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 182.

    There's no unique way to bring up children. Every child is different and has different needs. What it really comes down to is the parent learning to take the information and advice available and use it effectively. If it takes a parenting class to do this then good for them. At least they are trying to better themselves.There are many that simply blame others instead of learning to improve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    Next week? Government classes for young people on how the cash their unemployment cheques, and what food and drink to buy in their local supermarkets.

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    meanwhile DC and the tories are throwing thousands of young people and parents on the dole in order to make life easier for their wealthy pals.

    hopefully rich, wealthy and overprivilleged parents will be given lessons on how to pay their taxes in full which they can pass on to their spoiled children.

    more mind-blowing hypocrisy from the tories. they never fail to sicken.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Amazing how bland HYS topics have become at a time when so much is happening....or not happening in the case of action on jobs, or bank reform, flagrant tax scams....

    If Greece does exit I'm fully expecting a thread on knitting on HYS....
    more tea vicar?.

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    the people who realise they need this support are likely to have already gone about getting it, those that don't are the ones i frequently see pushing their prams around smoking over their children with those lovely track suits that come in the popular colours of dirty or very dirty.

    I am sure this will be a real success, just like all the other policies DC has come out with!

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Complete waste of time as the selfish feckless people who need the training most will not go to the classes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    Totally mis-guided; misses the real target - and that is people need to be vetted first before they procreate. Some people are simply not fit to have children: preventative measures are needed & enforced too.
    Moreover, I simply cannot believe that this is coming from a supposedly die-hard Tory like Cameron. Sure way to alienate his most staunchest supporters: heaven only knows, he needs them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    If it's not a nanny state why does Disasterous Dave feel the need to convince himself and the UK public that it's not?

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    If you need to be told how to impart manners, respect for others and tolerance to your children then you really should not be allowed to make them (or practice making them) for all our sakes.

    Most else can be learned on the hoof so this really is a waste of money that apparently we don't have.

    Small government my ****

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    Parenting classes aren't necessary if a person came from a stable family background of married working parents. Then just follow their example.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    Hmm - I'm a new parent - I know nothing about bringing up kids other than that stored in my genes which is enough for beasts, but not for intelligent humans.
    So I could buy a book, browse the web, listen to my parents (if they're alive), talk to friends (if any have kids).... There are lots of potential sources of information - none are ideal - can't see anything wrong with adding to the mix.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    These aren't aimed at the people who had a decent upbringing themselves with good parents and relatives that they can turn to for support and advice. They are there for the people who don't have this help and I think they're a good idea.

    If you don't have good role models to teach you and you want to do your best, then classes on how to get the best from your children can only help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    "derwaldmann - 22-01-2011
    The Government decide to spend some money offering a service that is a very good, yet the left whinge about it. Wonder why?"

    Err, the main criticisms seem to come from those normally associated with the "right". Not that simplistic labeling of political views is very meaningful these days, but those on the "right" seem to exhibit this simplisticism more than anyone else

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    Why doesn't this idiot & fool Cameron & this government do something that actually help the people of this country like the unemployed,poor,sick & disabled,instead of all these gimmicks & PR stunts

  • rate this

    Comment number 168.

    The problem is that those who need it the most, don't care enough to sign up for lessons. The ones that care enough to sign up for lessons will probably make pretty decent parents anyway.
    I'd be more worried that one of teh groups providing the lessons is run by David Camerons old etonian school mate!! Jobs for boys perhaps?

  • rate this

    Comment number 167.

    Absolutely ridiculous...Taking the responsibility of parenting comes with deciding to have children. This and previous government's interference and that of others, has been teaching the young that it's ok to off-load responsibility if they don't feel like the task. The state our society is in now results from years of rejecting the value system that held good until the '60's'.

  • rate this

    Comment number 166.

    Parenting classes are a great idea for those who need them. A simple common sense assessment could decide whether you need the extra help a parenting class would provide, to be sterilised, or, if you're a decent semi-intelligent citizen in a stable loving relationship, you're left alone by the state to go about your business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 165.

    I'm sorry if some genuinely good parents get a bit hot under the collar about this, but unfortunately a large number of "parents" need to be told what to do with their disobedient little brats.
    and we can start with
    1) A TV is NOT a Babysitter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 164.

    I have no strong feelings about the issue as such, but I do wish politicians would stop using some convenient parrot phrase to beat the opposition and then pretend they're not doing the same thing by use of casuistic semantics. More honesty & truthfulness wouldn't come amiss - rather than opportunist flannel.

  • rate this

    Comment number 163.

    I hope the first lesson will be that babies are separate people not a part of their parents.They are potential independent adults.
    Parental responsibilities take precedence over parental rights.
    Children have rights and parents need to know how to get round the way kids interpret them. (They DO them at school)


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