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Have we finally discovered how to bring up children?

20 January 2011

Yesterday saw the publication of a report by Labour MP Graham Allen calling for more early intervention by the state in the childhood of deprived children. That Mr Allen should have reached this conclusion in his report comes as no surprise. This is an issue he has championed for years. Presumably the Government agrees, because it asked him to produce this report.

More interesting than the “what” question is the “how” question, particularly with budgets so tight. Graham Allen’s recommendations include regular assessments of all pre-school children, a national parenting programme in the UK, and an independent early intervention foundation to drive early intervention forward, assess policies and attract investment from the private and voluntary sectors.

The true test of these initiatives will be the extent they improve the daily lives of individual children. Every child, and every child’s circumstances, are different. National policies and programmes usually fail to penetrate that far. This is why improving the life chances of deprived children has proved so difficult. But we must continue to try.

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