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 362.

    There are considerable numbers of parents who are illiterate or learning disabled and cannot access basic parenting guidance. Provision of tailored parenting classes for these people can keep families together and is not only essential, but also cheaper than removal, court proceedings and foster care. However, these vouchers are a merely a token given the massive cuts to Surestart already made.

  • rate this

    Comment number 361.

    It's a bit late now. The badly behaved, selfish and callous have managed to get into government. I guess their parents are to blame.

  • rate this

    Comment number 360.

    Perhaps it is about time to adopt a more proactive education system in relation to ensuring that school children are given advice and lessons, and tasks so that they are maid more aware of parental responsibility and what their parents do / supposed to do, thus preparing them becoming parents and making them far more responsible for them selves’, after all surly it’s a two way issue is it not

  • rate this

    Comment number 359.

    "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."

    Wow. Since when did the Tories start making sense? Cameron's logic here is not only visionary, but it's correct too. Now let's hope he follows through and delivers a comprehensive programme to ensure all UK parents can access the support and advice they deserve!

  • rate this

    Comment number 358.

    Lived in America for 14 years- seen the results of inadequate parenting; it is also happening here and going fast downhill. What I would like to know is, who are responsible for teaching these classes and what is the curruculum? Something is not working!

  • rate this

    Comment number 357.

    "makar - thread killer
    ridiculous statement. We learn how to parent from our parents. The present is always a link to the past."

    What about those without living parents or close relatives? What about those who live a long way from their parents?

  • Comment number 356.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 355.

    344 You have hit the nail right on the head. I defy anyone to go to Dagenham Heathway and deny the truth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 354.

    People who say "we never needed these classes in the past, so why now?" have a point when they speak of the majority who raise their children reasonably well, but fail to address the issue of, e.g., 'feral children' and children who grow up with 'celebrities' as their main interest. It is them that this policy may help, but it'll have to be persisted in for several generations.

  • rate this

    Comment number 353.

    So you don't believe anyone should be taught anything about parenting? Might explain the uselessness of some parents these days.


    ridiculous statement. We learn how to parent from our parents. The present is always a link to the past.

  • rate this

    Comment number 352.

    What happened to D.C. and his 'I want less interference from goverment'
    approach to people in the run up to the election.Like everything else from the Cons - it was just one more lie. They want to control everything and tell the world and us how it should all be run their way.Health workers etc and the likes seem to be a thing of the past - cost to much money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 351.

    It goes without saying that this is a nanny state policy, but I say SO WHAT! Why does it automatically have to be a bad thing! I'd much rathet my tax money was spent on this (and other preventative measures) than our open ended benefits.

    Face it some people need a good nannying and it will work out cheaper for all of us

  • 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 349.

    @344 - when did we get '13 years of socialists'?

    We haven't had a socialist government in this country for decades. And we've never had one in power for 13 years.

  • rate this

    Comment number 348.

    I would feel patronised to be lectured on parenting by a person who knew nothing of me or my family. Its not just about riot control. The moral values our children acquire reflect our own attitudes and morality. The anti-traditional-family culture in the UK means children are seen as possessions not part of a stable social unit where thay learn to be responsible to others as well being protected

  • rate this

    Comment number 347.

    We all talk about mother's but what about father's who can struggle to care for their child whilst the mother is working. I'm a father who works part time and cares for our child. This support would have been helpful to me near mind the mother. I think a lot of the time the father gets left out.

  • rate this

    Comment number 346.

    I know the past is a wonderful place, but when I had my children 30 years ago there was this wonderful group of people called Health Visitors - I would not have survived without them as family all lived away. These have steadily been removed. A simple solution.

  • rate this

    Comment number 345.

    of course its nanny state
    but the tories secretely like the idea of a nanny state
    it reminds them of their childhood

  • rate this

    Comment number 344.

    Great fleets of prams parked outside a well know purveyor of pies & pasties.
    Foul mouthed mothers scream abuse at the kids..Blackberrys & Fag in hand.
    as they shove another sausage roll into the infants mouth.
    The topic of conversation Jezza. X Factor, Benefits more kids and better & bigger flat.
    Thanks 13 years of Socialists.

  • rate this

    Comment number 343.

    Surely these classes / lessons should given before breeders bring in more hoddies into the slums. No point in handing out taxpayer funded Boots vouchers for the breeders to spend on themselves after they find out they don't like the work involved in dragging up Chardoney or Tyrone.


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