project, has confirmed that an announcement about the scheme will come in the next few days.

"We want all families to be able to easily access excellent information on parenting. We will be making an announcement about this next week," a spokesman said.

The project will initially be piloted in three areas, Middlesbrough, Camden in north London and High Peak in Derbyshire. It could be extended across England and Wales if it is a success.

Parents will be able to use the vouchers to buy lessons from independent organisations such as the National Childcare Trust.

Currently the courts can impose such classes on the parents of unruly children, but ministers hope that the involvement of Boots will persuade families to see them as normal as ante-natal classes.

A No 10 official told The Mail on Sunday: "We are using Boots to hand out the vouchers because it is all part of the process of making it a normal, respectable experience.

"If we asked people to queue up at their local social security offices to get them, no one would be interested. Going to a parenting class should be as normal and pleasant as going a cookery or a line-dancing class."