Our story

Making a big difference for more than 50 years.

We were founded by Mia Kellmer Pringle in 1963, amid concerns about the welfare of children in care. Mia recognised that the way to bring about the best for these children was through co-operation.

She gathered health services, education providers, children’s services - everyone with a stake in their care. Only together could they make things work better.

This approach still defines us today. We identify the most serious issues putting our children and young people at risk and we bring people and organisations together to drive change in society and deliver a better childhood.

Today, our challenge is greater than ever.

In an age of austerity, we’ve witnessed funding for children’s services cut by half, with a devastating impact on young lives.

In an era of disinformation, trust has never had more value. That’s why it’s so important we’re here to interrogate policy and uncover evidence, taking the voices of children to the heart of Government to shape better legislation.

Only by working together can we bring about the best for our children.

We’re united for a better start. United for a better future. United for a better childhood.

We’re the National Children’s Bureau.


Our Storing Up Trouble report, produced in partnership with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC), called on the Government to address the gap in funding for local authority children’s services, take action to prevent a postcode lottery of support and reverse the rapid erosion of early help services.

We convinced the Science and Technology Select Committee to hold a special evidence session to hear young people's voices directly. The resulting experience was so positive that the wider Select Committee Engagement Team worked with us to create a film to promote young people’s involvement in all Parliamentary Select Committees, and to develop guidelines to shape how this process can work effectively.


The Sex Education Forum, as part of a coalition of organisations, successfully campaigned to change the law and make relationships and sex education compulsory in all secondary schools in England.

These are our children, a review led by Dame Christine Lenehan was released, calling for urgent action at a national level to prevent children with complex needs being institutionalised at an early age, at huge cost to the taxpayer and with low ambitions for improving their lives. 

In partnership with Lankelly Chase, we published Children Missing Education, which found that the reasons for children being out of education are complex and often interconnected. Factors related to the child themselves, their family and home, school and wider systems and society all play a part.

We conducted an inquiry into the state of children’s social care services, on behalf of a cross-party group of MPs and Peers, leading calls for government action to address the gap between available resources and rising demand for social care support.


The Childcare Bill provides for all three and four year olds with working parents access to an extra 15 hours of free childcare (on top of the current universal entitlement of 15 hours).  We persuaded Peers to table amendments on securing the quality and capacity of the workforce (Level 3, SENCO).

The Special Education Consortium successfully campaigned to have SEN and disability provision inspected at local level, rather than purely at a school level, leading the Government to establish a new inspection framework.

We published ‘Rethinking children’s services,' a book of essays to stimulate new thinking about services for children, in particular for those who need our protection and support the most.


We published the Poor Beginnings report, which found startling variations in young children's outcomes at regional and local authority level.


We appointed Anna Feuchtwang as our new chief executive.

We secured a £36m grant from the Big Lottery Fund's A Better Start initiative to lead on a 10-year innovative programme, alongside the Lambeth Early Action Partnership ( LEAP), to improve the lives of children in Lambeth.

The Special Educational Consortium, the Every Disabled Child Matters campaign and the Council for Disabled Children, played a key role in shaping the Children and Families Act 2014.

We founded the Information, Advice and Support Services Network (IASSN), providing training and support to local IAS Services across England.

We published a report on children and young people's relationship with the police with the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC), which successfully led to an amendment to the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill to prevent 17-year-olds from being held overnight in police custody.

Our Research Centre and Early Childhood Unit conducted research and started work on guidance on implementing the new Integrated Review process.


We achieved a NHS system-wide focus on children and young people, with the publication of Better health outcomes for children and young people: Our Pledge.

Working with the early years sector we successfully lobbied the government to halt plans to relax child:staff ratios in early years settings.

We successfully campaigned for the new national curriculum to embed financial education in both mathematics and citizenship education, so children can be taught the basic skills of how to manage money.

We published Greater Expectations a new research report, looking at how social deprivation continues to blight the lives of children and young people. 


The Child Poverty Act came into force after years of lobbying by End Child Poverty campaign, of which NCB is a founding member. The Act places a duty on the Secretary of State to meet UK-wide poverty targets by the end of the 2020 financial year.


The NCB library was recognised as a collection of national significance, by the British Library. 


We established the Centre for Outcomes in Children's Services (C4EO), a groundbreaking project commissioned by government to identify evidence of what works in children's services.


We made significant contributions to the legislation of the 2006 Childcare Act, ensuring high quality early learning and care, better access to early childhood services for under-fives, and the duty to listen to views of young children.  


We played a pivotal role in establishing the first Children's Commissioner for England


Working with the NSPCC, we formed the Anti-Bullying Alliance and set up the national awareness raising campaign Anti-Bullying Week. 


The Childhood Bereavement Network was launched.


NCB policy work on early intervention is adopted into the Government’s Sure Start programme. 

We began work to promote the active participation of children and young people with the publication of Young Opinions, Great Ideas and later established our youth membership group, Young NCB, in 1999.


We kick-started policy thinking around children's centres with the publication of Not Just a Nursery, which showcased early years centres that provided a more complete service for families.


The Disability Discrimination Act made provision for the education of pupils with disabilities, including those with special educational needs. Our very own Philippa Russell was the commissioner with responsibility for education, children and families.


We helped to shape the 1993 Education Act, particularly around children with special needs, and many of our recommendations on school exclusions were incorporated in government guidelines.


We established the National Forum on AIDS and Children, now known as the HIV Network.


Diana, Princess of Wales made her first public speech about AIDS at the Council for Disabled Children Conference on Children and HIV/AIDS.


We published the report Child Poverty and Deprivation in the UK, which resulted in the unfreezing of Child Benefit allowances.


We played a key role in shaping the Children Act, we intensively lobbied for the closure of long-stay hospital wards for children with learning disabilities and to transfer responsibility for disabled children from the NHS to their local authority.

We also established the Children's Play Council, later to become Play England.


In response to national panic surrounding AIDS and HIV, we launched the Sex Education Forum.


We formed the primary resource centre and think-tank for under-fives in Britain, NCB's Early Childhood Unit. 


We established the All Party Parliamentary Group for Children, a group of around 100 MPs and Peers interested in issues affecting children and young people, which is still active today.


With UNICEF and Save the Children, we sponsored the International Year of the Child, advancing the cause of children nationally and internationally.


We founded the Council for Disabled Children (CDC).


We published the groundbreaking study Born to Fail?, which questioned the priorities and perspectives of British society after exploring the impact of inequality on 'disadvantaged'.


We developed the report Living with Handicap, which highlighted the danger of stigmatising children and putting too much emphasis on disabilities rather than on children's needs and abilities. The report helped pave the way for the 1981 Education Act.


We were born. Founded by Mia Kellmer Pringle, amid growing concerns over the treatment of neglected children.