by Jan Cosgrove, National Secretary
Looking back at previous Manifestos produced by Fair Play for Children and others re Children's Play is the one thing they have in common ..... very little has progressed over more than a decade.
Whilst we appreciate that other organisations may call at this time for e.g. new legislation, Fair Play will concentrate on one key area in the December 2019 General Election. That is, for a new Government to review and overhaul the implementation of current national legislation which impacts children's play and youth work.
To do this, Fair Play proposes that those two areas are, in fact, parts of a continuum of provision covered by Article 31 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (known as The Child's Right to Play). We also point back to the previous Declaration on the Rights of the Child on which the Convention was built in particular that Play and Education are linked.
Fair Play has set out its understanding of the current UK legislation as set out in The Education Act 1996 as amended by the Education & Training Act 2006:
In recent months, we have also been engaged in the Government (DDCMS) Review of Statutory Youth Activities - this Guidance, relating to the above legislation, was formulated in 2012 and, in our view, lacks teeth The onus in the Act is upon Local Education Authorities and there are clear statutory obligations which have been ignored in large measure, not only due to Austerity though that has seen a massive loss of local provision, much of t without the consultation specified in the Act re young people. Fair Play's submission:
Our approach is also rooted in the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, where Rights are interdependent and inter-locking - the Right to Play is not isolated, a fact we feel many in our own field forget are their peril. The Convention Article 31 is also now underpinned by the quasi-legal interpretation of General Comment No 17 of the General Assembly of the UN:
Because there is this existing legislation and guidance, Fair Play for Children is not advocating new primary legislation at this juncture, because of the existence of current legislation and guidance. We advocate revision and amendment, the latter in termsof secondary legislation which would be possible in a much shorter space attached to other legislation: e.g. Education, Child Welfare, Culture/Recreation/Leisure etc. Primary legislation will take much longer and unless it will achieve a great deal more for the under18s, we see no benefit in that tack.
These are the main points of our Manifesto:
- There should be an early attention paid to the failure of implementation of the 1996 Act, sections 208, and 207a and b (the latter two respectively under-13 and 13+).
- Amendment of sub clauses which undermine the statutory duties (phrases such as 'if possible' et al) should be considered through secondary legislation
- The new Government should repeat the answer given to Fair Play for Children in a Freedom of Information Requestr, that provision under this Legislation is statutory not discretionary
- The new Government should emphasise the following:
* sufficiency of provision relates to the needs of individual children and young people
* the requirements for consultation should be based on A12 of the UN Convention and be genuine not token
* it will take full note of the provisions of 31.2 re equality not just between u18s but as regards their place in the general population and it will ensure that GC 17 is fully considered in all future legislation and guidance
* there should be an Article 31 Fund akin/analagous to the Sports and Arts Councils and with government subvention on at least a comparable proportionate scale to those Councils and that like those boides the A31F would be governed by those representing the field of concern - this fund to emphasise partnership and also matched funding where appropriate, and to be long-term in impact
* The unique resource and experience of the voluntary sector in ensuring provision (as at s208((3)) should be emphasised in new Statutory Guidance as a 'primary consideration
- The relevant Act also to be amended by introducing a Monitoring Regime requiring LEAs to submit 3-yearly reports to the Secretary of State
- Attention should be paid to the impact of parked vehicles in residential streets as regards children's access to informal/free play:
This is the achievable Manifesto of Fair Play for Children, we also would want the Government to look at incorporating the relevant articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic UK legislation and to subject all UK Bills to that scrutiny. We also would advocate the same for the Three Protocols to the Convention. As Members of the Council of Europe, we would ask the Government also to consider a new Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, naming the incorporation of the UNCRC as part of the ECHR.
Other relevant documents can be found at our web site
and our Publications Page
Comments welcome at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Freedom to Play