David Cameron denies parenting classes 'nanny state'


David Cameron: ''Parents want help''

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Describing vouchers for parenting classes in England as a "nanny state" policy is "nonsense", David Cameron has said.

In three trial areas, those with children aged up to five can get a £100 voucher towards parenting classes.

The PM has also announced a new NHS online information service for parents of very young children.

Labour said it had an "open mind" but schemes needed to be "value for money" and reach a "wide range of parents".

Defending the policy, David Cameron said: "I think this whole debate about nanny state is nonsense.

"Parents want help. It is in our interest as a society to help people bring up their children.

"We're taught to drive a car. We're taught all sorts of things at school. I think it makes perfect sense to help people with parenting."

He denied that a focus on parenting and childcare was a diversion from "big issues" like the economy.

The vouchers are now available from health professionals and on the high street through the chemist Boots.

Start Quote

Britain's families need Supernanny, not the nanny state”

End Quote David Cameron in 2006

The scheme, known as Can Parent, was launched in October 2011. It is being piloted in Middlesbrough, Camden in London and High Peak in Derbyshire.

The government hopes to encourage demand for these kind of classes and "reduce the stigma of asking for information, advice and help with parenting."

In addition, the government is launching a new NHS online service for parents covering areas such as breastfeeding, nappy changing and post natal depression.

Expectant parents or those with a baby under a month old will be able to sign up for text and email alerts providing them with "regular, relevant and tailored" advice including short information films and advice from other parents.

From July, subsidised relationship support services will be available for new parents and those expecting in several trial areas: York, Leeds, North Essex, Hackney, the City of London, Islington and Westminster. The scheme will not be extended to Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, if successful.

Mr Cameron said he would have liked parenting lessons himself.

"I've got three, and the youngest is not yet two, and I still sometimes think I would love to have a bit more information about how to get them to do the things I need them to do sometimes," he told ITV1's Daybreak.

However, in 2006 in a speech to the National Family and Parenting Institute, Mr Cameron suggested parents found TV programmes like Supernanny more useful than parenting classes.

"In recent years, there's been an explosion of information about bringing up children: TV programmes like Wifeswap and Supernanny, books and magazines, and online resources," said Mr Cameron.

"These can be more useful than formal options like parenting classes, to which there is often a stigma attached.

"So we should encourage the growth of modern forms of parenting advice.

"Britain's families need Supernanny, not the nanny state."

Shadow education secretary, Stephen Twigg said he would keep an "open mind" on parenting classes but said the government "has hit families with children hard" with cuts to tax credits and Sure Start centres.

He said: "Most importantly, any new scheme must be able to reach a wide range of parents from different backgrounds and provide real value for money."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 567.

    Given that the UK has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Europe I don't think this is such a bad idea. Arguments that the government is trying to 'control' us through parenting classes are just plain stupid. I think the only concern is whether the money could be spent elsewhere.

  • rate this

    Comment number 441.

    I just can't understand the reasons. We are becoming a nanny state. The government love it and want everybody to depend on them and dance to their tune. What next, classes on how to think?
    Stop the reliance on the government help and think for yourself and have a voice not a noddy head.

  • rate this

    Comment number 350.

    In generations gone by, most families lived in extended families, knew everyone in the neighbourhood and had a mum at home full time. Things are harder now, we all live more independently of each other, everyone has to be able to do everything (career and home). Support networks of "other older mums" to chat with aren't there. These groups help to compensate for that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    In school we used to have a class called "Home Economics" that would teach us lifeskills like cooking and sewing etc (both boys and girls). I don't see why we cant add in new stuff like balancing a budget, parenting etc.
    I really benefitted from the cooking classes. My own mother used to use frozen pre-packaged foods all the time and never made anything from scratch. Classes are awesome!

  • rate this

    Comment number 136.

    Well, without any parenting classes we had 4 kids. They grew up into sane(ish) decent, middle aged individuals with jobs. Our parents brought up 2 kids each seemingly without too much trauma & difficulty. Our kids only have 3 between them & they have grown into selfish demanding teenagers who expect to be waited upon & given all they desire. Perhaps the problem is deeper than parenting classes.


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