Schools and mental health take centre stage, but the crisis facing children’s social care still isn’t registering on the political radar.
All three main parties promise better support for children with mental health needs, with a clear link to schools.
- The Conservatives will publish a Green Paper this year; children will learn about mental health in the classroom; teachers in every school will received Mental Health First Aid; and there will be a “single point of contact” with specialist mental health services.
- Labour and the Liberal Democrats promise better access to counselling in schools.
- The Liberal Democrats promise to place a statutory duty on schools to promote wellbeing.
- All three promise to end out of area mental health placements.
Each of the main parties takes a different approach to the education system.
- The Conservatives promise no school will have its budget cut, with £4bn extra funding overall by 2022. Labour promise a ‘fairer’ funding formula and the Liberal Democrats would invest an additional £7 billion.
- The Conservatives will reverse the ban on selective schools (opposed by Labour and the Liberal Democrats) and build 100 new free schools a year.
- The Conservatives would end universal free schools lunches for infants in favour of free breakfasts for all primary-aged children. Labour and the Lib Dems would extend free lunches to all primary-aged children.
- Labour promises a wider range of courses, the Conservatives offer an ‘academic, knowledge rich’ curriculum.
The major parties have promised more support for early years.
- The Conservatives promise ‘thousands’ of new nursery places and to extend the 15 hours of free child care to all three and four year olds with working parents.
- Labour would extend this entitlement to all two year olds (and some one year olds) and improve access for parents regardless of their working pattern.
- The Liberal Democrats would triple the early years pupil premium to £1000, and extend the 15 hours to all two year olds and to working parents with younger children.
Social care and child protection
All the manifestos touch on children’s social care but none addresses the fundamental funding crisis threatening the system.
- The Conservatives would end the unnecessary relocation of vulnerable children far from home and review support for Children in Need to understand more about why their outcomes are so poor.
- Labour and the Liberal Democrats promise professional development for social workers.
- Labour would refocus social care on supporting families in their communities to prevent children becoming at risk of going into care; end cuts to youth services; protect Sure Start; and increase regulation of commercial fostering agencies.
- The Conservatives would create a new aggravated offence of Domestic Abuse for behaviour directed at a child.
- The Conservatives would retain the Human Rights Act until we leave the EU, and the UK would also remain a signatory to the ECHR.
- The Liberal Democrats would enshrine the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into UK law, and would reopen the Dubs scheme, accepting 3,000 unaccompanied refugee children.
- The Conservatives say they want to reduce levels of child poverty.
- Labour commits to tackling child poverty with a new Child Poverty Strategy.
- The Liberal Democrats promise to reinstate the legally binding poverty targets of the Child Poverty Act.
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