The Government should finally make ‘left behind’ children its priority
Boris Johnson has established three new cabinet committees on Brexit, and one on the whole of the domestic policy agenda. This is a clear indication of the dominance of this one issue for our new Prime Minister.
During the leadership election I gave a speech to launch our 3rd Childhood Vulnerability Report where I highlighted that neither candidate had spoken very much about children except in reference to schools. The Education Policy Institute this week found that the gap in GCSE attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has stopped closing. By the time they leave secondary school, disadvantaged pupils are now over a year and a half behind. The most disadvantaged pupils are now almost two years behind their classmates.
The Department of Education’s own Children in Need review shows there are 1.6m children in England – one in ten – who have needed a social worker in the past six years. Four fifths will not get GCSE English and Maths, which will seriously limit their chances of getting on in life. The Department was right to undertake this analysis. We now need to see what action they will take.
My office has undertaken its own analysis of childhood vulnerability. There are 2.3 million children in England from a vulnerable family background, that’s 6 children in the average classroom.
We have identified 1.6 million children from a vulnerable family background for whom state support is either patchy or non-existent.
All children at risk due to family circumstances: 2.3 million
Many of these children will end up in crisis – in care, in mental health or young offender institutions, in pupil referral units and street gangs. We know how to help these children, but at present the state is not stepping in until they hit crisis point – or hit the headlines. Our research has found that 7% of funding is going on 0.1% of children, in the most expensive settings. The human, social and financial cost of our inaction is immense.
Percentage of children accessing services
I think there should be just one more cross-government cabinet committee: a committee for children. This Government and those who wish to take its place if there is a general election should finally make children a priority. I have been clear that tackling these complex and generational problems will not be cheap. That is why I think it will cost £10 billion commitment to fix the safety net for these children. This is not unrealistic. The Prime Minister has made tax cut pledges of the same magnitude. The Labour Party has made many similar spending commitments, like scrapping tuition fees.
The LGA has already said £3.1bn is needed just for children’s social care to stand still, plus £1.6bn needed for special educational needs support. This is what I call filling the potholes in existing support, it is not expanding support to the millions of children who need help but don’t get it. But more of the same is not an option. We need to invest in early help so that fewer children end up in crisis in higher cost services. And we need to support children, their families and communities to give them the best chance in life – to be healthy and safe, to do well at school and to get a stable job when they reach adulthood.
The Prime Minister has rightly talked about levelling up per pupil funding in schools and levelling up across Britain. He is absolutely right to prioritise these things. We also need to level up the opportunities for these invisible children who are being left behind. Now Boris Johnson has the chance and the position to really address that need for those children. As Children’s Commissioner I will continue to speak up for vulnerable children and fight for their right to a happy, healthy and safe childhood. I hope Boris Johnson will join me.
Latest News from
Children’s manifesto calls on political parties to back six pledges to transform life chances for all kids10/09/2019 09:20:00
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, has published ‘Guess How Much We Love You: A Manifesto for Children’ ahead of any upcoming General Election.
Anne Longfield responds to Government Spending Review04/09/2019 16:15:00
Anne Longfield, Children’s Commissioner for England, responded to the Government’s Spending Review
Children’s experiences of online harm and what they want to do about it28/08/2019 09:20:00
In April this year the Government set out their plans for a world-first: a system of regulations that they argue will make the UK ‘the safest place in the world to be online’.
Thousands of children growing up in shipping containers, office blocks and B&Bs21/08/2019 12:15:00
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, has published new research which shines a light on the thousands of children growing up in homeless families.
Insights into the lives of children and young people20/08/2019 09:20:00
Shortly Children’s Commissioner are going to be publishing regular insights into the views and experiences of children in England. As a taster, this blog looks at 3 recent studies that provide interesting insights about the lives and views of children.
Explosion in number of older children going into care over last five years is hitting stability of the system01/08/2019 13:10:00
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, has published the Children’s Commissioner’s 2019 Stability Index, an annual measure of the stability of the lives of children in care in England.
Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield responds to Home Affairs Select Committee report on serious violence31/07/2019 15:10:00
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, has responded to the Home Affairs Select Committee on Serious Violence.
Anne Longfield responds to the Government’s announcement on knife crime15/07/2019 16:33:00
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England yesterday responded to the Government’s announcement on knife crime.
Multi-billion pound tax cut promises from Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt should instead go on mending broken childhoods04/07/2019 13:47:00
Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, will today (Thursday) launch her third annual Vulnerability Report with a call on the next Prime Minister to put the billions they have promised for income and corporation tax cuts towards mending broken childhoods.