In June I attended The Good Childhood Conference on behalf of our Local Children’s Strategic Partnership Board. The Good Childhood Inquiry aimed to produce an evidence-based report (A Good Childhood: Searching for Values in a Competitive Age by Richard Layard and Judy Dunn) that can help to improve the lives of children and young people in the UK today.
Its three big considerations were:
- What are conditions for a good childhood?
- What obstacles exist to those conditions today?
- What changes could be made which on the basis of the evidence would be likely to improve things?
Evidence, in a variety of sources came from over 18,000 children and young people, including over 50 focus groups to hear from children and young people who rarely participate in surveys. According to the children and young people, what makes a good childhood?
- Relationships in general
- Love and support
- Having fun and enjoying life
- Make a long term commitment to each other.
- Be fully informed about what is involved before their child is born.
- Love their children, each other and establish boundaries for children. .
- Help children develop spiritual qualities.
- Help children to develop happy, likeable social personalities.
- Base discipline on mutual respect.
- Eliminate physical and psychological violence from school.
- Make Personal, Social and Health Education statutory.
- Present sex and relationships education not as biology but part of social and emotional learning.
- New tests on emotional and behavioural well being should be carefully piloted.
- Introduce non religious, free civil birth ceremonies.
- Offer high quality parenting classes, psychological support and adolescent mental health services throughout the country.
- Train at least 1,000 more highly qualified psychological therapists over the next five years.
- Automatically assess the mental health of children entering local authority care or custody.
- Raise the pay and status of all people who work with children including teachers and child care workers.
- Give a salary supplement to teachers taking jobs in deprived areas.
- Replace all SATS tests with an annual assessment designed mainly to guide a child’s learning.
- Stop publishing data on individual schools from which league tables are constructed by the media.
- Start a major campaign to persuade employers to offer apprenticeships.
- Build a high quality youth centre for every 5,000 young people.
- Ban all building on sports fields and open spaces where children play.
- Ban firms from advertising to British children under 12.
- Ban adverts for alcohol or unhealthy food on television before 9 pm.
- Reduce the proportion of children in relative poverty from 22% to under 10% by 2015.
The media should:
- Rethink the amount of violence they put out, the unbalanced impression they give of the risks that children face from strangers and the exaggerated picture they portray of young people threatening our social stability.
- Stop encouraging premature sexualisation, heavy drinking and overeating.
All Society should:
- Take a more positive attitude to children. Welcome them into society and help them.
If you haven’t read the report, it’s got a lot of detail, and is well worth getting hold of.