News Views

Children, Their World, Their Education

A three-year study of primary education has made a lot of recommendations, which have been widely reported. Among other things they want to scrap SATS and allow teachers to test children in a way which permits them to inform parents about their children’s progress, rather than give indications about the success of the school. They want to roll back the power of the state and decentralise control.

We are all for decentralisation – or the EU version, subsidiarity – as we believe that decisions should be taken as close to the people whom they affect as is reasonably possible. The Labour Government has been one of the most centralising in history, and we believe that this approach is ineffective, as it undermines local initiatives, adaptation of services to local needs and the local acceptance of responsibility if central government tries to run everything.

But if the tide turns and we decentralise, we don’t want then to hear people bleating about postcode lotteries. Things will be different in different areas, and people will just have to lump it. Watch this space.

Children Should be Seen and Not Hurt.

Nick Mills of Vispack has warned of the need to ensure children are visible at night on the roads, as road-side deaths in the UK among children under the age of 16 have increased by a startling 20 per cent since 2005, and child pedestrian deaths in particular have risen by 13 per cent. He points out that most parents are primed up for firework safety and the dangers of fooling with gunpowder, yet one of the biggest killers (being invisible at the roadside) tends to get overlooked. Firework displays in particular are usually held in remote locations such as fields or parks in the middle of the countryside, which means less light and busy traffic.

His tips for staying visible and out of danger:

–           Stay off the road and where possible stick to pedestrianised, well-lit areas.

–           Ensure either you all wear a high-visibility vest to alert busy traffic.

–           Use high-visibility wrist bands.

–           Take a torch with you and use it.

Taking Care

In Dundee last month a baby was removed from a family because of concern that the child would become obese. It was expected that the other six children in the family would also be removed. Obviously such cases are often complex and from the limited information we have we cannot say what should have happened in this case.

However, as a matter of general principle, where the issue of concern is the family’s lifestyle, would it not be preferable for the whole family to live in a situation where they can be given 24-hour support and supervision. They won’t change their patterns unless they do so as a group, and the alternative of the children spending their childhood in care could be expensive in terms of both cost and the impact on the children.


Not only do we have an article by the Voice Nanny of the Year in this issue, but we’ve also been contacted by Nannyshare.  The name says it all; they help parents find other families nearby that would like to share the increasing cost of childcare, especially nannies. It seems like a good idea to us. Fifty years ago, only rich families had nannies; now, a much larger section of the population uses nannies to care for their children.

Among other things, the pattern of need has changed. It is not that rich ladies of leisure want to pass over their children to nannies, nurse-maids and governesses; today in two-earner families parents care for the children as much as they can, but work commitments leave gaps, which is where nannies or childminders come in. But they don’t necessarily need full-time help, and so sharing makes sense.

If you want to learn more about Nannyshare, see their website :

More Websites

Neil Thompson has drawn our attention to a couple of websites run by Avenue Consulting. The Well-being Zone, which is on considers topics such as staff welfare and children’s well-being. The Social Work Focus website does what it says on the tin, and concerns social work with all client groups. Both sites allow readers to join their blogging communities.

Pembroke House

St Christopher’s Church, Southwark, was rededicated by the Bishop of Southwark on 24 September. We don’t normally report this sort of event, but it was the culmination of the refurbishment of Pembroke House, which is said to be the only Oxbridge settlement with an unbroken history of service to an Inner London community. It was founded in 1885 in the Walworth area, just off the Old Kent Road, a part of London which has always had more than its share of social problems.

Pembroke House is now more active than for many years, running all sorts of clubs and other services for people in the neighbourhood. It has made a name for itself by arranging the teaching of music for young people on a very wide range of instruments – some of the performers contributing to the rededication service. The Pembroke Academy now has sixty-five students.

And they still keep up active links with Pembroke College in Cambridge, among other things, encouraging young people in Walworth to broaden their horizons through Young Vision, and consider working for a university place.

For more information see .

Are Kids Eating the Right Stuff?

SMA Nutrition have conducted a survey which has shown that only 11% of toddlers get sufficient quantities of the vitamins and minerals they require. In their analysis they divided toddlers into four eating types.

“Almost half (47%) of parents feel their toddler is an adventurous Foodie Fan. These toddlers are happy to try new food and have a somewhat sophisticated palate for their years. Nearly one in three (33%) parents admit their toddler is a Contrary Kid who can be unpredictable when it comes to their ever-changing mealtime likes and dislikes.. For one in ten (9%) parents, their toddlers are the Stubborn Stompers of the bunch. These rather smart or headstrong toddlers seem to know exactly what foods they do and don’t like without even tasting them. A small minority (8%) of parents confess that their toddler is a Mini Muncher. This group will do anything to avoid eating at the table, preferring to snack their way through the day.”

SMA Nutrition got parenting and behaviour expert Eileen Hayes to provide her top five for happy toddler mealtimes:

– Don’t make a battle over food: try to be laid-back and let your child’s appetite control the amount they eat.

– Offer a new food alongside some favourites: it can take more than ten times trying a new food, before they get to like it.

– Think about how the food looks – a smiley face pizza for example, and also about the texture. A child might enjoy a raw carrot, but not like them cooked.

– Try to sit and eat with your child so it becomes an enjoyable family occasion, and they can learn from watching you eat.

– As they get older let your children help prepare the meal as this can make them much more interested.

We don’t disagree with any of the tips, but find it rather sad that they need to be offered, as they seem like common sense to us. Nor can we fathom how children are thriving so well without the vitamins and minerals they need. A recent study in The Lancet is predicting that half of today’s children will live to 100.

From an Education Welfare Record

House like a bombsight.

Who were they aiming at?

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