As a parliamentary candidate, you receive many request to make pledges, endorse the stances, of voluntary and lobbying organisations.
Some excellent children’s/young people’s issues that I’ve heard about thus far that I’m happy to support:
* The National Union of Teachers and the Universities and College Union is calling for candidates to “stand up for education”, and I’ve signed on all six points.
I’m particularly taken by its schools pledge rejecting SATs. I think “teaching to the test” is causing enormous problems — and an awful lot of boredom. As someone who had a burning desire to learn in my early teens, which was gradually turned into an ability to do well in tests and exams by clever techniques without learning much at all, this strikes home to me.
* Action for Children is calling for support for early intervention to help children trapped in what they call as a cycle of deprivation. Happy to do so.
* The National Society for the Protection of Children is campaigning for child protection to be a top priority.
* I also back the Children’s Rights Alliance campaign to have UN Convention on the Rights of the Child incorporated into UK law. Particularly notable is the fact that the UK has the second worst infant mortality rate of the 24 wealthiest countries in the world – too many children are being denied the most basic right of all.
* I also support the British Youth Council election manifesto. Its focus on addressing poverty and provision of youth mental health services is particularly admirable, and its call for the ovting age to be lowered to 16 has long been Green Party policy.
* On related issues, both nationally and internationally, I also back the Save the Children UK Poverty Kills Childhood campaign. It’s call for a “Robin Hood tax” is particularly appealing as a small step towards global justice. And the Unicef Put It Right campaign, focusing on global issues of water and sanitation.
Around about a decade ago I was working in Thailand on child labour issues, and when I read about these campaigns they take my memories back to children I met then. Many of them, I hope, will have made it through the hazards of an impoverished childhood, but I am sure that some of them won’t have.
I’ve already signed up to the National Union of Students fees pledge.