Flourishing children, smarter government: Learning from the frontline


Leading thinker on social action, David Robinson, sets out a vision for current and future UK government for radical transformation of public services to prioritise people over process.

This essay, part of a series celebrating 4Children’s 30th year, sees Robinson, of the Early Action Task Force and a founding friend of 4Children, argue that to really transform people’s lives, public services need to build “deep value” relationships with families. This approach would move away from the current transaction driven system, which is increasingly structured to provide only superficial support.

As part of such an approach, he challenges the public sector to reject the current vogue for building “resilient” communities - a negative concept, he argues, centered on preparing for problems - and instead embrace the language of “readiness.” In this, individuals are supported to work through life’s changes at a pace which enables them to be the best that they can be.

Posing the question as to whether ”society’s rigid adherence to artificial time limits, such as when children should move from nursery to primary school or a prisoner leave prison after his sentence has ended, reflect the reality of the human condition?”, Robinson’s answer is a clear no: “Surely a child’s progress through the education system doesn’t need to be a series of traumas, each one triggered by an affixed date and a universal rule.”

He concludes with a rallying cry to convert the rhetoric around “joined up services” into a government commitment in which the approach is always “one person, one family: one plan.”


Download the pamphlets published as part of a lecture series to celebrate 4Children's 30th year:

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