Thursday, November 11, 2004

Save our children from politicians

See what I mean?

Tony Blair said today (click here for the full speech):
I want an end to latch key kids as we move from the traditional welfare state to an opportunity society that helps families with the daily problems they face. I can announce today that over the next Parliament, every parent with children in primary school will be offered the guarantee of affordable school based childcare from 8 to 6, from breakfast clubs in the morning to after school clubs in the evening - and not just during term time but all the year round.
Leaving aside the meaningless, prefabricated phrases ("an-opportunity-society-that-helps-families-with-the-daily-problems-they-face"), the interesting thing here is that Mr Blair's offer sounds like of one those you can't refuse. He talks about offering a guarantee of out-of-hours care in school, but his ambition of "an end to latch key kids" will come about only if every parent takes up that offer. It is hard to see that happening without some element of compulsion.

What happened to the idea that parents are the best judges of whether their children are old enough to be left alone for a time or the idea that children might enjoy and benefit from exercising a degree of independence? We live in a society where the parent-child relationship is increasingly seen as problematic while the state-child relationship - mediated through professionals - is seen as uncomplicated and benign.

Meanwhile for the Liberal Democrats:
Education spokesman Phil Willis said the government's plans for "dawn 'til dusk childcare" was an "empty promise" until key details like how the plans would impact on teachers' pay were set out.
Yes, these details will have to be sorted out. But is teachers' pay really the thing we should be talking about on the day that childcare come to the top of the political agenda? The Lib Dems do sometimes give the impression that they are more concerned with the interests of teachers than those of children and parents.

No comments: