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 582.

    perhaps we should take this money and give every child boy and girl one of those dolls that cry constantly day and night for feeding and changing they can then earn credits to keep the doll quiet by attending school (like wages) who would award the credits to those who behaved and tried to learn. if the doll was crying all night parents would know the child had not been at school

  • rate this

    Comment number 581.

    Im appalled but not surprised that there are so many comments about the governmnt giving them much more monetry support. Why should tax payers pay for so many children when we are so over populted already. We only had 2 as that is how many we could afford & give our full attention. I only did a part time job once they were at school. We had very little money so went without hols. Its about choice

  • rate this

    Comment number 580.

    I'm not sure I'd want my future child's first phrase to be 'public servants are scum'. Shame Cameron's parents weren't good enough to stop him joining the Bullingdon Club, the country might be a better place if they were

  • rate this

    Comment number 579.

    This is all as a result of women in the workplace.Women seem ashamed to express their caring side in rearing their children and simply abandon their kids altogether in order to pay the bills. If women can't afford to have children then they should not have them. Everyone agrees that the mother-child bond is the most powerful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 578.

    @573. Beverly91945: You asked for "licenses to have children". Would you have to renew your licence? Would there be Blairite metrics to determine your qualification? Would you propose compulsory abortion/adoption for people who fail your test? What political/economic position would you say parents should be required to have (implicit or explicit) in order to be able to have children?

  • rate this

    Comment number 577.

    I volunteered for a charity that supported families with young children where the parents were struggling to cope, for whatever reason.

    The biggest problem for many of those families was a lack of parenting skills. Children brought up under such circumstances were almost bound to cause problems for the rest of society.

    DC is not creating a nanny state, but facing up to reality.

  • rate this

    Comment number 576.

    @561 'Feedback'
    I have listed all your issues:
    a) parents aren't able to communicate with their kids
    b) parents who shy away or not care about it
    c) women (that you know) who have split up with father
    d) kids are growing up without a father they they can look up to.

    You mention 'father' twice as though they are paragons of virtue? I suggest that many mothers can be looked up to equally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 575.

    Stop children having children then we wouldn't need to teach anyone.Driving a car isn't the same as having sex in a car.

  • rate this

    Comment number 574.

    Strange, my wife and I managed to bring up children without ANY help/hindrance from State or `Crats!
    Too many women want to evade personal responsibility for everything, then get support from anti male pressure groups.
    If you can remember grandma, who had the ability to stop conversation with a "look", no need for rules/regulation then, just respect. Perhaps we could revert to that for solution?

  • rate this

    Comment number 573.

    1st: people should have to obtain licenses to have children. This is a serious job you will be taking on for at least 18 years and you can seriously mess them up leading to a damage person.

  • rate this

    Comment number 572.

    As a teacher I have benefited enormously from behaviour management classes and have seen first hand the problems when children are not given appropriate boundaries at home. The classes should start at the "terrible" twos when children start to push the boundaries and should be compulsory. Otherwise the parents who need to attend most of all simply won't attend.

  • rate this

    Comment number 571.

    Dores anyone one know what the £100 vouchers represent ie is it 10 classes at £10 each or a one-off all day class 10-2?

  • rate this

    Comment number 570.

    A good idea, although it should be mandatory for some and probably be available for those yet to become parents.

    I'm sick of having unruly brats about the place, disrupting everyday activities like shopping and going to the cinema. That's the most immediate impact of poor parenting but the long term implications are horrific.

  • rate this

    Comment number 569.

    though not a tory voter i agree with the current PM on this issue.
    i have witnessed bad parenting and i'm glad someone is doing something positive to help. thank you to all concerned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 568.

    The UK is not a Nanny state, but is fast becoming a "Nancie" State" . If they cannot parent their children, they should go back to work, while special carers look after their children. Like in an Isralie Zionist Kibbutz. MR.TRUCULENT admires the Kibbutz system very highly.

  • rate this

    Comment number 567.

    Given that the UK has the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in Europe I don't think this is such a bad idea. Arguments that the government is trying to 'control' us through parenting classes are just plain stupid. I think the only concern is whether the money could be spent elsewhere.

  • Comment number 566.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 565.

    While Obama and Hollande focus on growth.......we get DC and the Etonian Bullingdon boys, with floppy fringes galore telling us all to stock up on fire hazards and creating economic disaster..

  • rate this

    Comment number 564.

    Parent classes DEFINITELY nanny sate.
    Conservatives slammed Labour for nannying, now they emulate them!

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    @504. Assynt:

    I think your views on the political spectrum are very out of touch with reality.

    You can't form opinions on people simply because of their political beliefs.

    I consider my views to be broadly right of centre, but I do voluntary work and show a lot of concern for my fellow man. They don't call it compassionate conservatism for nothing.


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