David Cameron denies parenting classes 'nanny state'


David Cameron: ''Parents want help''

Related Stories

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."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 142.

    A complete waste of money and yet more pressure on parents. My advice to parents - free - is ditch the mobile phone and electronic toys and give your children the attention they need from you to learn how to interact socially and to learn right from wrong. Treat your children with respect and they will respect you.

  • rate this

    Comment number 141.

    I cant think of a better reason for licensing procreation. If you are unable to look after your children then you should NOT be having any.

    Its like getting into a car and driving around crashing into everyone, then the government saying, maybe we should have some driver training before we get into our cars.

    The fact we need this at all for parents is shocking to me, and a sad state of affairs..

  • rate this

    Comment number 140.

    It's all based on dodgy scientific understanding that's moulded to fit the governments agenda of social engineering. Total waste of time. It isn't the Nanny state, social engineering is much more sinister.

  • rate this

    Comment number 139.

    121. surfingkenny
    lets be honest a large % of children who have children havent a clue,
    Wouldn't disagree - realistically though, are they going to beat the doors down to get into the classroom.
    What's the point of trying to help folk further down the food chain when the level of corruption and immorality at the top is so breathtakingly depressing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 138.

    Poor parenting is a very serious problem that needs addressing but I don't think this sort of blanket one size fits all solution will work.

    Mr Cameron needs (he seems to be ignoring his own pledge here) to be focusing 100% on jobs, industrial output, exports, regulating a wild west banking system, the housing crisis.

  • rate this

    Comment number 137.

    I agree that we should give this scheme a go...but what do you do about the bad parents that don't want to attend such classes? These are undoubtly the most troublesome group. Choices are far as I can see:

    1) Remove the children and put them into care?
    2) Force the parents to attend such classes and hope something sticks...if it doesn't put the children into care?

    Ideas on a postcard?

  • 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.

  • rate this

    Comment number 135.

    Nothing is ever "FREE" because someone has to pay for it.

    If children's parents do not know how to behave, it is not a lack of education but an inherent lack of responsibility and or sensibility.

    Carers or parents get "Child Benefit" payments in order to maintain their children.

    These should be reduced at 3rd and subsequent child to prevent cash cowing families.

    Bad parenting? Stopped at once!

  • rate this

    Comment number 134.

    I practically raised my baby sister from when I was 15, bathing her, feeding her, winding her, changing her, helping her learn to walk, then read and so on. I didn`t need parenting classes to do any of those tasks or how to cope. This is the nanny state in full throttle. Remember, it was Cameron criticising labour for making people reliant on the state. Anyway, I thought we were broke

  • rate this

    Comment number 133.

    This is another one of those initiatives (Eat 5-a-day, Drink Responsibly, Stop Smoking etc. etc.) where those who heed it don't need it and those who need it won't heed it. Sadly, politicians don't want to accept that fact.

    Some people are completely unsuitable to be parents and no amount of vouchers and parenting classes will change that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 132.

    AT LAST!! I have been saying for years that young people need to learn more about looking after a home and children than irrelevant lessons in schools. I have been a foster carer of newborns for the past 17 years and a lot of children are taken into care because the parents have no idea how to cope and it has got too much for them. Well done Mr Cameron, I hope it takes off to becomes a must do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 131.

    Instead of parenting classes what is needed are responsibility classes. People need to understand that having children is a huge step and shouldn't be entered into lightly unless you have two parents, a stable home and at least one decent income. Having kids is not about getting access to housing and handouts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 130.

    This will definitely benefit those in need. I am against many things this government does, but this is good, there's to many young irresponsible, ignorant children having children in our modern society and since 'morals' come before wealth and knowledge now, these children are being brought up badly and in poverty.

  • rate this

    Comment number 129.

    "People have been having babies for thousands of years and managing very nicely thank you without inteferance from government"

    If they didn't keep repeating the same mistakes you might have a point, but the do fail to learn from the experiences of family and society and hence don't do "very nicely thank you". Poverty and war would be history if we did apply the lessons of the past.

  • rate this

    Comment number 128.

    Child abuse (and abuse of women who are often the main childcarers) is most likely to be carried out by people (mostly men) whom children know, and obviously includes their parents. As a society, we have a duty to protect these children and support/education sems a good place to start to tackle cycles of deprivation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 127.

    For heavens sake whatever next exams in parenting ofstead inspections all at a terrific cost, so wonder which of Camerons mates/tory party sponsors will get this lucrative contract. The country is going barking mad or just this coalition government maybe

  • rate this

    Comment number 126.

    "In recent years, there's been an explosion of information about bringing up children"

    Perhaps the gov can genetically engineer children to come with instructions birth-scarred onto them

    Perhaps a website with instructions (they could call it advice, for obvious reasons) - jobsfortheboys(&girls).com
    Then issue passwords to “control” levels of access, I mean riff-raff is riff-raff isn’t it

  • rate this

    Comment number 125.

    Maybe this scheme will employ all the Nana's that aren't already working at the Shreddies factory?

    Won't be long until these courses become compulsory and you have to pass the test before conception (not a bad thing in my mind...)

  • rate this

    Comment number 124.

    What's also scary is how professionals are leaving their infants in the hands of young girls (in general) in nurseries who tend to come from difficult and poor backgrounds with very few qualifications - as a result of poor parenting!! Education standards and parenting values have gone awry.. hand in hand.

  • rate this

    Comment number 123.

    I was idealistic before I had children (I'd be the kindest, most patient parent etc). When my daughter hit the terrible 2s and my son was a few months old, it was so stressful. I dreaded my husband coming home, because he had no patience (we'd been happily married for 11 years).
    Parenting classes were very helpful, to discuss ideas with other people and not to be judged. We got through it.


Page 31 of 38


More Politics stories



Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.