Manifesto for a Better Childhood

The Partnership helped to shape NCB's Manifesto for a Better Childhood, developed with children and young people and setting out a positive vision for improving young lives.

Develop a Childhood Strategy

We believe the Government must develop a coherent Childhood Strategy built on the principle that children and young people themselves must have a say in the political process.

This cross-government Strategy must establish a new vision for childhood and establish a set of binding outcomes that all government departments are accountable for delivering. Accountability for delivery of the strategy must be held by a Cabinet Committee - a group of ministers that can take collective decisions that are binding across government.

The Strategy must be backed by £10 billion of new money at the next Spending Review, to reverse the impact of a decade of cuts and reinvest in services for children and young people.

Developed in partnership with children, young people and families, the Strategy should include a set of national priorities for children and young people.

All government departments must be accountable for work to:

  • Stop children and young people growing up in poverty
  • Improve outcomes in early childhood
  • Create an inclusive education system
  • Promote and protect our children’s wellbeing and mental health

Bethan introduces NCB's Manifesto

Deliver an inclusive education system

Our country will only succeed if all our children succeed. Yet our education system is becoming less and less inclusive of children who have more difficult lives.

Permanent exclusions are rising, more children with SEND than ever are in special schools and pupil referral units, and an increasing number of parents are feeling forced into home education.

It is time for us to re-affirm the values of our education system. We need a clear, inclusive vision of education that values the progress of all children, that celebrates their talents, and that champions individuality and difference.

Our call to Government:

  • Set a timeframe for stabilising and then reducing the number of permanent exclusions; remove the incentives in the system to exclude children and young people.
  • Give the wellbeing of children and young people equal weight to academic progress; ensure every setting puts the wellbeing and mental health of its children and young people at the heart of everything they do.
  • Ensure age appropriate, inclusive relationships, sex and health education is available to all children and young people.

Improve outcomes in early childhood

Every child deserves the best start in life. What happens during pregnancy and in the early years shapes children’s physical health, their language and communication, and their emotional wellbeing. Failing children at this stage of their lives has devastating consequences.

Improving outcomes during pregnancy and in the early years is the smartest investment we can make as a society. Yet time and time again we have failed to deliver what evidence tells us is needed: high-quality early years services, equally accessible to all families. 

Our call to Government:

  • Commit to a children’s centre in every neighbourhood, with high quality services for all families from conception to age five.
  • Offer parenting support to all parents who want it, focused on the importance of strong relationships and attachment.
  • Develop a graduate-led workforce to raise the quality of early education and childcare.
  • Invest in a world-class health visiting service for new parents, so all families can build a trusting relationship with their health visitor.

Promote and protect our children’s wellbeing and mental health

Growing up in the 21st century provides fantastic opportunities for children and young people, but it also creates huge pressure. From social media to climate change, from serious youth violence to Brexit, children and young people have never been more exposed to change and uncertainty. Protecting their wellbeing and mental health must be a top priority.

From conception, parents must be supported to help them understand, promote and protect their child’s mental health. All children must be supported and provided with an education that enables them to look after their own mental health and navigate potential challenges such as bullying and other adversities.

Our call to Government:

  • Place a duty on all social media and digital platforms to follow child safety rules and protect children from online harm
  • Develop a workforce plan that ensures all professionals working with children and young people are trained in the importance of secure attachment, strong relationships and emotional intelligence.
  • Ensure every child and young person that needs it has access to specialist mental health support, e.g. parent-infant relationship services, CAMHS etc.

Put children’s voices at the heart of the political process

Children and young people will be those most affected by decisions made today, yet they are often denied a voice in both local and national politics.

Children and young people are passionate about the issues facing the country: climate change, serious violence, and mental health. They have a right to have their say and to be listened to.

The next Government must renew our democratic offer and provide meaningful opportunities for all children and young people to get involved:

  • Lower the voting age to 16, and support children and young people to campaign and participate in the democratic process.
  • Give children and young people a say in all local decisions that affect them, including everything from how recreational spaces are designed to what services are offered by the NHS.
  • Re-invest in youth centres and services, putting this vital resource back at the heart of local communities.

Stop children and young people growing up in poverty

We all share a moral obligation to end child poverty. It destroys childhoods and causes irreparable damage to our society’s future health and productivity. So many of society’s problems flow from this.

There are over 4 million children who are living in poverty right now and, unless we change things there will be more than 5 million by 2022. We cannot accept this.

Growing up in poverty means not being able to afford the basics like food, clothes and rent. It means children are more likely to have a range of health problems, to be excluded from school, or taken into care. And most tragically, poorer children are more likely to die before their 18th birthday.

Our call to Government:

  • Make work pay for families with better support for childcare costs.
  • End the unjust two-child limit on benefits and reform Universal Credit.
  • Reverse the cuts and re-invest in children’s services that provide help to the most vulnerable children and young people.

Resources for download