A new scheme is to offer parents free access to a social networking site that links them to their children's schools and other parents.

Aimed at busy mums and dads, the scheme is government-backed and run by the Netmums group who hope that "it will become a hub for every secondary school in the UK to create a dialogue between the school and parents".

Described by children's secretary Ed Balls as a "virtual school gate", it's designed to boost parent's involvement, give them info on their kid's education and be a place to discuss issues such as bullying.

Balls said: "We need to find innovative ways of involving parents in schools, particularly secondary schools. I like to think of it as a 'virtual school gate' - where parents can chat to each other online, find out what is happening in the schools and pass on useful information to each other".