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 442.

    They should devise a manual, then people can do it by numbers.
    They should have a Guru, a committee, an inquiry and then write it and send it by post to every household, then employ a team of special inspectors to do random spot checks to ensure that it is being followed.
    The end.

  • 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 440.

    From what I can see very few of the courses offer child care facilities while the parent/s attend them which will exclude quite a few from taking up the offer even if they wanted to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 439.

    I think that parenting classes is an excellent idea. How children are brought up has a huge impact on what type of adult they will be, how they will contribute to society and help us move forward. Inappropriate parenting leads to some of the major problems we see in society today, such as lack of acceptance of responsibility for yourself and others.

  • rate this

    Comment number 438.

    Bubonic - couldn't agree more! I have an 11-month-old and where I live we got five free classes for first-time parents and I thought they were brilliant. They covered the basics like safety and weaning and yes, i could learn it from books but the guidance changes very regularly so it's nice to know what you are doing is correct, plus I met some other nice mummies and babies!

  • rate this

    Comment number 437.

    when I was a kid my mother would not think twice about taking your trousers down and giving you a smack on the back side in the shop if you went on about wanting some thing once she had said no it showed the 6 of us that she was not going to stand for us not doing as we were told
    in our house it was never wait till your dad gets home it was wait till your mum gets home she also taught us to cook

  • rate this

    Comment number 436.

    Are there free lessons available for Ministers in the art of moral and ethical government?

  • rate this

    Comment number 435.

    There are many comments about how well x has managed, how x has raided y kids and their all fine and so are the kids they in turned raised, and in response to this I say you are out of touch.

    I was raised well, my partner was raised well, hopefully we will raise our children well, but it's a fallacy to pretend that there aren't many incredibly ignorant/ill equipped parents out there.

  • rate this

    Comment number 434.

    At a time of huge pressures on NHS, an out of control welfare state, water shortages and high unemployment is indirectly encouraging people to have more kids such a good idea? I think not. We need to bring population down not up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 433.

    I think this sounds like a fab idea!

    My parents live half way round the world, and knowing I could go somewhere and have someone physically show me how to breastfeed, give me advice, etc sounds brilliant. Yes it would be nice to have my parents here, but someone with the same experience and knowledge who could demonstrate things would be a great help and comfort.

  • rate this

    Comment number 432.

    The best way to promote family values would be to return to an environment where a child could be brought up in a family: at least two adults, of which at least one adult always is available rather than both having to go to work to make ends meet.

    Women's liberation[tm] started off with the good intention of giving women a choice. It's ended up with neither women nor men having a choice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 431.

    Each child is different and whatever is taught in these classes will not be suitable for each child. I have 4 happy and healthy children and they have different respond to in terms of discipline. If people need help, then they should ask and the support provided can then be tailored to the child's needs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 430.

    Also I think it's time for another article extolling the virtues of parents being married before they bring children into the world. Surely this should be obvious and yet it's not! Were our ancestors so unsophisticated when they chose to be married before even engaging in sexual activity or did this conscious choice lay the foundation for strong marriages and families. Surely the answer is obvious

  • rate this

    Comment number 429.

    "keep breeding and you'll get more and more benefits".
    -You of course accept the standard Daily Mail drivel that it is only those on benefits that have large families.

    A little reality check the percentage of ALL families with more than 3 children is 3% of the total .The percentage of families on benefits with more than 3 children is yes you guest it 3% !

  • rate this

    Comment number 428.

    401.One in a million

    Well you can.. There are huge numbers already doing this under the title Benefit Recipients.. I guess what you are saying by Govt is you want me to pay for you to sit at home with the kids.
    How about your choice & Pleasure getting them so you should pay not me ? Sound remotely fair that I should not pay for your progeny ?? No thought not..

  • rate this

    Comment number 427.

    Why feel guilty about assisting others, it's probably a liddem contribution but surely education is a good thing?

    What is this 'Nanny State' propaganda anyway? Maybe if we had more of a Nanny State the NHS would not be about to become privatised.

  • rate this

    Comment number 426.

    @418. Mike Solomons: your exam suggestion is right on the money!! Get down to Tory HQ, make a Premier League donation and have yourself a policy discussion with the PM.

  • rate this

    Comment number 425.

    Not really the Big Society is it, Dave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 424.


    Re my statement.

    An innuendo is a two edged wording.
    Similarly you took the wrong CONTEXT of my comment.

    If the BBC allowed sufficient wording space (increase the number of letters {words} allowed) perhaps I could have made it plainer and more simpler for you to understand.

    I can not apologise for your inability to conceive what I was trying to convey.

  • rate this

    Comment number 423.

    How can these classes be free? Someone must be paying for them, surely.


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