Chris Woodhead writing in The Times:
Children growing up in the UK are, according to a recent United Nations report, the worst off in the world. They are more likely to grow up in poverty and bad health, to have poor relationships with their parents, to take drugs and binge drink, and to have unsafe sex than children in any other wealthy country.
I suspect that Mr Woodhead meant the unicef report you can download from here, and I’m sure it’s just a slip of the pen which leads him to think that British children are in a worse position than those – say – in the Sudan or Iraq.
A reminder that as I noted before the Unicef figures are largely from 2001/02; not that things have changed necessarily in the last 6 years, just that we don’t know.
Back to Mr Woodhead who is now into his stride:
A report is to be commissioned into the commercialisation of childhood. A Youth Alcohol Action Plan is to be published alongside a Drugs Strategy to “tackle parental alcohol misuse” which – put down that glass of wine – “can influence young people’s own consumption”. “Best practice” in “effective sex and relationships education” is to be reviewed. Oh, and £160m is to be spent over the next two years “to improve the quality and range of places for young people to go and things for them to do”.
No stone is to be left unturned. There is a plan for this and a strategy for that. Advisers are to be appointed and targets set. By 2020 “all young people” will be “participating in positive activities to develop personal and social skills”, employers will be falling over themselves to recruit literate and numerate school leavers who turn up to work on time, and children generally will have had their “wellbeing enhanced”, whatever that might mean.
In Mr Woodhead’s view all this is besides the point, if not dangerous progressive claptrap, and what the government ought to do is focus on is “rigorous teaching in traditional subjects”.
Filed under: Government, UNICEF, building brighter futures, Children's Plan, DCSF