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Every Child Matters

Updated on May 10, 2018

What is Every Child Matters?

The Every Child Matters (ECM) green document was presented to Parliament in September 2003 and ultimately led to the Children Act of 2004. By consulting children, young people and their families, the government found that the five outcomes most important to young people today are: being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution to society and economic wellbeing. The Government's aim is to improve standards through all services coming into contact with young people so that all children, regardless of background and upbringing, can meet these outcomes.

Photo of Every Child Matters book courtesy of

Victoria Climbie

The case of Victoria Climbié, who died from severe physical abuse at the hands of her adoptive parents in February 2000, was a major factor in the overhaul of Government policy regarding young people. In Victoria’s case, despite several agencies such as Social Services and the NSPCC being aware of earlier abuse, nothing was done. One of the major changes brought in to address this is the improved system for sharing information.

What changes will this make?

Local Authorities now have a list of all children in their area and which services each child has been in contact with. Each child is given a unique identity number making it easier to share this information across different Authorities and agencies. Each Authority will also have a lead official responsible for collecting and sharing this information. Similarly, each child known to more than one agency will have a single person responsible for coordinating services for them. The introduction of these measures should ensure that children receive effective help and support from the start, and cases such as Victoria Climbié’s will not happen again.

Professionals will be encouraged to work with schools, providing rapid response to teacher’s concerns as well as those of other child workers. A common core of training will be provided across all roles involving contact with children, be that teachers and child carers or those with wider roles such as GPs and the Police.

How does this affect teachers?

But how does this affect us? As teachers we play a pivotal role in securing the five outcomes mentioned above, by valuing each child, protecting their well being, listening to their views and supporting them with their interests. ECM requires children to be stretched academically in the classroom, to feel safe and secure in the school environment and see healthy lifestyles in action.


This can be summarised into five main points which everyone needs to consider within the school.

1. Children must be stretched within the classroom and faced with challenges that help them fulfil their potential

2. Children need to feel safe. Incidents of bullying within school need to be dealt with immediately as per school guidelines. Suspected incidents outside of school need to be passed on to senior staff for appropriate action.

3. Children must see healthy lifestyles in action.

4. Communication between school and parents needs to be more effective. Parents need to be involved in school life more often, whether that be through regular home-school contact, parents association etc.

5. Communication between school and any outside agency dealing with the wellbeing of a child also needs to be effective. If a child approaches you about a personal problem, asking you to keep it a secret, do not promise this, but advise you may need to pass it on to a senior member of staff.

By remembering and following these guidelines, teachers and other educational professionals can help ensure all children reach their potential and leave school prepared for their adult lives.

Were you aware of Every Child Matters? If you work with children, how to you use it in everyday life? Have your say below.


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