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 742.

    Those who should seek help with their parenting skills will not attend these courses. For parents who want help, health visitors are an excellent source of information for first time parents. Perhaps the government should put the money towards providing more of these professionals who visit all parents not just those who want help. Coincidence that one of Cam's buddies runs these types of classes

  • rate this

    Comment number 741.

    I'm no fan of this government, but this isn't at all a bad idea. For 27 years I have sat at parents' evenings opposite people who are good, decent, hardworking, well-meaning people who love their kids and genuinely want the best for them.
    But they don't understand basic things about discipline, setting examples, etc. Their kids are going off the rails and they can't cope. That costs too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 740.

    Scary stuff

    Governments are interfering in more and more of our personal lives

    They need to focus on what matters

    Like jobs

  • rate this

    Comment number 739.

    686>their children are disadvantaged educationally well before their first day at school. Closing that gap is proving more and more difficult which is tragic for the children and a timebomb for society.
    This post really bugged me!.
    teachers have it hard I understand, but the 'disadvantaged' kids are as bright as 'normal kids' take my word for it, so please don't pity them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 738.

    Given that there are an alarming number of people neglecting children and the proper authorities not acting until too late it's a positive step in the right direction. When I was at school I took CSE childcare as a subject which prepared me for becoming a mother and I managed to do a good job at it. Parenting isn't innate, it is learned the more the better.

  • rate this

    Comment number 737.

    "PC Laws and Political Dogma has been the cause."
    Surely you mean the nastier side of human nature is to blame?

  • rate this

    Comment number 736.

    Why do people feel the government can solve everything for them? And why does the government feel it can solve everyones problems? Absolute waste of money and a PR stunt. If you want to know why children are behaving so badly it's because authority has been removed from every facet of of this something-for-nothing society.

  • rate this

    Comment number 735.

    As we have witnessed during the past Decade - this scheme is SORELY needed. Too many of our Children have not been raised properly and this need has been ignored for too long. PC Laws and Political Dogma has been the cause.

    But we OWE it to those Children to EXPECT their Parents to do THEIR job - NOT leave it to the Schools & Councils...

  • rate this

    Comment number 734.


    The thing is, people are being given vouchers to attend parenting classes, but there is no compulsion or legal requirement to do so.

    Will it do any good? I don't know, but bundling it up into 'Nanny State' is just taking offence for the sake of taking offence and a complete misinterpretation of the term.

  • rate this

    Comment number 733.

    Thankfully my partner is naturally an excellent mother and I have learned a lot from her. Her sister on the other hand is a terrible mother, no maternal instinct at all, and would probably benefit massively from parenting classes. The whole family have tried to help her for her son's sake but it's like talking to brick wall to the point of family tension, she wouldn't attend a course.

  • rate this

    Comment number 732.

    I am one of 4 kids,dad worked hard all his life, asked for v little, got nothing from the system, taught us morals, i am a parent of 4 we have raised our kids without help, 2 work,1 in college 1 in school, same morals taught by us to our kids, seem to be doing ok for themselves.
    solution to problem,instil moral values at home ie teach right from wrong, set them on the right path, simples !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 731.

    Comming soon!

    Toilet lessons, for the dribblers!

    Big brother

  • rate this

    Comment number 730.

    722. Pdibbs
    If it were a Nanny state, they would be compulsory.
    Why the change?

  • rate this

    Comment number 729.

    Parenting 50 year ago: You WILL do as I tell you, not do as I do.
    Parenting today: Kids need to be kids, let them enjoy themselves.
    First too rigid, second too lax.
    Age 7: The brain's synapse paths are at their peak
    Early teens: The brain destroys unused paths. (retain the habits they have developed)
    Children to school to increase IQ to aid their success
    What do we do to help their EQ? Spoil them

  • rate this

    Comment number 728.

    I am currently doing a parenting course on teenagers and would recommend everyone to do it. I believe we should all have access to parenting courses, I certainly have found there is no stigma attached after all we all want whats best for our children. Needing a little help or guidance is no shame, parenting is the hardest job in the world.

  • rate this

    Comment number 727.

    720 guess who dunnit

    in answer to your question, perhaps sterilisation ?
    for some of the population it would not be a bad thing, might solve future problems

  • rate this

    Comment number 726.

    At the moment anything the government do will be met with contempt from the masses. Unfortunately the conservative vision of 'work hard, play hard and look after your family' doesnt sit well with the 'get what you can, contribute little and only care about yourself' attitude that two labour terms instilled.

    Family life is in a mess and good if this helps to instill values then it will do no harm

  • rate this

    Comment number 725.

    @Kristal Tips "In generations gone by".

    What you've described is post war Britain. Before then it was common for BOTH parents to work, as well as the kids. You're right about a stronger sense of family community though but the idea that woman have always stayed at home and not worked until recently is only really true after the war, when we needed the soldiers back in the jobs the woman had.

  • rate this

    Comment number 724.

    Whatever happened to commonsense? Good parenting cannot be taught, it is similar to knowing right from wrong. We are now in a society where everyone expects a leg up, forget pride and self respect. I absolutely do not believe this is something we as taxpayers pay for particularly when we pay child benefit, tax credits and free nursery places. Families with children get more than their share

  • rate this

    Comment number 723.

    We're not stupid Mr Cameron. This a blatant case of implementing something which is already in existence and doesn't need repeating, purely so at the next election you can say "I've addressed our 'broken society' and made improvements to the way parents are taught to be parents." What a load of rubbish. Nobody will go to these classes, unless you make them a court punishment for poor parenting!


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