Just a random thought …. Will today’s children be able to sue the Government……   14 comments

….. for destroying their childhood?

……. for limiting their opportunities to play?

….. for damaging their mental health?

……. for limiting the time they spend with their family?

……. for limiting their educational attainment through a narrow vision of success?

……. for labelling them as failures because the goals set are not age appropriate?

…….. for insisting the Government way, is the only way despite the evidence from research and professionals

As I say I am just wondering, because as an early years practitioner;

I am very aware that I could be taken to court by the family of a child in my care now if my practice in any way causes harm to that child

I am very aware that a once a child who has been in my care is old enough they could sue me

I am very aware that I must keep detailed records to prove my case if I am sued

I am very aware that I must be able to prove that I followed the recommended standards of practice, and be able to justify any actions I take

I am very aware that I must always safeguard the children in my care in the widest sense of the word, to ensure their well-being and development at all times

So my thoughts are ‘Does the same apply to the Government and to the individuals who make up the Government?’

After all;

We all know about war crimes where individuals acted under orders but are held responsible for harming others

We all know about police officers who are held responsible for doing their best but harming others

We all know about companies and individuals who are held responsible for failing to follow guidance and advice.

So if the Government continues to ignore the advice of professionals, continue to implement policy which they think best but many disagree with, continue to have no regard to the well-being and development of children …..

……will those children be able to sue the Government and individuals within the Government, when there is proof that the Government failed to safeguard their well-being and development?

I find it worrying that I am thinking about such things, and that I can think of not one, but many Government policies that are not in the best interests of children.

Surely, I should not be having these thoughts?

Surely I should have faith in the Government of this country to ensure every child is safeguarded –not just from child protection issues, but from policies that damage their well-being and development.

I hope ‘common sense’ will prevail and the Government stop and think things through, because the cost to the country if these policies are continued to be implemented could be huge if people hold the Government responsible, the cost to the very heart of society will be immense, but the cost to the children of this country will be irreversible and no amount of compensation will bring back childhood and opportunities for family life, individual education journeys or mental well-being.

Government, do you really think you are right about education policy, especially that in the early years sector, that you are prepared to put your professional and personal future at risk of being held responsible for what I can only describe as crimes against humanity?

Of course I could be wrong but if I was in Government I would want to be sure –very sure that this would not come back and bite me.

Just as I and all the others entrusted with the care and education of our children do every day by ensuring that we safeguard the children’s well-being and development.

Is it too much to ask that the Government do the same? And if that is a step too far, too soon for Government, a starting point would be to listen, really listen to professional advice from those who disagree with Government policies and to then reflect on this.

Personally I would be happy to talk with Government face to face, free of charge, at any time.

However, I am not sure the Government want to talk to me, or anyone else who might disagree with Government policy.

Please note this blog contains personal opinion, and is not the view of any organisation or individual that I work in partnership with

14 responses to “Just a random thought …. Will today’s children be able to sue the Government……

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  1. sadly I have thought the same

  2. Penny, you’re wonderful.

    I’ve been in primary education for forty years, as a teacher, headteacher and then an independent literacy consultant. Over the last fifteen years, I’ve also written umpteen books about child development in the modern world. Everything I’ve learned during all these years in education convinces me that current government policy about the early years is utterly misguided.

    Sadly, I fear that , by the time the children whose lives they’re blighting are old and informed enough to sue them, today’s politicians will (like Gerald Janner) be able to plead old age and dementia.

    Sue Palmer (author of Toxic Childhood)

  3. Genius of an idea from Penny here: at the very least, this could be the theme for a brilliant spoof column – maybe we should get someone like Mark Steel on the case. (I’m serious…) If the research evidence does indeed show that early ‘schoolification’ harms children (which it unequivocally does), then it seems to me that there must exist a prima facie case here for suing the Dept for Education. At the very least, it would have the civil servants in the DfE hopping about!! I think I’ll consult some legal opinion on this – watch this space, And if you’re reading this, Nicky or Sam – be afraid, be VERY afraid – we’re on your case…
    Richard House

  4. Well said Penny. As an early years practitioner of almost 40 years I agree and the lastest attempt to take it further and change gcse’s to ensure we get results like high performing countries – they seem to be deliberately ignoring the fact that those said countries don’t send children into formal education until age 7 not 2!!!!!

    • Exactly they cherry pick the bits that suit them. In my opinion the whole system from early years to university is in a mess. The early years are crucial if children are to such on their chosen path (note not the path chosen by government). They seem to think everyone is wrong, and need telling how to do their professional jobs that they have chosen to do, which makes me laugh because all of us professionals have been through the education system of the past and the career training of the time, and we have done ok on the whole. It is only since we have had all the constant changes (rather than occasional changes) and ignoring of research, professional opinion, and expert advice that things have got into the mess they are now.

      Oh I know the government can churn out data that says otherwise, but that data is so narrow and so focussed on supporting what the government wants to prove that it is useless.

      Looking at the bigger picture of what is happening to the well being of our children and young people through health, social services, justice and other indicators, gives a far more realisti, and worrying picture.

  5. Very well said. I’m an early years practitioner with over 20 years experience both in teaching, nurseries and childminding. I have always despaired at how every Government undervalues early years and failing to realise that if we get that right then the rest will fall into place. Educating and nurturing a child is like building a house – if you don’t get the foundations solid and stable the house will fall down. The same can be said for children – if the foundations of good quality early years support/learning and experiences are missing then children struggle. About 10 years ago I worked as an intervention leader in a school. I worked, not with children with additional needs but with mainstream children who were falling behind and were not working to the level that was typical of their age, despite then being bright, able children in other areas – these children were some of the first children to experience the National Numeracy and National Literacy Strategies. Our poor children have been on the end of change, after change, after change and has it been beneficial? What worries me is that the Government only sees the end picture of what is happening in other countries – the good exam results and standards in literacy and numeracy. What it does not see is the excellent early years facilities and the fact that formalised schooling does not happen until the age of 7.

  6. Penny, you sound as exasperated as I am. Excellent points that I’m sure lots of us having been thinking too. I won’t say “time will tell” because I don’t ever want it to get to the point where children are harmed. Emotional pain runs very deeply, and often long term and all learning relies upon children’s personal, social and emotional development – without being secure in this crucial aspect of learning and development very little of any value is learned. Think Leuven (www.plymouth.gov.uk/documents-ldtoolkitleuven.pdf) – he knew the score. The Government do indeed cherry pick what suits them and ignores what doesn’t. And children starting school the term after they turn 4 has always rankled me but now we’ve got poor little 2 year olds being schoolified. Scandinavians must be laughing their heads off at us. Closing the gap? We’re splitting it wide open.

    • Totally agree. Andrea the gap will get bigger between our children and those in other countries, and the gap between children in this country will not be closed, because these children need time to develop those foundations before being pushed onto the escalator of learning in schools that goes too fast and only in one direction.

  7. Thought provoking as always Penny.

    Having grown up in South Africa where we were barefoot, climbing trees, swimming, exploring our environment, learning fundamental life skills through our own play for years … BEFORE engaging in ANY kind of formal education, which started at around 6/7 years… I feel we were so much more ready for the formality of school. Emotionally, socially, in every way.

    I worry about the stress and pressures our young children face in England. It breaks my heart to see a child’s schedule filled to the brim with homework, extra curricular activities etc. etc. It is all just TOO MUCH. and I feel it’s backfiring. In a big way. Our children are coming out the other end of ‘education’ feeling burdened, highly pressured, disillusioned and, dare I say, scarred.

    Push back education till age 7… NOT forward to 2!!! This ‘schoolification’ of our youngsters is frightening. I despair when I hear people making huge decisions that impact a child’s life so fundamentally.. But I guess we shouldn’t be surprised as those in power have no Early Years background/qualifications/inherent passion and knowledge over the sector they preside and make decisions on behalf of.

    Scary, isn’t it?

    If I hired my Early Years staff the way govt. puts ministers into office I wouldn’t have a workable business. A faulty blue print. It needs to stop. Those that CAN make these decisions need to be making them. We are doing a huge disservice to our children by not ensuring we protect their childhood and put their needs first, not the govt’s economic wants.

    • Thank you Jen, wise words
      Your comment about before engaging in any kind of formal education, is so important. As is that fact that for a lot of time we decided what to do and no one was concerned if say we chose not to climb trees but did a lot of swimming or lying on our tummies watching ants, because everyone knew if we were interested we wouldbe happy, motivated and developing.

  8. Pingback: Another thought! Can we ‘remove children’ from Government care and /or influence? | Penny's Place Childminding

  9. Pingback: Testing: Education or Abuse? | Educating Cedric

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