Parents of children who regularly truant face having their benefits cut, David Cameron has warned, as he opened the first wave of the Government’s free schools.
In a keynote speech on Friday, the Prime Minister said the government's social policy review, set up in the wake of the recent riots, was considering the proposal.
Addressing the Norwich Free School, Norfolk, he outlined Coalition plans to ensure teaching was based on “excellence”.
Controversial reforms were needed to “bring back the values of a good education” because failure to do so would be “fatal to prosperity”.
Mr Cameron said more discipline and rigour were needed.
In his speech, Mr Cameron signalled a return to “elitism” in schools in an attempt to mend Britain’s “broken society” and secure the economic future.
He said discipline needed to be restored in schools, with teachers and heads being given the tools to do this but “restoring discipline is also about what parents do”.
“We need parents to have a real stake in the discipline of their children, to face real consequences if their children continually misbehave,” he said.
"That's why I have asked our social policy review to look into whether we should cut the benefits of those parents whose children constantly play truant.
"Yes, this would be a tough measure – but we urgently need to restore order and respect in the classroom and I don't want ideas like this to be off the table."
In his speech, Mr Cameron also championed the opening of the first free schools, state-funded institutions run by parents, charities and faith groups, independent of local council control. Some 24 have opened this month.
The Prime Minister attacked the “prizes for all” culture in which competitiveness was frowned upon and winners are shunned.
The comments marked the latest in a series of attempts to focus on education in response to the riots that shocked London and other English cities last month.
They follow the announcement by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, of back-to-basics discipline in state schools.
He plans to give teachers more freedom to search pupils suspected of carrying banned items and to let them use reasonable force in removing the most disruptive children from the classroom.
Mr Cameron sought to move the debate on to standards, saying that a rigorous focus on the basics is needed to give young people “the character to live a good life, to be good citizens”.
The Prime Minister added: “For the future of our economy, and our society, we need a first-class education for every child. Of course, everyone’s agreed on that.
“The trouble is that for years we’ve been bogged down in a great debate about how we get there. Standards or structures? Learning by rote or by play? Elitism or all winning prizes?”
"Every year that passes without proper reform, is another year that tens of thousands of teenagers leave school without the qualifications they really need."
He added: "The most important value we're bringing back to the classroom is a commitment to rigour. Rigorous subjects, tested in a rigorous way.
"However well students perform in their exams, we cannot deny the reality of the past few years. The numbers of people taking core academic subjects - they went down.
"The voices from business concerned about the usefulness of some of our exams - they grew louder.
"We are determined to stop this slide - and already we're making an impact."
Mr Cameron made clear that he was in favour of elitism and not prizes for all
He added: “These debates are over – because it’s clear what works. Discipline works. Rigour works. Freedom for schools works. Having high expectations works.
“Now we’ve got to get on with it – and we don’t have any time to lose.”
Free schools have provoked fury among teaching unions who claim they smack of elitism and represent an attempt to dismantle the state education system.
But Mr Cameron insisted free schools will “have the power to change lives”.
He also sought to link improvements in education to mending “our broken society.”
“We’ve got to be ambitious if we want to compete in the world,” he said.
“When China is going through an educational renaissance, when India is churning out science graduates, any complacency now would be fatal.
“And we’ve got to be ambitious, too, if we want to mend our broken society. Because education doesn’t just give people the tools to make a good living – it gives them the character to live a good life, to be good citizens.”
He added: "A free school is born of a real passion for education – a belief in its power to change lives.
"It's a passion and a belief this coalition shares. We want to want to create an education system based on real excellence, with a complete intolerance of failure."
The comments come days after Nick Clegg said that parents must take more responsibility. The Deputy Prime Minister insisted that teachers should be left to educate, and not be expected to act as “surrogate mothers and fathers”.
Conservative Bingo: Drink everytime you see or hear the words "invest", "capital", "prosperity", "business" "tax" etc etc