4 July 2017
Commenting on the analysis revealing millions of children in England living vulnerable or high risk lives, Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“The Children’s Commissioner’s report makes grim reading and is a crushing indictment of modern-day Britain. Despite being the fifth richest economy in the world, the fact that so many children are living in precarious and unsafe circumstances points to a Government that has lost its grip on its key role – to keep all citizens – but especially the most vulnerable – safe and secure.
“The last decade has witnessed deregulation and cost cutting on a grand scale. Services previously provided by local authorities have been axed or severely hampered by a lack of funding. Social services are running on a shoestring, child mental health services are hanging on by a thread and youth services that previously provided support directly to young people themselves, no longer exist or are greatly reduced. Teachers are having to pick up the pieces as children present at school with a multiplicity of complex problems and needs that schools cannot always address in the absence of specialist support services.
“There is no possible justification for children in Britain today having to live in insecure or unstable housing. It is a product of the Government’s refusal to build and invest in social housing, their failure to regulate the private rented sector and their insistence on benefit cuts that are forcing families out of their homes.
“The Government is obsessed with league tables and test and examination targets for schools when it should be focused on ensuring that a range of support services are in place to support the broad and holistic needs of children today. As Children’s Commissioner Anne Longfield notes: “We can trace in minute detail the academic progress of a child from 4 to 18 and beyond, but when it comes to describing and assessing the scale of negative factors in a child’s life which will hamper their progress, we are floundering.
“The Government must take note and commence concrete and serious action to address the many failings of Government policy towards children, young people and their families that this report so vividly highlights. “