News Views – January 2007

A mixture of news items, future events, sales pitches, comments and whimsies, including the Green Paper, smoking, poverty, together with bits and pieces such as beanstalks, bottled water, Cbeebies, binbags, bracelets, the Barbican’s birthday, Government consultation, advice for childminders, chips, cheers and children’s books.

The Green Paper

Without any planning, the Green Paper has become the Webmag theme of the month, and several of the articles are relevant to the debates in the Paper.

The Green Paper makes a lot of the education of children in care, for example, highlighting the poor attainments of most of the children who have been through the care system. By contrast, Keith White gives an excellent example of a person who has experienced care and whose education history appears (to date) to have been a success, not just in terms of attainments but also concerning her attitude to learning and life. The Government would do well to emphasise what has worked effectively, rather than bemoan failures.

Valerie Jackson has written movingly about her adult daughter’s need for parental support. The Green Paper speaks of the importance of aftercare. It states that children leave home on average at the age of twenty-four; those in care leave on average a lot younger (over a quarter at the age of 16). But if Valerie’s daughter needs support, how much more do those who have been in care – even well on into their adult lives? In view of the rejection, abuse, and failure that many of them have experienced as children, it is no wonder that they are vulnerable to abusing drugs and alcohol, to becoming involved in crime or to replicating their early experiences in their own roles as parents and partners.

The SIRCC column is relevant too, with its emphasis on positive residential care. Over recent years SIRCC has had a really positive impact within Scotland, but its events are open to Sassenachs as well. If you’ve not been to one of their conferences, why not give it a try – whichever side of the border you live on?

The Editorial argues for the need to learn from history. The Green Paper is a brave new attempt by the DfES and its Secretary of State, Alan Johnson, but its authors would do well to take a look back at what has happened before, in order to avoid the elephant traps. The Remember column reminded us of Sir Ronald Waterhouse’s report, Lost in Care. It is still relatively recent as far as history goes, but its 72 recommendations are very pertinent to the establishment of good quality residential care.

And of course, there is the Webmag’s own response to the Green Paper. There is still time to write in, if you haven’t submitted your evidence yet. The deadline is 15 January 2007.

Stop Smoking

The NSPCC report that a poll for ChildLine has found that youngsters want their parents to stub out their cigarettes in the New Year.

The survey on behalf of ChildLine asked 461 young people aged 11 to 16 from across Britain what they wanted their parents’ New Year resolutions to be. Giving up smoking was the single most popular pledge children picked for their parents in 2007, particularly for 11-year-olds with one in six having this top of their wish list. Since we gave up smoking in 1959 on the grounds that it is an expensive way to get cancer, we cannot fathom why this antisocial habit is still around.

Young people who took part in the poll were also eager to have their voices heard and to have more control over their lives. Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of young people surveyed wanted parents to listen to them more. Sixty-one per cent said they wanted to be consulted about decisions that impacted on their lives. Over half of youngsters said they did not want their parents to shout at them.

Sixty-two per cent of children polled were keen for their parents to treat them as a ‘grown-up’. This was especially important to older children, with almost three-quarters of 16-year-olds wanting this to feature on their parents’ New Year resolutions list. Encouragingly sixty per cent of children were keen to be given more responsibility by their parents, rising to 70 per cent for boys aged 15 to 16 years.

Children were asked to grade a set of resolutions from agree strongly to disagree strongly (Question A), and then to pick one single resolution they would most like their parents to make (Question B).

Question A: Percentage of children who agreed with the following statements:

  1. Buy me special treats/presents (66%)
  2. Listen to my point of view (64%)
  3. Help me do things (63%)
  4. Treat me like a grown up (62%)
  5. Let me stay up later (61%)
  6. Ask me about decisions that affect me (61%)
  7. Give me responsibility (60%)
  8. Treat me fairly (59%)
  9. Praise me when I do something good (54%)
  10. Look after me when I am unwell (52%)
  11. Not to shout at me (51%)
  12. Let me go out by myself (49%)
  13. Make time to discuss things with me (46%)
  14. Give me fewer chores (45%)
  15. Spend (more) time with me (42%)
  16. Work fewer hours (37%)
  17. Let me do what I like on the internet (33%)
  18. Let me watch 18+ films (33%)
  19. Mum/dad to stop smoking (30%)
  20. Parents to argue less (26%)

Question B: When asked what the single most important resolution children would like their parents to make, ranked in order of popularity:

  1. Mum/ dad to stop smoking
  2. Let me stay up later
  3. Treat me like a grown up
  4. Buy me special treats/presents
  5. Give me fewer chores
  6. Listen to my point of view more
  7. Work less hours
  8. Give me responsibility
  9. Ask me about decisions that affect me
  10. Not shout at me


In a speech on 21 December 2006 Rt Hon Menzies Campbell MP, leader of the Liberal Democrats, committed the party to the Government’s targets to End Child Poverty by 2020 and halve it by 2010.

Laura Payne, spokesperson for the Campaign to End Child Poverty, said, “We are delighted that the Liberal Democrats have signed up to the targets on Child Poverty; we warmly welcome the new political consensus across the three main parties that child poverty must be eradicated from our society and recognise the added pressure that Campbell’s statement today places on the Government to start achieving its aims to halve child poverty by 2010.”
Labour set these vital targets in 1999 to ensure progress would be made on child poverty but narrowly missed their quarter way mark earlier this year. There are 3.4 million children still living in poverty and the UK record is one of the worst for a developed country.

This is certainly the sort of campaign on which we need an all-party consensus, if it is to be taken forward regardless of the colour of the Government, but what chance have we, as a country, if it takes the three main parties seven years to form a consensus on this sort of key issue?

Bits and Pieces

This column used to be called Bits and Pieces, but it seemed rather a trivial title for some of the heavy issues we address from time to time. However, we have been bombarded over Christmas time with a whole welter of items that may be of interest to people who work with children. We do not mean the thousands of emails we get, urging us to buy watches that look just like Rolexes, or to order medicaments from Canada. These may genuinely relate to child care one way or another. We do not endorse any of them, but they are here in case any reader finds them of interest.

Loughborough Town Hall write :
We hope you’ve had as much fun as we have over the last twelve months! With a new festival, some superb children’s shows, classic comedy and astonishing theatre it’s been quite a year. Jack and the Beanstalk runs until January 7th and the new brochure has just come out. If you want to start planning your entertainment for the New Year just take a look at our website… which will be getting a facelift soon, so look out for an exciting new image!

One Water
We’ve mentioned this company before. They sell bottled water, but with a strong ethical line, as they use the profits to help people in other countries to pump up clean water by powering the pumps with school roundabouts. The more the children play on the roundabouts, the more water there is for the village’s crops. Win, win!

Sergeant Stripes
This DVD will be released in February – a story about an Itty Bitty Kitty protecting the city, based on a CBeebies hit TV series. The plot seemed as complicated and nonsensical as the typical eighteenth century opera, but no doubt the kids will like it. See

Over 90 local authorities have now signed up to the National Voice campaign to do away with binbags as a way of transporting the possessions of children in care. If you work in one of the other 60 authorities, perhaps you would like to have a look at their website : :

Bracelets and Binges
IdentifyMe has introduced a range of fashionable and stylish bracelets that combine Swarovski crystals, sterling silver beads and an unobtrusive emergency ID tag which can be engraved with key information such as a parent’s or friend’s contact phone number.

Nadine Lewis, Managing Director of IdentifyMe, said, “In no way are we encouraging young women to binge drink. However, we received a number of requests for this type of product to be made available from customers. For parents of young women who partake in this type of weekend drinking it is particularly worrying. The ID jewellery means that in the event of an emergency, the wearer’s family and friends can be contacted immediately. It also has an advantage over the mobile phone as the bracelet is always with the wearer and cannot be lost.” ID bracelets from IdentifyMe are available from or by calling 0845 125 95 39.

Barbican Birthday
The Barbican is celebrating its 25th birthday next year. 25 landmark events throughout 2007 have been programmed embodying the vision of the arts programme.

One major event on the actual birthday weekend, Saturday 3 March – Sunday 4 March 2007, is the Do Something Different weekend, and it’s entirely designed for families to engage in a magnitude of events: workshops, free activities, lunchtime performances, a chill-out zone, drop in activities and sing-alongs are examples. Contact the box office: 0845 120 7550, .

Young people’s rights – online survey
The Government has launched an online survey for children and young people about their rights. The survey asks children and young people about their views and experiences of children’s rights. The results will be included in the Government’s next report to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, to be submitted by July 2007. For more information visit the website. Deadline for survey submissions is the 31st January 2007. Or contact FYT on .

Guide for Minders
The National Childminding Association (NCMA), in conjunction with the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), has published a new booklet for registered childminders and nannies. ‘Safeguarding Children – a Guide for Childminders and Nannies’ will be a useful tool or these home-based childcarers to refer to if they have concerns about a child.

This organisation has published a magazine called Peppermint Ward, to help children with cancer to be able to face up to their illness. There is also an interactive website aimed at teenagers called TIC (Teen Info on Cancer – which offers honest practical advice and support on how to cope with cancer, as well as space to share experiences. The launch of Peppermint Ward adds another information resource for an even younger audience faced with cancer. Call Cancerbackup’s helpline on 0808 800 1234 for information on cancer and a free copy of Peppermint Ward.

Oven Chips save Lives
The Fire Kills campaign is supporting National Chip Week (12 – 18 February 2007) by urging people to cook chips safely. Around 8,200 chip pan fires result in 31 deaths and nearly 3,000 injuries in the UK each year so it is vital to reduce fire hazards and cook safely. We’re not sure whether this is a childcare issue, but it’s an important message, especially for anyone who fancies chips on getting home from an evening at the pub.

Christmas Cheers
This Christmas, BT Conferencing, in conjunction with BT Group. is donating £250,000 to ChildLine on behalf of its customers, instead of sending out Christmas cards and presents. Good for them. They deserve a bit of publicity.

Children’s Books
There is a growing demand for books that adults can easily create about any subject, from fact to fiction. However books that children can create have been somewhat overlooked, Celebration Books have recognised this and created the Children’s Book, which a child writes and creates via the internet and then the team at Celebration Books turns into a traditional hard-backed book for them.

Each book contains 12 chapters and 24 pictures, which means that a child can now create their own book about any subject. Produced on the internet, there is no time limit on how long the child can take, they simply log in and out of their own secure space on the Celebration Books server. The book could be about their summer holidays, a present for their grandparents, a school project or their own story. The hard backed Children’s Books have an index, twelve chapters and a very professional finish, which will take pride of place on anyone’s bookshelf.

The Children’s Book is available from £29 plus p&p and there is no charge or commitment until they have finished and their Book has been approved. Click on: and see how easy it is to create.

We understand that the typical child sees 20,000 – 40,000 advertisements on television every year. If so, doesn’t it show how ineffective a lot of them must be? Maybe children are more discriminating than adults give them credit for. On the other hand, the widespread yearning for MacDonalds rather undermines that line of argument.

That’s enough adverts for this issue. Remember that the pieces above are largely lifted from the advertisers’ press releases and we are not endorsing them personally. Caveat emptor.

From the Case Files

She was resolved to exercise her demons.

So she took them to the gym?

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.