This is no country for children. Pious politicians pretend “children are our future”. But the UK seems to prefer its past. In rights and priorities, children are standing at the counter waiting to be served, as adults shove them out of the way, with a cascade of reports revealing our collective neglect of children. The Guardian reports.
The National Audit Office on Thursday reports on the crippled finances of local government, funding cut by half, despite skyrocketing demand for social services, especially for children. Vanishing early prevention with overstretched social workers causes an alarming rise in children in care reaching an unprecedented 72,670 last year. Every study shows why: poverty, lack of housing, neglected parental mental health.
Even the assumption that every child goes to school turns out to be wrong, as Ofsted warns today. It has no power to protect growing numbers of “home educated” children, who are sometimes either put into unregistered religious schools or simply abandoned. The government puts parents’ rights to “home school” before children’s rights, without protection from parents who may be psychotic, obsessive, cultish or religious sect-driven.
But some of these disappeared children are simply dumped, says the Office of the Schools Adjudicator, finding schools “off-rolling” inconvenient children, telling their parents to home school under-achievers to keep up their league table results. One council area has “off-rolled” almost 2,000 children – inevitable, when the schools have become torture chambers for results, not places where children’s happiness comes first.
Here’s the big question: have we become a country that really, really doesn’t like children? That unwelcoming grudge is often reflected in punitive political attitudes: people shouldn’t have any children if they can’t afford them, the state shouldn’t have to support them. No wonder the entire social mobility commission resigned, exasperated by pious nonsense about “opportunity” from a government pulling the rug from under children’s chances.
A Gradgrind exam factory school curriculum is what Tory voters want, so there’s political mileage in announcing yet tougher times-tables testing, to add to suffocating testing mania. This government senses a deep well of political support for being nasty to children. Are they right? It would take a great culture shift to put children first – but a country that did that, as the Nordics do, would feel better for everyone.
Read the full article Has the UK become a country that really doesn’t like children?
What do you think? Tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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