Children's rights: worth fighting for

by Richard Newson July 1, 2015

Are we protecting children’s rights in the UK? Keith Clements, Policy Officer at NCB, explains why these are key to ensuring good health for all children.

The current proposals to abolish the Human Rights Act have brought the idea of rights back to the political fore. A rights-based approach helps us and policy makers focus on making sure that all children can expect the same basic protection, support and quality of life - no matter what their needs and regardless of any political barriers we might perceive as preventing this from being achieved

Later this year, the fifth periodic review on the UK’s adherence to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) will take place. A group of charities, led by the Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) have compiled a voluntary sector response to what the Government submitted to this review, to give our side of the story. One of the areas we looked at was children’s health.

Childhood mortality is declining, but UK is still amongst the worst performing in Western Europe, and those that do die young are more likely to come from a poor background. Some approaches to inequality may place the blame on the decisions of parents and discourage any supportive intervention from the state and public services. Such approaches are not compatible with the fact that all children, no matter what their background, have the same right to the highest attainable health, and our response to them must not be coy in reflecting this.

The abuse at Winterbourne View, a residential hospital for people with learning disabilities, uncovered in 2011, was truly shocking. It also raised an important question – why were so many people, including children, stuck in such settings, so far from home, in the first place?

Article 23 of the Convention makes reference to the right of the disabled child to special care, and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has said it expects children to receive care as close to home as possible. This must be part of our arsenal in holding decision makers to account on the provision of support for children with learning disabilities in their own neighbourhood.

Children and young people’s needs are thankfully being considered as part a recent increased political focus on mental health more generally. Since May, Government has taken encouraging steps, starting to implement the proposals of the taskforce on children and you people’s mental health, which published its report in March.

There is a long way to go and this must remain an ongoing priority. In this case and in others, we may hear arguments that decisions are ‘down to local clinicians’, squabbles about which local agencies budget should foot the bill, or the competing pressures put on health services by an ageing population. We must remember that this does not absolve the UK of the commitments it has signed up to under the UNCRC.


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From care to independence – getting it right

by Richard Newson June 26, 2015

Keith Clements, Policy Officer at NCB considers ‘what work’s’ in supporting care leavers.

For all young people, getting on in life is not just about gaining knowledge and having opportunities, but also about the developing the skills, confidence and resilience they need to make successful transition to adulthood.

An increased national focus on mental health and wellbeing, particularly in education policy, which is visible in the election commitments made by the new government is a welcome reflection of this fact.

While the support that schools and colleges offer to develop life skills and confidence will often vary, most young people can at least, rely on a strong family network to fill in the gaps and help them to work through the personal challenges they face.

The typical experience of a young person in care will be very different.

The fallout from their pre-care experience, and often frequent placement moves within care will make the development of strong, supportive relationships a challenge for many.

The ability of schools and other formal services to track and contribute to the development of life skills and confidence will be hindered by these factors. And, of course, the age at which these young people are expected to become independent is much lower than that of their peers, with most leaving care at age 18, and others earlier, and the support the state provides them as care leavers dropping away completely in their early twenties.

This is why programmes such as ‘From Care to Independence’ (FC2I) are so important.

FC2I is a programme of support delivered through The Prince’s Trust Fairbridge Programme and partner agencies, which aims to support care leavers to develop personal and social skills that could help them to stabilise their circumstances and make positive steps forward.

Research has revealed that half (55%) of the care leavers who received a package of group activities and one-to-one sessions successfully moved into employment, education, training or volunteering, emphasising the role that continued support for care leavers can have on their lives.

An overwhelming majority of care leavers found the model of support offered by the project useful, with 98% saying the one-to-one sessions with advisors had helped them achieve their goals.

It is heartening that, in spite of their troubled start in life, few of the young people working with FC2I have let this stop them setting aspirations for their future. It is clear that, of all young people, care leavers are better placed to achieve their goals with the right one-to-one support.

The findings also, however, give us a timely reminder of some of the challenges care leavers face and the need to continue to improve how their day to day needs are met, including accommodation, emotional and practical support and access to mental health services.

There are encouraging opportunities for these issues to be addressed, such as proposals for the reform of child and adolescent mental health services, and the ongoing work to explore how all care leavers are able to benefit from ‘staying put’.

The research into the effectiveness of FC2I, like much of the sectors’ work supporting care leavers, demonstrates the vital role the voluntary sector plays in improving outcomes, through service delivery, innovation, evaluation, finding solutions, and challenging the status quo.

From Care to independence: Interim Findings May 2015 is available from



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Improving male health for the next generation

by Richard Newson June 18, 2015

As Men's Health Week closes, Emily Hamblin asks how we change men's and boys' attitudes to health.

This week is Men’s Health Week, an international initiative which exists because men are at higher risk of premature death from most health conditions that should affect men and women equally.

So how does this gender disparity arise, and what does this mean for children?

Evidence shows that men have poorer health literacy than women, are more likely to engage in behaviours that pose a risk to health and are less likely to acknowledge health issues. Men tend to under-utilise professional health care services.

Some researchers have linked male gender roles that characterise men as independent and in control, to men’s perception that seeking medical help involves a risk of losing control and self-esteem, and an admission that they cannot sort the problem out on their own.

Results from our survey of 138 men aged over 16 seem to support these findings. We asked men about the factors, influences and thinking behind their attitudes to health, and what they believed might help to protect and promote the health of the next generation more effectively.

They told us how readily they would use health services for different reasons.

Men’s reluctance to access health services is concerning, particularly in relation to emotional or psychological issues as suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 50 in the UK, and the number of suicides in 15-29 year olds registered between 2010 and 2013 was five times higher for males than females.

When asked what changes might help enable boys and young men to address their health needs effectively in the future, men called for change in social factors such as discourse amongst boys and men (93 per cent), social expectations of men and women (91 per cent), role models (81 per cent) and family attitudes and communication around health (80 per cent).

Our findings from men informed our subsequent consultation with boys aged 9-11 on their attitudes to health. The boys’ ideas about health were at an interesting point of development: still children, they heeded health messages from adults and other authority figures, yet felt varying degrees of agency about decisions that affect their health, and were conscious of external forces that can shape opinions and behaviours.

Improving health outcomes for boys and young men will need a multi-pronged approach involving policymakers, health professionals, parents, teachers and, crucially, boys themselves. This should involve:

  • Supporting public services to respond to boys’ and men’s health needs
  • Improving knowledge and evidence about boys’ and young men’s current and future health needs and behaviours
  • Nurturing and promoting positive health-seeking attitudes and behaviours in boys and young men
  • Considering what parents, carers and teachers need to guide and support boys with regards to their health and wellbeing.

In addressing these issues, we must avoid problematising masculinity or inadvertently reinforcing stereotypes about strength and competition. Instead we should promote the idea that a boy or man’s care for his own physical and mental health is a normal and important part of achieving his aspirations.

For more information read NCB’s reports: Improving male health for the next generation: Findings from NCB’s survey for men and Findings from NCB’s focus groups with boys.


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Lords begin debates on Govt’s plans for more free childcare

by Richard Newson June 16, 2015

As the Childcare Bill starts its passage through the House of Lords, Zoe Renton, NCB’s Head of Policy, asks whether it will deliver for young children.

Today (16th June), Lords and Baronesses will be getting their teeth into a new government Bill on childcare, starting the long process of Parliament’s scrutiny of the legislation. The Childcare Bill aims to give 15 extra hours of free childcare to three and four year-olds with working parents, extending the amount of free childcare to a total of 30 hours per week over 38 weeks.  It’s a welcome ambition, as we know that a lack of childcare does pose a barrier to parents working and good quality early education can help children develop well. But, at only six clauses long, the Bill provides little detail about how the government will deliver on its surprise manifesto commitment.

Here are some of the questions I hope MPs and Peers will be asking as the Bill progresses through Parliament.

What will count as childcare?

The original free entitlement to 15 hours of early education was aimed at both improving young children’s outcomes and enabling parents to work. It is vital that this additional offer does the same. We know that good quality early education or childcare is particularly beneficial for those growing up in poverty or disadvantage, and poor quality care can have a neutral or even negative impact on the child. So, what standards will childcare settings have to meet in order to deliver the additional free hours?

How will we cover the costs?

Concerns about the current under-funding of childcare places have been widely reported – an estimated total of £177 million according to the Pre-School Learning Alliance. Providers and experts say that this poses a barrier to delivering good quality childcare, in particular for young children with additional needs, such as those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This problem will only get worse if the planned rapid expansion in the number of hours on offer is not underpinned by sufficient funding, so the government’s review of the funding situation is welcome. But how will this review take account of the additional costs associated with delivering childcare to disadvantaged children and children with SEND?

Who’s doing the childcaring?

A well-qualified, confident and experienced workforce is key to good quality early years services that improve young children’s outcomes. Whilst there are signs of a gradual improvement in the quality of the workforce, a significant minority of practitioners are without a Level 3 (A-Level) qualification, only 14 per cent of private, voluntary and independent childcare settings employ a graduate, and there continue to be concerns about staff vacancies. So the third question for the government, is will they develop a strategy for expanding and improving the quality of the early years workforce, as part of plans to deliver on their childcare ambitions?

Hopefully there will be full and robust answers to these and other questions as the Bill progresses through Parliament. Because, if implemented effectively and with the needs of young children in mind, this policy could be positive news for children and families.

Read NCB’s briefing about the Childcare Bill at:


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A question mark over the Queen’s Speech

by Richard Newson May 28, 2015

Does the Queen’s Speech hits the mark for children and young people? Anna Feuchtwang considers.

The Queen’s Speech involves many measures that could improve children’s lives but there are two problems.

Firstly, only careful attention to the finer points in these policies will determine if all children benefit in the way that is planned.

And secondly, an overarching strategy to improve the lives of children is absent, particularly relating to child poverty and disadvantage.

Child poverty – the drifting agenda

It is disappointing that child poverty was not directly addressed in the Queen’s Speech. After all the Government is legally committed to end child poverty by 2020.

Instead of a bold remedy the Government plans to freeze child benefit and tax credit for two years from 2016/17.

With 3.7 million children already living in poverty and after years of real term cuts, further freezes to working age benefits, tax credits and child benefit will only make things worse.

And let’s not forget how many families rely on these benefits: freezes to Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit together will affect 7.7 million children across Britain.

That’s why we’re supporting the End Child Poverty coalition’s campaign asking for the Government to give the same protection to Children’s benefits and Tax Credits as is currently given to the State Pension.

Children’s rights under fire?

And of course there are proposals to introduce a British Bill of Rights – a fitting way to mark the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta perhaps?

It is worrying that human rights in UK law could be diluted, particularly at a time when the UK is about to come under scrutiny by the UN for its record on promoting children’s rights.

We will work to ensure that any measures to reform human rights legislation retain and enhance the human rights protections currently afforded to children under the Human Rights Act.

Free childcare – it’s all about the quality

Boosting the entitlement of working families to 30 hours of free childcare is a welcome move.

Research shows that early education can significantly improve young children’s development, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds, but only if it is of a high standard.

To ensure childcare is of high quality the Government will need to address the challenges facing early years providers in recruiting well-qualified and experienced staff, and tackle the funding shortages that mean a lack of high quality places for disadvantaged two-year olds and children with special educational needs or disabilities.

Without these commitments to improve quality, the investment of tax-payers money in extra free childcare could go to waste.

Mental health provision and custody procedures

Another area where the Government should be praised is on measures to improve access to mental health services. Children and young people must be at the heart of these plans.

We are particularly pleased to see action on the detention of children in mental health crisis in police custody, which can be a very distressing experience for these vulnerable children.

However, any plans to restrict the use of police custody must be implemented carefully to ensure that age-appropriate alternative places of safety are available, near to children’s homes and families.

In addition, we want to see this government taking action to ensure children remanded in police custody are transferred to local authority accommodation as is required by law, and to reduce the criminalisation of children in care.  

A busy year ahead

So now the pomp and ceremony of the Queen’s speech is over, the real work of Government begins and, in turn, our duty to scrutinise its plans closely.

With a majority in Parliament the new Government is brimming with confidence. It is the children’s sector’s job to make sure this confidence doesn’t overflow and lead politicians to overlook the needs of children, especially the underprivileged and vulnerable, whose future depends on policy makers plans.


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A New Government – ready for a new generation?

by Richard Newson May 19, 2015

As the dust settles following the General Election, Young NCB member Jack Welch, considers how young people will be affected.

The 2015 General Election is now something officially for the history books.

Months of coverage and debate led to, perhaps, the most unanticipated result for a generation.

Despite many first-time voters, myself included, being treated to the more boisterous nature of multi-party politics on TV schedules, a traditional majority government was returned to power.

Before any praise or concern at the result can be identified, the young 18-24 generation has brought a sufficient, but perhaps not yet solid, turnout of 58% to justify their mandate.

The impressive work of campaigns like Bite the Ballot and The League of Young Voters have ensured that the youth agenda is back from the brink after the ominous 44% polling rate in 2010. With 66% of the population voting overall though, it still leaves plenty to be desired in the overall public perception of politics.

Now with a new Conservative Government that can firmly deliver on their manifesto pledges, what can young people look forward for the next five years?

I recall some findings last year which referred to the youngest voting generation as ‘Generation Right’ – supportive of the social changes in the last decades, but more sceptical on the welfare state and advocating individualism, with little interest in party politics.

Some aspects of the Conservative programme for young people - expanding National Citizen Service, creating three million apprenticeships and lower taxes for lower wages – may correlate to support for the party.

However, for the many young people still unemployed in the UK, at 743,000 in the last set of official statistics, the outlook may not be looking so good.

Jobseeker’s Allowance for those aged 18-21 could be changed into a ‘Youth Allowance’. After six months, they may face the prospect of unpaid community work to earn their benefits. Housing benefit also faces a cap.

It concerns me that many of the long-term unemployed will be punished unduly in a highly competitive jobs market – to leave the most vulnerable feeling failures in life at an early stage does not bode well.

The impact on youth services too has been widely reported. Cuts to government spending  are set to continue by billions of pounds in the next year, yet local authorities have already had many difficult choices to make.. According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, English councils reduced spending by 27% under  the Coalition Government. By 2014, councils had cut youth services on average by 36% in the preceding two years.

Stripping council services to a minimum has had disproportionate consequences to those in most need of help. The voluntary sector alone may not be able to bear the brunt of adopting services without adequate resources. Whoever shall have powers to decide on this agenda, they must think long and hard on the aftermath of their actions if young people are the losers. A ‘Youth Minister’, initially proposed by the British Youth Council, who would have capacity to represent our behalf, also has no sign of becoming a reality.

What I might describe could be unfairly pessimistic, with the new Parliament just finding its feet. However, there are many issues which young people have passionate views on – mental health and votes at 16 to name a couple. The new Government’s commitments to these issues needs to be demonstrated,  if they hope to reassure many young people they can have a bright future under the Conservatives. 


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Sex and relationships education in the election

by Administrator May 5, 2015
What do the manifestos say about sex and relationships education?, asks Lucy Emmerson, Coordinator, Sex Education Forum.
For 28 years, the Sex Education Forum has been campaigning for better sex and relationships education (SRE), so at General Election time it is usual for us to search through party manifestos in the hope of seeing commitments that take us closer to an entitlement to good quality SRE for every child and young person.
The good news is that this time round progress is tangible. Four out of five of the leading English parties’ manifestos mention SRE specifically. We are proud of the fact that SRE has been an election issue, reflecting the fact that it matters to very many people and that there is not satisfaction with the status quo.
In recent weeks, we have encouraged people to engage with all their MP candidates by asking what their thoughts are on providing SRE in all schools, training teachers in the subject and ensuring good communication between schools and parents about SRE provision. As a result, over 1,000 candidates have received email letters on the subject and voters have appreciated the personal and often rapid replies they have received.
Asking  MP candidates their views is one way of starting up new conversations about SRE – and this is important, because the more people talk about it and understand what good quality SRE is really all about, the more support there is for improving provision.
Although there is no mention of SRE or personal, social, health and economic (PSHE) education in the Conservative party manifesto, we still have the sound ringing in our ears of Graham Stuart, Chair of the all-party Education Select Committee recommending that SRE becomes statutory in all primary and secondary schools in order to keep children safe. This recognition of the preventative and safety value of early SRE is echoed in the UKIP party manifesto, which supports teaching children that no one else is allowed to touch the private parts of their body, in order to help prevent and encourage reporting of abuse.
A commitment to make SRE compulsory is made in the Labour party manifesto and this is extended to broader PSHE in the Liberal Democrat party and Green party manifestos. Charlie Webster’s excellent interviews with party leaders for Cosmopolitan magazine provides an accessible summary of the party positions.
No matter what the outcome of the General Election, the Sex Education Forum and our members will continue to drive conversations about SRE. Evidence is always an important reference point – and we have just published an accessible and up-to-date summary of the research. This includes infographics from the Natsal-3 survey that paint a picture of a generation of pupils who want reliable information about sexual matters but are often failing to get that from school, parents or health professionals. The new government will be obliged to respond to the Education Select Committee recommendations which were based on months of combing through the evidence. So we look ahead with optimism and ask all our supporters to keep talking about SRE.
Conservative Party Manifesto
-   No specific mention of SRE or PSHE
-   ‘Will stop children's exposure to harmful sexualised content online, by requiring age verification for access to all sites containing pornographic material and age-rating for all music videos.’
Labour Party Manifesto
‘Children develop and learn best when they are secure and happy. We need to help our children develop the creativity, self-awareness and emotional skills they need to get on in life. We will introduce compulsory age-appropriate sex and relationships education. We will encourage all schools to embed character education across the curriculum, working with schools to stop the blight of homophobic bullying.’
Liberal Democrat Party Manifesto
‘Introduce a minimum curriculum entitlement - a slimmed down core national curriculum, which will be taught in all state-funded schools. This will include Personal, Social and Health Education: a 'curriculum for life' including financial literacy, first aid and emergency lifesaving skills, citizenship, and age-appropriate sex and relationship education.’
UKIP Manifesto
‘We support age-appropriate sex and relationship education at secondary level, but not for primary school children. There is a world of difference between teaching young children about online safety or telling them no one else is allowed to touch the private parts of their body, which is a sensible way to help prevent and encourage reporting of abuse and going into too much detail. The latter risks sexualising childhood, causing confusion and anxiety, and encouraging experimentation.’
Green Party Manifesto
‘Provide mandatory HIV, sex and relationships education - age appropriate and LGBTIQ inclusive - in all schools from primary level onwards. Make personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) a compulsory part of the school curriculum.’


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It’s the politics, not the policies that turn off young voters

by Richard Newson April 28, 2015

The election may be a turn-off to young people, but they care about the issues – argues Thivya Jeyashanker, an NCB young trustee.

This coming election is very important for me. Why? Because it’s the first time I’m going to be able to vote in a general election.

I have registered to vote (which thankfully I knew to do because of advice from my politics teacher) but many young people have not.

According to a recent survey for Newsbeat, half of young adults have not registered to vote in this year’s general election. The reason is some young people feel that they are not caught up with politics, whilst others don't think their vote counts. So what’s the solution? David Cameron believes that spending £14 million on advertising and promoting voter registration is the solution. Yes, I see the adverts at the bus stands but they don’t seem to have the powerful effect desired.

The simple fact is young people are not engaging in formal politics. According to the 2,734 young people surveyed by IPSOS Mori for the National Children’s Bureau’s Generation Next report, only 28% of young people aged between 18 and 24 were absolutely certain that they would vote in a general election. And only 13% of Generation Next, those aged 11-16. It highlights the decline in voting turnout for young people.

As a trustee for the National Children’s Bureau I recently got the chance to ask MPs and Peers directly ‘Do you think this matters, and what do you do to engage young people in the process of government?These parliamentarians were gathered at the House of Lords launch this March of ‘What next for Generation Next?’ – a follow up to  the original survey conducted last year. I was hopeful that the answers would provide an insight to how to solve the national epidemic of non-voting young people.

The answers were disappointing. It was just the same old jargon: ‘Young people are the future’, ‘more needs to be done’, blah, blah, blah. And it was correctly identified by a member of the audience that the three politicians (from varying parties) could have belonged to one. This isn’t good enough.

I have registered to vote but I don't know who to vote for. I have no affiliation to any political party (similar to the 71% of Generation Next). I don't know what each party stands for and how they are going to improve my future. Like Generation Next, I’m disengaged from mainstream political parties, but not from political issues.

For this generation it is policies over politics. Over 57% of the young people surveyed had done something to help other people or the environment in the past 12 months on a regular or infrequent basis. They have strong views on how the government should be spending their money. Many think that the government should be focusing its spending on the NHS, healthcare and hospitals (20%), education and schools (15%) and tackling poverty (11%).

They also have views on the legal age of responsibility. Around two in five think the legal age at which you can buy cigarettes, get married, join the army and be held responsible for a criminal activity should be raised.

Young people are getting involved, they are volunteering for charities, youth organisations, school councils and speaking out about issues that are important to them. Furthermore, we see young people protesting, tweeting, and blogging about what concerns them. Young people want to have their views reflected in policies. And I would like to believe that politicians want to hear what we have to say. But they just don't seem to be getting it right.

Instead of chucking money at the problem, why aren't politicians investing their time speaking to young people at colleges, universities, or even in the comfort of their homes by logging onto twitter or Facebook to speak directly to young people about the importance of voting.

Telling us to vote Conservative, Labour or Liberal Democrat, makes no sense to most of us who don't keep in tune with party politics. However telling us that you are going to invest in youth services, or keep our streets safe or how you are going to increase job prospects are more likely to get our attention.

Young people are disengaged with formal politics but they are engaged in politics. This matters. And politicians need to listen.

For more information on Generation Next visit:   

Thivya Jeyashanker (aged 19) – is on a gap year and volunteers as a board member and trustee of the National Children’s Bureau.


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Manifestos under the microscope

by Richard Newson April 24, 2015

Will election promises bring real change to children lives, asks Anna Feuchtwang, chief executive of NCB?

With all parties battling for our attention it feels like some sectors of the population are being wooed more than others. Children don’t get to vote so a cynic might say they don’t need to be wooed. We’ve waded through the manifestos of the three current main political parties, and had a look at those of some of the other contenders, to see if this is the case.

It is promising to see that the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats have all made commitments in areas of children’s policy where the National Children’s Bureau (NCB) has been calling for change – but the challenge will be ensuring that whoever forms the next government translates promises into action.

Child poverty and giving young people a say

NCB believes that the voices of children and young people should inform the development of government policy, the best way to achieve this is through a cross-government strategy for children and young people, with a priority focus on reducing child poverty and inequality.

We have been calling for the Office for Budget Responsibility to monitor and report on progress against child poverty targets. Now Labour has included this commitment in their manifesto, with the Conservatives making a more general pledge to target the root causes of child poverty.

The Lib Dems would enshrine the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child in British law in order to place children’s rights at the heart of law-making. Both Labour and the Lib Dems intend to give young people aged 16 and 17 the right to vote during the next Parliament; an issue recently debated at NCB’s ‘Generation Next: Tomorrow’s Voters’ event at the House of Lords.

Early years

NCB believes that children should have the best start in life through access to high quality pre-school education and early years services that help them to develop and flourish.

The Liberal Democrats, Labour, and the Conservatives have all committed to increasing the number of hours of free nursery education for young children. In addition, Labour and the Lib Dems say they would protect the early years’ budget so that it rises with inflation, and the Liberal Democrats have promised that by 2020 every early years setting will employ at least one person who holds an Early Years Teacher qualification and an increase in the Early Years Pupil Premium. The Green Party wants to take things further, calling for an expansion of early education with compulsory school age rising to 7.

However, it remains to be seen how parties plan to ensure sufficient funding for a large scale expansion of high quality early education. It is essential to improve the quality and sustainability of nursery places, and increase the capacity and skills of the early years’ workforce.  


Education alongside health is arguably the policy area that has seen the most change in recent years. In their manifestos, all three parties have acknowledged the importance of investing in children’s education and have committed to protecting the schools’ budget in real terms.

A number of policies align with NCB’s areas of work and the priorities of Young NCB (our advisory group made up of young people). These include, compulsory sex and relationships education (Labour) and Personal Social and Health Education through a ‘curriculum for life’ (Lib Dems); tackling all forms of bullying (all three parties);  training teachers to support early intervention (Labour); and improved careers advice in schools (Conservatives and Lib Dems).


The National Health Service is shaping up to be a key election issue, with numerous competing promises for more investment over the next parliament. All three main parties have plans for improving access to GP services, something our work on primary care has shown is crucial for children and young people.

NCB and many colleagues in the sector have long been calling for more focus on the mental health and emotional wellbeing of children so it is welcome that this features in several of the manifestos. Labour promise to increase the proportion of mental health spend dedicated to children, the Lib Dems committing to implement the report of the children’s mental health taskforce, and the Conservatives pledging to increase mental health spending overall.

Looked after children

There are around  70,000 looked after children in England at any one time, whose particular needs demand political attention, but this often cannot compete for the attention of politicians chasing votes up and down the country.

It is therefore notable that this group of young people are directly addressed in both the Lib Dem and UKIP Manifestos. The Lib Dems plan to increased focus on emotional wellbeing and resilience in the care system while UKIP have pledged to extend ‘staying put’ measures (that allow children to remain in foster care placements until age 21) to those in residential care – both issues we have been supporting government to engage with the children’s sector on over the last year.

Furthermore, both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems have plans to make it easier for vulnerable children to be placed in a new loving home, through proposals to improve adoption, and all major parties want to support better identification of those who need help and support through enhancing safeguarding.

The election and beyond

Whatever the outcome of the General Election, NCB will be holding government to account for promises made about improving children’s lives and urging them to listen and respond to children and young people.

An analysis of what party manifestos contain relating to children is available at: www.


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Every good thing the internet has to offer!

by Richard Newson February 6, 2015

As Safer Internet Day approaches, Young NCB's Grace Garbutt call for both online safety and the freedom to enjoy the internet's benefits.

This year's Safer Internet Day will take place on Tuesday 10th February. The theme is: “Let’s create a better Internet together.”

It's an international event that aims to raise the awareness of the ways in which we, as children and young people, can protect ourselves from dangers online, while, at the same time, continuing to enjoy every good thing the Internet has to offer.

Safer Internet Day is not about making us do our maths homework by using shock tactics to stop us procrastinating on Facebook; it's about becoming more “street-wise” and using our time online productively.

As a rule, we should all be applying the same levels of respect towards each other in the virtual world as I hope we are doing in society, while bearing in mind the dangers of trusting strangers with our personal details. 

It is important that children are taught to realise new friends online may not be who they claim to be.

Safer Internet Day is also about the importance of getting parents and teachers involved in conversations about content that is unsuitable, that may be damaging to young minds.  

It is vital that parents know how to report their concerns to the police if their child has been inappropriately approached. Safer Internet Day provides this information.

Thankfully, stories in the media about succumbing to dangers online are relatively rare, but raising the awareness about staying safe is still needed.

It is evident that 40% of Internet users between the ages of 18-35 have regretted posting personal information and images of themselves in areas such as Snapchat. As well as being dangerous, it has proven to be embarrassing and has led to bullying.

Creating a better Internet together is about ensuring it can be used safely by all generations. It is about continuing to reap the rewards of innovation, bridging barriers to isolation, life-long learning, finding jobs and forming new and safe friendships.

The Internet has a huge potential to bring people together for the common good. Let's learn to stay safe together!

You can find out more and download information sheets by following this link: 

Grace Gurbutt - Young NCB member



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