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Regulations specifically relating to Wales are not addressed in this report.
There are three stages of public education in England, comprised of the primary education stage; secondary education stage and further education. Nursery education is also provided for children who are over two years of age but have not yet reached the compulsory school age. Compulsory education in England begins at the age of five years old and continues until the end of the “school leaving year” in which the child is sixteen years old. When a child turns five years old the parents must ensure that their child receives “efficient full-time education suitable to his age, ability and aptitude, and to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.” Once a child has reached the age for compulsory education and is registered with a school in his or her area it is an offense for the parent to fail to have the child attend the school regularly; parents may be punished with a fine for failing to do so. The duty for children to obtain an education thus falls both upon the parents, to ensure that they attend schools, and local education authorities, who are responsible for providing the schools.
The following examples are extracted from a House of Commons Library Standard note and include: The use of children in armed conflict is prohibited in England and Wales, and it is party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The minimum age for joining the armed forces is sixteen years of age, and parental consent is required up until the prospective recruit reaches the age of eighteen. In 2004 6,690 Members of the Armed forces were under the age of eighteen, representing 3.2 per cent of all Armed Forces’ personnel. Only those over the age of eighteen are deployed to operations, “in accordance with the UK position on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.” Back to Top The prohibition of trafficking in children is addressed through a number of Acts of Parliament, notably the Immigration Act 1971 (the facilitation of illegal immigration); the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004, (which introduced a new criminal offence of trafficking people into, within or out of the UK for the purposes of exploitation); the Children Act 1989; the Children Act 2004 (child protection and care) and the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 is currently the substantive piece of legislation regarding sexual offenses and introduced the specific offense of trafficking individuals into, within or out of the England and Wales for the purposes of sexual exploitation.
The wording of the trafficking offence does not mirror that in the UN Protocol to prevent, suppress, and punish trafficking.
Additional provisions are applicable to children in the entertainment industry, which provides an exemption: that children can perform certain duties under a license. Local authorities can also make by-laws to further restrict the hours or circumstances in which children may work. There are a number of laws that prohibit the use and exploitation of children in dangerous labor.
The Secretary of State has a number of statutory responsibilities under the National Health Service Act 1977 to ensure that, where possible, a free and comprehensive health service is provided in England and Wales to improve both the physical and mental health of the people of the country and to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses. The government has recently introduced a National Service Framework, which provides that healthcare services for children should be designed and delivered around the particular needs of children. The framework intends “to lead to a cultural shift, resulting in services being designed and delivered around the needs of children and families.” Healthcare facilities are free and available for British children and infants, and the rate of infant mortality is relatively low, with 3,368 infant deaths (under one year of age) registered in England and Wales in 2006, at a rate of five per 1,000 live births. The National Service Framework regarding pre- and postnatal care of infants has been welcomed by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.
The policy aims to provide mothers with a choice of either a midwife or a doctor for prenatal care; a choice of place of birth between a home birth, midwife centre birth, or a hospital birth with a doctor or a midwife.
For non-school days, children under the age of fifteen may work up to five hours a day on days that they are not required to attend school, not including Sundays, up to a maximum of twenty five hours per week.
Those aged fifteen years or older may work up to eight hours per day on any day school attendance is not required, up to a maximum of thirty five hours per week, with the limit to working a maximum of two hours on a Sunday still applying.