Back to Top The United Kingdom is party to numerous treaties regarding the rights of children, notably the Back to Top The United Kingdom does not have a written constitution that provides any guarantees regarding access to healthcare.
It does, however, have a comprehensive national health service founded on the principle of providing treatment according to clinical need rather than the ability to pay.
For the four key stages of education the core subjects include mathematics, English, science, design and technology, information and communication technology, physical education, history, geography, art and design, music, citizenship and a modern foreign language. The right to an education is provided for in a number of international conventions to which the UK is a party, notably the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the European Convention on Human Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Further to this, the Education Act 1996 imposes a duty on the Secretary of State to “promote the education of the people of England.” When performing the duties under the various Education Acts, the Secretary of State must regard the general principle that pupils should be educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents “so far as that is compatible with the provision of efficient instructions and training and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure. The Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms also provides for the principle that parents have the right to ensure that any education or training conforms with their own religious and philosophical beliefs; this principle, however, is only valid in England insofar as it is “compatible with the provision of efficient instruction and training, and the avoidance of unreasonable public expenditure.” These issues typically arise with regard to the provision of religious and/or sex education.
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This report provides a basic overview of the laws regarding children’s rights in a number of fields.
The United Kingdom has a large number of laws protecting children and guaranteeing them basic rights – both for areas in which there is now an ‘entitlement’ such as education, as well as in areas in which they need rights to ensure protection, such as in the criminal justice system.
Given the number and complexity of these laws this report provides a broad overview of legislation and common law as it applies to children’s rights in England and Wales only.
(PDF, 180KB) Within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, England and Wales is the component nation in which largely English law prevails.
This report does not address children’s rights in Scotland or Northern Ireland, although a number of the provisions discussed in the paper may also apply to them.