Tag Archives: baroness walmsley

Joan Walmsley: Disadvantaged children should be prioritised in the Early Years (via Lib Dem Voice)

Baroness Walmsley
Baroness Walmsley

Liberal Democrats have done a great deal in Government to provide more and better early education and childcare. From increasing the free entitlement for three and four year olds and extending it to disadvantaged two year olds to introducing the Early Years Pupil Premium and helping parents with the costs through tax relief, this government has been on the side of young children and their families.

Two things have happened relating to childcare in the last two weeks. Nick Clegg has made some commitments about what Liberal Democrats would fight for in the next Parliament and the House of Lords Select Committee on Affordable Childcare has produced its report following many months of hearing evidence. Members may be interested as to how these two things fit together.

Baroness Claire Tyler and myself, who were both responsible for the “Balanced Working Life” policy paper and conference motion which set out Lib Dem proposals in this area, were also both on the Select Committee (The only 2 Lib Dems members out of a total 13 which I think underlines the fact that we did well to get as much of our policy in as we did).  We worked hard to get the committee to agree to evidence based recommendations which we knew to be compatible with Liberal Democrat policy, though, of course, it was a cross party committee. Although the resulting report was by no means a Liberal Democrat Manifesto, it had several features in common with our policies, Nick’s recent speeches and what we hope to see in our manifesto.

The Committee’s main recommendation was that, in setting priorities within the early years budget, the government should focus on providing high quality childcare for the most disadvantaged children because it is they who will benefit most from it and therefore it is good value for money.

The full article is here

Joan Walmsley: Children have a right to be believed about abuse and deserve action, not cover-up (via The Observer)

Baroness Walmsley
Baroness Walmsley

Every time a new child abuse scandal is revealed by the media there are calls for more training and more communication, but never more prevention. I believe that even the most determined paedophile will be greatly deterred if he knows that his colleagues are alert and, where they suspect child abuse, will do something about it. That’s why we need a legal duty on those working with children to report known or suspected child abuse to the authorities.

For years there has been a professional duty to act, but no sanctions for failure if people chose to turn a blind eye to even the most obvious signs of harm or distress or kept silent when they noticed a dubious attitude to children on the part of a colleague.

People have worried that they would lose their job if they reported what they knew, possibly damaging the reputation of their organisation. For that reason they have said nothing. It’s time we protected well-meaning members of the children’s workforce and empowered them, even obliged them, to report what they know or suspect to the authorities.

Full letter here

Joan Walmsley: The NSPCC does not go far enough (via Lib Dem Voice)

Baroness Walmsley
Baroness Walmsley

This morning the BBC had an exclusive story from the NSPCC. They have at long last shifted their position on making it a crime to cover up child abuse and have come out with a very half-hearted and confusing policy. I call it “safeguarding light.” Instead of making it the duty of everybody with the care of children in a regulated institution (like a school) to report to the Local Authority any child abuse or serious suspicion of child abuse, as I am advocating, they are saying that the duty should be on only those “closed” institutions where children are away from home, such as children’s homes, hospitals or prisons and only where there is “known” child abuse.

I was lined up to go into the studio to expose this for the poor apology for policy that it is but was cancelled at the last minute “because we’ve run out of time because of the football result last night”. However, in the prime spot at 8.10 there was a long discussion between Alan Wardle of the NSPCC and a chap called Alan Wood, president of the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, who felt that everything is OK now and we don’t need to do anything. So by removing me from the discussion the BBC shifted the debate from “Is this enough?” to “Should we be doing anything at all?”

Full story here


Joan Walmsley: Savile must never happen again and it is up to all of us to ensure that

Baroness Walmsley
Baroness Walmsley

Yesterday the Lampard Report into Jimmy Savile’s appalling activities within the NHS is published, the facts are laid bare about how we have let down victims of abuse over the years. Savile is, of course, not the only perpetrator, just the most high profile one and the one that was more clever than most at hiding his activities in full view.

The most shocking thing about yesterday’s revelations is that many of his victims actually told somebody at the time about what he had done, though many others were not confident that they would be believed so kept quiet for years. There is no such thing as “historic child abuse”. It has an effect on the victim right through life, often interfering with all their future relationships and even producing serious mental health problems. So we owe it to victims to respond to their difficult revelations and we owe it to potential future victims to change our culture of silence about these things.

Telling the correct authorities about abuse, or reasonable suspicion of abuse, is not “telling tales”. It is a public duty and I believe the law should say so. That is why I am calling for “mandatory reporting”. That is a new offence of failing to report what they know for those in caring positions in what we call “regulated activity”, schools, hospitals, care homes, the police, etc. There have been far too many cases of people keeping quiet about serious abuse because they fear for their jobs or they fear reputational damage for their school, care home or other institution. That means that the victims go untreated, perpetrators carry on doing it and abuse other people and the whole horrible cycle continues.

In Australia they have introduced mandatory reporting to considerable success. Of course, like the Australians, we would need to protect confidential helplines such as Childline. Children need to be able to speak to them in confidence. But when Childine advisers urge the child to confide in a trusted adult, the child must have confidence that the adult will do something about it to bring an end to the abuse. Many young victims find it very difficult to give clear and consistent evidence in court. That is why we need the corroboration of a responsible adult to help us bring perpetrators to justice. Unless we encourage and support people who come forward to defend young victims by giving them the protection of the law, we will continue to have these things swept under the carpet and hundreds of victims will not receive the justice they deserve.

Baroness Walmsley: We need to invest in children’s early years

Today in the Lords Baroness Joan Walmsley will lead a debate on promoting early childhood development in the post-2015 development framework. It is vital, she says, to assist children’s development in their first few years

Baroness Walmsley
Baroness Walmsley

In 2015 the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) come to an end. As part of the process of deciding what is to replace them, our Prime Minister has been appointed to be one of three co-chairs of a High Level Panel of eminent people set up by the UN. I want to use the opportunity of my debate today to encourage him to press for an integrated Early Childhood Development target to be part of the 2015 goals.

It is very rare that large numbers of researchers from many disciplines agree with each other and all come to the same conclusion. However, that is happening now. Neuroscientists, social scientists and economists all agree that we will only achieve the MDGs and the subsequent 2015 goals if we include a specific actionable and measurable goal to reduce by half the number of children under the age of five who fail to reach their potential.

The MDGs have succeeded in getting more children onto the rolls of primary schools worldwide but how well do they learn when they get there? Evidence shows that it is poor rural families with young children who have benefited least from the MDGs. If we work with children before they go to primary school they will be better equipped to benefit from their primary and subsequent education. That is why investment in the early years is such a smart investment.

Children learn faster in their first few years than they will at any other time in their lives. Why therefore do we not put MORE effort into assisting their healthy development at that time than we do when they are older?

Published and promoted by Tim Gordon on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, both at LDHQ, 8-10 Great George Street, London, SW1P 3AE.