What is childhood for? It is commonly seen as a time for play and learning, but should employment play a more important part? Fran Abrams examines the subject of children at work in the UK, and asks why it is a phenomenon so little talked about. She traces the history of child labour in this country, and explores modern-day notions of the 'priceless child' who ought to be immersed in education and shielded from harsh economic reality. In protecting our children, she asks, are we causing them harm? And might the youth of Britain benefit from a revival of child labour?