CHILDREN need boundaries and it is, first and foremost, the responsibility of parents to provide them.

Those boundaries relate to every aspect of their lives and the way they are set and maintained will, in most cases, dictate what kind of adult those children grow up to become.

Knowing where the line is and the consequences of crossing it will shape their relationship with other children and adults and help instil respect for their fellow human beings.

The job of setting the rules and providing the guidelines is a massive pressure on adults which is too little understood by those who decide to become parents.

By and large children are adorable when they’re very young and there is nothing more life-enriching than the intense joy of caring for a baby. But the first spark of independence can deliver a jolt that sows the seeds of doubt and insecurity and leads many new parents to think, for the first time, “Am I cut out for this?”

There isn’t enough training and preparation for those wanting to become parents but, equally, part of the fun is working it all out when the need arises. The fun can quickly disappear, though, when the concept of “responsibility” kicks in. You, as a parent, are responsible for ensuring that child grows up as a person fit and capable of making their own way in the world and fitting in with society.

And it’s tough. No matter what your background, social status or financial health is, it is hard and incredibly important work. So it’s no surprise some parents can’t cope with it and either abrogate the responsibility entirely or push it on to others.

Often, the “others” are teachers. Those who find it all a bit too hard and a bit too challenging, who can’t work out how to control their children, who have no support, have other huge problems in their life, are struggling on their own, have limited financial resources etc etc may well be tempted to leave the “problem” to schools to sort out: “That’s their job, isn’t it, teachers?”

Well, no, it isn’t. Any teacher will tell you that the foundation for a good life starts in the home. By the time a child arrives at school their life path can already be firmly established.

Yes, teachers can help to improve the lives of many children and real education goes beyond getting pupils through exams – but they will struggle to achieve any real, long-term benefits without the support of parents. If a school manages to instil respect for others, respect for learning and respect for their own ability and life chances in children, it can all go out of the window the minute they get home if the parent, for one moment, allows them to believe none of it matters.

So it’s a parent’s job to ensure children get to school, on time, and they don’t skip lessons and, when they’re there, that they behave appropriately, all of which will underpin their ability to learn and achieve.

When a school has problems and introduces processes and procedures to improve the situation, it must surely be the job of parents not to undermine it by conjuring up spurious reasons to whinge about it.

One such example is Immanuel College, in Thackley, which has had its fair share of difficulties but which is trying hard to make things better, for instance by rewarding children with badges for good attendance and good behaviour, the aim being that all children would aspire to earning them. And why not? Getting children into school and attending all their lessons is the first step to giving them an education.

It’s a sad indictment of modern society that such a primary foundation of our education system is no longer embedded in our culture; some schools have even been known to reward good attendance by giving away free holidays, so desperate have they become to get children into the classroom.

Of course, if all parents understood and took on the responsibility – there’s that word again – for meeting that basic requirement, incentives would not be required. But, in the case of Immanuel College, some parents have already decided that cod-psychology and liberal philosophising is more important.

One parent told the Telegraph & Argus that he didn’t want his child “labelled”, that the new system could breed disdain and bullying due to “categorisation.” Even more bizarrely, another parent claimed the school was just “looking for numbers not pupils’ best interests,” as if 100 per cent attendance wasn’t the absolute minimum requirement for helping children to learn.

It does seem the school hasn’t done a great job of explaining to parents how it all works, how they will ensure legitimate absences don’t count against children, and how they will prevent pupils being picked on for being a “goody two shoes.”

But they can fix that. What they are, more importantly, trying to do is create respect for teachers, learning and other pupils by encouraging good attendance and behaviour rather than going to war by imposing a punishment regime.

To have any hope of improving learning outcomes, every school must create a culture where children want to be there and want to learn. The badge scheme is just a part of it. Immanuel should stick to its guns and all those parents who understand that must make their voices heard in support.