School closures and lockdown restrictions have disproportionately burdened harms onto children and young people. As a society, they must now be made our priority. This can only be done if their voices and those voices advocating for children are better represented and protected in policy making. Reform of our legislative and constitutional ecosystem insofar as it relates to children is essential.
Children’s wellbeing and happiness should be a core metric by which we should judge ‘success’ in policy making. We should focus more on prevention than cure. To this end sport and extracurricular activities which are so transformational for children must be placed at the very heart of children’s lives and we must embrace a national effort to reeducate children about healthy nutrition and to give them the skills they need for a lifetime of healthy eating.
Our most disadvantaged children were disproportionately affected by school closures and lockdown policies. Vulnerable children and in particular disabled children and SEN children have too often been denied access to the care and education they need. A society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable members and we must aspire for better.
The first 5 years of a child’s life are crucial for development and for long-term wellbeing and prosperity: proper funding of an early years sector with stronger community-based support systems and a better trained, professionalised workforce would reap huge cost savings throughout the life of a child. Both parents must be given an equal opportunity to be involved in a child’s life from birth and families must be supported in making the choice that is right for them through fair taxation and policies which protect each parent’s employment rights – equitably.
All education from cradle to career should be delivered face to face, and provided on a non-discriminatory basis, free from disproportionate measures and protected from disruption. All restrictions which prevent healthy children and students from entering their place of learning must end. School closures should never again be countenanced.
There is no more important an investment than children’s education and a commitment must now be made for a secure and long term funding approach with appropriate investment, creativity and hope to take our early years children into their adult lives.
Children have a key role to play in determining the future they will inhabit. They must be taught how to think, engage, speak out and be heard – rather than simply what to think.
Policy making should look to sustainability as well as economic growth; should protect rather than erode the interests of future generations and must respect and protect freedom and the rights and welfare of non-voting children as much as voting adults.