Children's agency director says 'hour with Dad' scheme is 'a gimmick'

 The Director of The Catholic Childrens Society, Westminster, is not impressed with a new government initiative asking employers to give fathers an hour off work to spend with their sons. Dr Jim Richards, dismissed a pilot scheme launched yesterday as "a gimmick".

Under the scheme, staff at the electrical chain store Comet, will be encouraged to spend their free hour helping sons with homework.

Speaking at the launch of the Dads and Sons Give An Hour scheme, Stephen Twigg, Minister for Young People, (who has no children), said: "Research shows that three out of four fathers wanted to play a bigger part in their son's education. Dads often have a unique bond with their sons and can make a real difference to what they achieve at school. "We need to harness this enthusiasm in order to raise the confidence and achievement levels of secondary school age boys."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Education and Skills said the campaign's emphasis was on boys as they were more likely to underachieve in class. "We want to encourage employers to see how an hour can make a difference," she said.

Dr Richards told ICN: "This sounds like a complete gimmick. Fathers in the UK work the longest hours of any country in the European Community. If the government was serious about helping fathers spend more time with their families they should look at revising employment legislation, rather than offer fathers one hour a week."

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