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Where New Zealand families are heading? Babies to have state approved “performance targets”(UK).

Posted by watchingcyfswatchnewzealand on March 18, 2007

Source: Daily Mail 15/3/07:

As posted on CYFSWATCH NZ

Where New Zealand families are heading? Babies to have state approved “performance targets”(UK).
Sunday, 18.03.2007, 07:25pm (GMT12)

March 15, 2007

Britain’s ga-ga government

Daily Mail, 15 March 2007

Your first reaction is to check the date. Surely, you think, it must be a spoof. Surely they cannot be serious.

But no, it’s not April Fools’ Day, and it’s not a spoof. Incredible as it may seem, the Government is proposing with an entirely straight face, to give babies marks for crying, gurgling or babbling, under a new curriculum for infants aged from birth to five years old, which all nurseries will have to follow.

Playgroups and child minders will have to show that they are helping babies make progress in no fewer than 69 areas of education and development, or else risk losing their funding.

No sooner will an infant exit from its mothers womb, it seems, than the state will start expecting it to hit performance targets. As one might expect from such a barmy idea, these targets are suitably surreal.

Between birth and 11 months, babies will have to show they gain ˜physical, psychological and emotional comfort” from snuggling, can cry, gurgle, babble or squeal to official requirements, and exhibit an approved level of enthusiasm for their fingers and toes.

And toddlers, would you believe, will have to demonstrate they can run a rusk around their feeding tray to prove that they are interested in making marks.

No doubt if an infant smears banana custard in its hair, it will be deemed to be exceptionally gifted and moved to a superior class of high chair.

Oh and the Ofsted inspectors will be along to make sure that nurseries and child minders have managed to tick their charges achievements in all the appropriate boxes.

Is this really what this country has come to, that the full weight of our state bureaucracy is to be directed into checking whether cooing and gurgling levels are high enough, or whether a baby has an attitude problem towards the exploration of its toes?

And what will happen if a baby is not meeting these preposterous targets? Will it be put on special measures by OfCot, and given remedial education in rusk maneuvers or rattle technique?

This surely is the Nanny State gone stark staring mad.

It’s bad enough that school age children are now subjected to the stultifying official mentality of targets and box-ticking. Extending this to babies is not only absurd, but will put everyone who cares for babies and young children, from nurseries and child-minders to parents, under stress.

For babyhood will be turned into a source of pressure simply to meet targets which may be wildly inappropriate, since young children develop in different ways and at very different rates.

The result will cause wholly unnecessary alarm, turn acts of simple caring and nurturing into a kind of permanent competition and trigger fresh waves of intervention by experts on behalf of the state. And in any event, as any parent of young children knows, the legions of so-called experts on childhood tend to offer diametrically opposite views about the correct way to bring up a child.

The idea that the Government should impose any one view as an unchallengeable standard by which all childrearing is to be judged is an intolerable assault not only on the freedom to differ on such private matters but on basic common sense.

It derives from an official mindset which seeks to control more and more human activity by corralling it into a set of boxes to be ticked and which can be policed by an army of bureaucrats.

However, when it comes to education, it is an approach that has conspicuously failed. The more curriculum control and monitoring by education inspectors that there has been, the more standards have declined.

So at very same time that we are producing legions of illiterate and inarticulate school leavers who know less and less and can barely think straight any more, the state is to extend its meddling to babies and toddlers.

In fact, this extension of curriculum-itis to nursery schools, reflects the Governments panic over the collapse of educational standards. Ministers reckon that if children’s disadvantages can be remedied early enough, before they get to primary school, then later educational problems will disappear.

This is utterly misguided. The problem with our education system is not that some children are born into disadvantage: that has always been the case. It is rather that we have destroyed the educational excellence which once lifted children out of such disadvantage.

But the babyhood curriculum is not merely absurd and misguided. It is also sinister. For through it, the Government seeks to control an area that should be none of its business.

The aim is to inculcate very young children with politically approved attitudes  so they will show they know the difference between right and wrong and understand that people have different needs, views, cultures and beliefs. This is because, would you believe, by the age of three years and four months, children are to begin citizenship lessons.

Let us pinch ourselves. This is a country which has all but destroyed the essence of true citizenship, the sense of obligation to this country that derives from a knowledge and respect for its institutions and its values.

Instead, it has turned citizenship into a programme to remake not just national identity but to create a new type of human being from whom all politically incorrect views have been removed. And now this programme of indoctrination is to begin when the citizen has not yet even blown out the candles on its fourth birthday cake.

Whatever happened to childhood?

It is not that all these requirements laid out in this curriculum are necessarily wrong. On the contrary, many are simply re- statements of the normal milestones of children’s healthy development. What is wrong and alarming is that the State should be imposing them upon children.

It is the deeply disturbing idea of an all-seeing, beneficent state that knows better than parents how a child should develop and even what attitudes it should have, and which therefore seeks to infiltrate itself into every area of children’s lives so they become effectively programmed to turn out as little clones of what the state expects them to be.

It is the ultimate Nanny State. And it is all about changing both society and human nature itself. That’s why the Government has what it calls an over-arching strategy for all children and young people from conception to age 19, which it has called a new frontier for the welfare state and education system.

That’s why the Sure Start project for under-fives gives state employees unprecedented leverage to influence the way children are brought up and ensure that parents conform to state notions of what is acceptable.

The message this gives is that the care of children is a collective activity to be supervised and run by the state, which knows how to bring up children better than their own mothers who should be sent out to work instead.

It is, in short, the nationalization of childhood and the babyhood curriculum is but its latest and most ludicrous extension. Our government has clearly gone ga-ga.


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