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Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families will be here for a live webchat on Weds 9th Sept from 1-2pm

(338 Posts)
carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 07-Sep-09 15:11:55

Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, will be coming to Mumsnet Towers from 1-2pm on Wednesday 9 September for a live web chat. He is looking forward to answering your questions about the Government's family policies including support during your child's early years; flexible working and how it works (or doesn't work) for you; maternity and paternity leave; childcare provision and Sure Start centres. You can also ask him questions about education and family services in your area or let him know how the recession has affected your family (and how the Gov could help).

Ed is MP for Normanton, married to Yvette Cooper, the Work and Pensions Secretary, and they have three children aged 10, 8 and 5. He loves cooking and is a Norwich City supporter.

Ed won't be answering advance questions, but if you would like to post a question now (or can't join us on Wednesday) we'll do our best to feed these questions through at the beginning of the live chat, particularly if there are some common themes coming through.

He'll try to get through as many of your questions as possible on the day, but even if he can type at breakneck speed it's unlikely he'll be able to answer every single question. However, if there are particular issues that keep coming up that he doesn't have time to address on the day then he's promised to get back with some additional answers in the next couple of weeks.

Over to you!

MNHQ

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 07-Sep-09 15:35:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Buda Mon 07-Sep-09 15:37:50

Gosh he is brave!

CMOTdibbler Mon 07-Sep-09 15:55:19

I won't be around on Wednesday, so can I leave the following question.

Health visitors are the people that are supposed to be the main contact with families in the preschool years. They are uniquely placed to form links with families, children and parents from birth, and care for the family unit.

So, given that they can intervene with health and behaviour advice so effectively, are there so few, who are so overworked, and who do not seem to recieve training on govermental and NHS standards of care ?

We frequently see on this site that women get little support, and frequently atrocious advice on weaning and breastfeeding, which has long term consequences for their babies

mumbot Mon 07-Sep-09 16:34:59

I won't be around Wednesday either; here's my question.

Why do the government offer us 52 weeks maternity leave but only 39 weeks maternity pay?

Thanks

catinthehat2 Mon 07-Sep-09 17:09:40

Can I translate:
"He'll try to get through as many of your questions as possible on the day, but even if he can type at breakneck speed it's unlikely he'll be able to answer every single question. However, if there are particular issues that keep coming up that he doesn't have time to address on the day then he's promised to get back with some additional answers in the next couple of weeks."

In English:

"Ed will be cherrypicking the easy questions and ignoring anything remotely challenging. OK girls!"

curiositykilled Mon 07-Sep-09 17:44:47

I can't make it on wednesday either as I will be at twin clinic.

My question is about leave provision and benefits for parents of twins.

Currently parents of twins are only entitled to the same maternity/paternity leave and benefits as those with one baby. If you are expecting twins you have a much heavier burden in terms of cost, increased risks of premature labour and pre-eclampsia in pregnancy and a much higher risk of postnatal haemorrhaging due to the large size of the placenta.

A twin pregnancy is much, much more strenuous than a singleton pregnancy and you are required to attend obstetric appointments much more often during pregnancy.

Currently a woman who is carrying twins is only entitled to take maternity leave, as a woman carrying a singleton is, from the 11th week before her due date. There is no provision for deciding when that due date should be as predicting when twins will be born is much harder, doctors often prefer a twin gestation to be called 'term' at 38 weeks but this is not the due date I was given - I was given a 40 week due date.

I worked during pregnancy and despite crippling tiredness and morning sickness managed to maintain my job in a shoe shop until I was 14 weeks pregnant - at which time I had a bleed and was advised to give up work (as I was required to stand for long periods). I am convinced that I would not have been physically able to continue working up until I was 29 weeks pregnant.

I am 25, physically fit and healthy and this is my third pregnancy. I am not inclined to make a fuss, I am hard working and found my singleton pregnancies 100 times easier. It was awful to have to give up my job.

I think it would be much better to give women who are pregnant with twins a 78 week maternity leave entitlement (39 weeks pay as with a singleton) with the option of beginning the maternity leave from the time the twin pregnancy is confirmed at the 12 week scan (beginning of the second trimester).

Currently, because twins are so rare, employers are very uneducated about the extra pressures a twin pregnancy carries with it. The increased risks and the increased importance of rest. Both my husband and I have found it very difficult to negotiate with either of our respective employers over the issues our unexpected twin pregnancy has raised.

Twins are however on the increase as more and more women are undergoing IVF treatments. I believe this will become more of an issue over the forthcoming years.

The other issue is paternity leave. I believe fathers of twins should be entitled to double the amount of leave the father of a singleton is. The fact that they can only take 2 paid weeks is ridiculous if you consider the care a set of twins is likely to need and the support the mother is likely to need. Physical activity postnatally increases the likelihood of a postnatal haemorrhage, given that the risk is much higher anyway after giving birth to twins, leaving a woman to cope on her own 2 weeks after giving birth to twins could be very dangerous.

The money available from the health in pregnancy grant should be increased for expectant twin mothers too (perhaps half or a third as much again). The dietary requirements are vastly different if you are trying to maintain a healthy twin pregnancy than with a singleton.

In short I believe the pressures of twin pregnancy are being overlooked by the government currently. I would suggest the following:

1. Increase maternity leave entitlement for women pregnant with multiples to 78 weeks (39 paid) with the option to begin maternity leave sooner than the 29th week of pregnancy.

2. Educate employers about the very different pressures, burdens and requirements that are being placed on their employees during a twin/multiple pregnancy.

3. Increase paid paternity leave entitlement to 2 weeks per baby for fathers of twins/multiples.

I would like to commend Mr Balls on the excellent flexible working legislation. The only trouble with it is the 12-14 week period it can take to come through which is not much good if you need it immediately. Perhaps you could make your application 12-14 weeks before your baby/babies are due?

pluto Mon 07-Sep-09 17:48:39

In addition to Mumbot...Why does the government promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a child's life but not require all employers to provide full maternity pay for women for the six months following birth?

Doobydoo Mon 07-Sep-09 17:59:15

Agree Catinthehat.I shall ask about his response to Martin Naarey's suggestion re 'broken families'What exactly does he think social workers/society should do?
I also want to know where HIS children go to school?
I will ask these on the day and shall be amazed if he replies in a meaningful way[to the 1st question]

smallwhitecat Mon 07-Sep-09 18:06:54

Message withdrawn

catinthehat2 Mon 07-Sep-09 18:14:41

You didn't mention the blinking.

Why do you do that Ed?

pecanpie Mon 07-Sep-09 18:24:00

I want to ask Mr Balls about childcare provision - if the government is so set on getting mums out to work, why isn't there more affordable childcare available. Please don't say that it is available - what is provided is exceptionally limited and the majority of us have to rely on private nurseries.

Also, why are childcare vouchers/salary sacrifice schemes limited to only £243 per person per month - this barely has an impact on my monthly nursery fees.

LadyMuck Mon 07-Sep-09 18:32:36

Doobydoo, I think that where Ed Balls' children attend school is fairly widely reported in the press. The school was put on special measures since last year.

Hobnobfanatic Mon 07-Sep-09 18:37:44

Please ask why the Child Care aspect of Tax Credits discriminate against self-employed parents? I'm a single, self-employed mum who sometimes needs oodles of childcare and sometimes very little, depending on deadlines and family support. I had been told that I could work out an annual average for childcare and divide by 52 - but now I've been told that's wrong and because my childcare hours are not regular for four weeks on the trot, I'm not eligible!

Nightmare!

QueenOfFuckingEverything Mon 07-Sep-09 18:37:56

I want to know about the Badman report.

Why, when it found no evidence that HE was being used as a 'cover for abuse', are umpteen recommendations being considered that will interfere with HEers right to a private and family life? The proposals, if implemented, will give LEA officials the unprecedented right to interview our children without parents present.

Doobydoo Mon 07-Sep-09 18:38:40

Thanks Ladymuck.I have been back in Uk since April so out of touch I expect.

choufleur Mon 07-Sep-09 19:20:39

i can't post on wednesday - at work. can i ask a question now? Why can i only ask for flexible working after i've worked for a company for 6 months? I would love a new job, and have been offered one fairly recently, but had to decline the offer as they wouldn't contemplate flexible working until i'd been there for statutory period.

Also - stop saying that all 3 years old get free nursery places - they don't. they only get it the term after they turn 3, which for April babies is a long time to wait until september!

hotmama Mon 07-Sep-09 19:44:07

I would also like to ask why salary sacrifice schemes are limited to £243 - why aren't they increased in the budget? Also, some of us might actually live in what are deemed affluent areas and therefore have no access to Surestart centres and the like including nursery grant for over 2's - so don't bang on about all this provision for parents when it is not universal.

Also, a query re Academies - I don't want my dc to attend a faith school of any persuasion hence they attend the local community school that states that it has no religious affiliation. Is my choice going to limited in the future as a very high percentage of academies are link sponsored to a particular diocese?

TIA. smile

MyCatIsAFleaBagNoMore Mon 07-Sep-09 19:58:59

Can't be here on Wednesday so I would like to ask why this government seem so intent on getting both parents to work, borrow money, be in debt etc etc, for the sake of the economy yet then continue to wonder why their is an apparent social breakdown? to me the 2 are intrinsically linked.

ommmward Mon 07-Sep-09 20:15:44

My question:

Why on earth is the dscf pushing forwards with an uncosted (but it's going to be costly) universal screening programme for child abuse among home educators when:

- there is not even a hint that it would be effective,
- it is disproportionate to the perceived problem,
- the report on which the plans are based is just embarrassingly poor
- Childrens Services are already struggling to recruit adequately trained staff, and fail to support families who are at risk. Are they really going to be happy about this extra and pointless workload?

and... the Badman report was supposed to deal with welfare issues. Why did he conflate education and welfare, and why did you accept all those recommendations which remove responsibility for educating children from the parents and place it in the hands of the State? Do you have any idea how many people are going to sue the State for failing to provide the suitable education which the law says must be provided to every child?

lottiejenkins Mon 07-Sep-09 20:20:45

Id like to ask him why the Labour Government has closed so many Special Schools since they came to power? A lot of children my son included cannot attend Mainstream school and i think it is wrong to close so many SS's!! I wont be able to be here for the webchat but would love to hear Mr Balls response!!

LadyHooHa Mon 07-Sep-09 20:40:01

pmsl, smallwhite cat!

ravenAK Mon 07-Sep-09 21:14:43

I'd like to thank Mr Balls for enabling me now to teach year 9 English, rather than holding up a big hoop & spending a year coaching them to jump through it. So, ta.

KS2 Sats to go next, please!

LauraIngallsWilder Mon 07-Sep-09 21:15:14

I wont be on MN to join in live either and I am having trouble putting my thoughts into questions!

I am a HEr like ommward so ditto all her questions
Why the need to make HErs feel chased etc
We are HEing because my sons needs were not being met by his schools (he went to 3 in total) By the time we dereg'd him he was having suicidal thoughts and wanting to murder all the staff and burn the school down - the school however ignored all my pleas and concerns shock

Also please can the EYFS rules for childminders be ditched?
I can see the point for nurserys and preschool classes - but many parents want childminders to be childminders not in effect teachers - if they want the structure of the eyfs they opt for a nursery surely

Many of us would like to be childminders but are put off by the new regulations which are very restrictive imho

ShrinkingViolet Mon 07-Sep-09 22:16:16

Ed, with reference to the Badman report (the main questions about that have already been asked, but tbh, I'm not expecting a response) - why did you accept all the "monitoring" recommendations to be implemented as soon as possible, but all of the "support" recommendations were "oh, well, we'll have to think about that"?

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