Weekly Email News Bulletin
Wednesday 9 April 2014

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Children England’s news bulletin is produced weekly and is designed to keep you up-to-date with the latest developments in children and family policy.

If you have any news or information you would like to share in the weekly e-news update or through our monthly newsletter, please email Hannah Slater.

Changes Coming at Children England!

We have been reviewing our membership structure with the aim of making membership more accessible for small organisations – please check the membership pages on our website for more details. Now community and voluntary sector organisations with a turnover of less than £250,000 are able to join us and receive all the benefits being part of the Children England family for just £50 a year. We are also reducing our carbon footprint by making Outlook, our quarterly magazine for members a pdf offer, although anyone who’d like to keep receiving print copies can pay a supplement.
Children England will shortly be asking you to opt into continuing to receive Email News. To do this you will need to sign up as a Children England supporter, confirming that you agree with our values and mission. You don’t need to do anything right now except keep an eye out for more information. We will let you know when you will need to opt into Email News with plenty of notice, so you don’t need to worry about missing important policy news and information.  

Schools Policy Group Meeting

The next meeting of the Children England Schools Policy Group is taking place from 13.30-15.30 on 7 May 2014 in room 14 of the Guildhall, London.
The keynote speaker will be Phill Marshall, Executive Principal at Excelsior Academy and Vice Chair of the Independent Academies Association.
Attendees will also have the opportunity to network with other Children England members that work with schools, exchange views and experience, influence and analyse policy development and implementation, as well as establish key messages to inform Children England’s campaigning and lobbying work.
If you are a member who would like to attend this event please book your place here

Safeguarding Meeting in Southend

Safe Network invites colleagues from the voluntary and community sector and key statutory partners to a Safer Network meeting in South on Wednesday 14 May 10am – 1pm. The meeting will provide the opportunity to:
  • Hear about, and explore Safe Networks resources including its new Standards Xtra, Our Decision and its updated BME resource Keeping Our Children Safer   
  • A specific session that will focus on Everybody’s Business : Safeguarding for Trustees  
  • Network, share experiences or opportunities and identify support needs and get access to nationally acclaimed resources
Book a place at the meeting here.

Ofsted Publishes First Early Years Annual Report

Ofsted has published its first dedicated Annual Report for Early Years for 2012-3. Key points include:
  • Quality in the early years sector is rising and 78% of providers on the Early Years Register are now good or outstanding, the highest proportion since the register was established
  • Though there is some good evidence of better outcomes for children overall, in 2013 only slightly more than a third of children from low income backgrounds reached a good level of development
  • Schools are important providers of early education and childcare but the current system of inspection and regulation does not do enough to recognise this
  • Children are disadvantaged if they are not ready to learn when they start school but at present neither parents, providers or government is clear enough about which children will be school-ready
  • Choosing an early years provider can be too difficult because the information that is available to every parent is not clear and simple enough
  • Recent inspections of children’s centres have found a sector that is characterised by turbulence and volatility
  • A large scale vision for reform is needed to tackle the weaknesses in the early years system

Looked After Children Placed Out of their Local Area

Ofsted has published From a Distance, a study of 92 cases of looked after children from 9 local authority areas living away from their home community. Key findings include:
  • Children were living outside their home local authority for a variety of reasons; most commonly, it was due to a shortage of suitable carers close to home
  • Children’s views were often taken into account, with some good practice examples of where listening carefully to children’s wishes and feelings had led to changes to their care plans
  • Contact with children’s immediate families was generally well managed and promoted, although more could have been done to enable some children to see friends and members of their extended family
  • Too often, the quality of the care and support that was provided to children was assessed and monitored by social workers without the appropriate level of expert advice from health or education specialists. This meant that decisions by managers about children living out of authority were not always based on high- quality assessments that fully described how children’s needs could be met.
  • Independent Reviewing Officers rarely contacted children living out of area between reviews and generally did not provide enough challenge to drift or delay in children’s plans
  • Corporate parents did not give enough priority to assuring themselves that children living out of area were receiving high-quality care and support
  • Too often, local authorities failed to notify other agencies properly when a looked after child had moved into their area

Advice on Safeguarding in Schools

The Department for Education has published Keeping Children Safe in Education; updated statutory safeguarding guidance for schools and colleges. It includes details on:
  • Safeguarding systems, including schools’ child protection policies and the appointment of a designated safeguarding lead
  • Signposts to further, detailed information on specific safeguarding issues including female genital mutilation, child sexual exploitation, cyberbullying, mental health, and radicalisation
The Department for Education also published its response to the consultation on keeping children safe in education.

Troubled Families Programme Progress

The Department for Communities and Local Government has published progress information for the Troubled Families programme at December 2013. The figures say that at the end of December 2013:
  • There were 118,082 troubled families across all local authorities
  • The Troubled Families programme had identified 101,895 families to work with
  • The Troubled Families programme had worked with 78,289 families
The Public Accounts Committee recently published a report on programmes to help families facing multiple challenges which warned that the government will miss its targets to turn the lives of these families around unless it speeds up its rate of success.

Demand for Educational Psychologists Exceeds Current Service Provision

The Government has published a research report based on a workforce survey of educational psychologists in 2013. Key findings include:
  • 81% of respondents reported a greater demand for their educational psychology services than could be met, which was consistent with previous surveys
  • Respondents talked about an increased demand for non-statutory work through traded services which exceeded staff capacity
  • Some respondents reported that their services were struggling to meet statutory duties, which they felt were increasing
  • Educational psychology services were funded through a variety of sources including core council budgets, traded services, the Dedicated Schools Grant, another part of the same organisation, other grants (in that order)
  • A number of respondents stated they were in the process of developing traded services, or were under increasing pressure to generate income through commissioned services as a result of budget cuts

New Government Guidance and Information

The Government has published a departmental advice for local authorities and health partners about implementing the 0 – 25 special needs system from September 2014. The Department for Education has also published advice for all post-16 colleges and academies about implementing the 0 – 25 special needs system from September 2014. 
The Children’s Minister Edward Timpson has written letters to teachers, colleges, local authorities and parents about the SEND reforms.

Civil Society in the UK Mapped

NCVO has published their UK Civil Society Almanac 2014, which aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the scope and changing nature of civil society in the UK. Key points include:
  • Between 2010/11 and 2011/12 the sector saw its income from government fall by £1.3 billion in real terms, a fall of 9%
  • Income from the general public, which is the sector’s biggest source of income, grew by 3.1%, with earned income (e.g. from ticket sales and fees for services) driving this growth
  • The voluntary sector’s spending fell to £38 billion in 2011/12, down in real terms from a high of £39 billion two years before
  • The voluntary sector’s loans are worth about £4billion in total with around 60% secured against an asset
  • Figures from the Labour Force Survey show that 800,000 people were employed by the voluntary sector at the end of 2012

Improving Independent Careers Advice and Guidance in Schools

The Association of Colleges has published a report based on the results of a series of surveys with colleges about the quality of independent careers advice and guidance in schools. Key findings include:
  • The percentage of colleges agreeing that careers information and guidance has got better has increased from 3% to 24% between 2013 and 2014, although across the two years surveyed, no one agreed strongly
  • Colleges still remain significantly concerned (70% of respondents) that raising the participation age is seen locally as ‘stay in school’, not in any education or training
  • 93% of survey respondents thought that schools are trying to retain students for their own sixth forms
  • The top five problems colleges faced in getting information into the schools with poor or limited advice were:
  1. Schools refusing offers from college liaison officers to speak to pupils
  2. Schools' non participation in taster days
  3. Schools not distributing college prospectuses
  4. Schools only allowing college liaison officers to speak to selected students
  5. Schools refusing to display college information in careers units or across the school site

New Resource for Providers of Children’s Palliative Care

Together for Short Lives has published a new interactive resource for voluntary sector providers of children’s palliative care in England. This resource aims to help services identify and engage the people and organisations in their local health, care and education sectors who can be influential in bringing about more joined-up assessments and services for children and young people with life-threatening and life-limiting conditions. They include commissioners, providers and other system leaders. The resource includes:
  • Stakeholder maps - which show how the money flows and who the important decision-makers are
  • Advice on how to contact individuals and organisations
  • Template emails and letters
  • Key messages about children’s palliative care and life-threatening and life-limiting conditions in children

Understanding Social Value in the Voluntary Sector

Compact Voice has published a briefing on understanding social value and the implications for local Compacts and the voluntary sector. The guidance covers:
  • What is social value?
  • What is covered by the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012
  • Requirements on local authorities
  • How voluntary organisations can demonstrate social value
  • How the Compact and social value relate to each other

Impact on Families of Council Tax Support Reforms One Year On

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published a briefing following the first anniversary of the introduction of Council Tax Support (CTS), the successor to Council Tax Benefit (CTB), showing how the system is changing and its impact on families. Key points include:
  • Council Tax Support (CTS) gives low-income working-age families a discount on the amount of council tax they have to pay; if CTS is cut, the result is a tax increase for those families affected
  • The overall levels of CTS available will be lower in 2014/15 than 2013/14
  • In 2014/15 2.34 million low-income families will pay on average £149 more in council tax per year than they would have under CTB
  • In 2014/15 around 70,000 families will have their support cut for the first time and a further 580,000 families will see a second successive change in their entitlement
  • Of the 2.34 million affected families, 1.5 million were in poverty (measured after housing costs) and 1.8 million were workless families
  • The uniform exemption from paying council tax for low-income households no longer exists
  • Levels of arrears and bailiff referrals linked to the non-payment of council tax increased following the introduction of CTS while the collection rate fell

Consultations and Inquiries

(new consultations and inquiries are marked in bold):

Published 13 March 2014
Department for Education: Setting Research Priorities in Education and Children’s Services
Closing 10 April 2014
Department for Education: Management of Independent Schools: Proposed Regulations
Closing 11 April 2014
Local Government Association: Rewiring: Our Ambition for Children and Young People
Closing 16 April 2014
Department for Education: Revised Standards for Food in Schools
Closing 11 April 2014
Department for Education: Adoption: Getting it Right, Making it Work
*Closing 30 April 2014*
Department for Education: Fairer Schools Funding 2015-2016
Closing 1 May 2014
CBI: Call for Evidence: 21ST Century Public Services
Closing 2 May 2014
Youth Select Committee: Inquiry into Lowering the Voting Age to 16
Closing 6 May 2014
Ofsted: Inspection of Maintained Schools and Academies:  Consultation on the Introduction of Separate Graded Judgments on Early School Years and the Sixth Form from September 2014
Closing 13 May 2014
Ofsted: Separate Graded Judgments on the Early Years in School and the Sixth Form
Closing 21 May 2014
NHS England: Consultation on Changes to Specialised Services Specifications
Closing 22 May 2014
Department for Education and Department for Work and Pensions: Child Poverty: A Draft Strategy
Closing 22 May 2014
Department for Education: Childminder Agencies and Changes to the Local Authority Role
Closing 3 June 2014
Department for Education: New Home to School Travel and Transport Guidance
*Closing 12 June 2014*
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: Sharia-Compliant Student Finance
*Closing 19 June 2014*
Department for Education: Savings to the Education Services Grant for 2015 – 2016
*Closing 30 June 2014*
Department for Education: Education, Vocational Training and Youth: Review of the Balance of Competence
*Closing 30 June 2014*
Ofqual: Setting the Grade Standards of New GCSEs in England

Children England Training and Events

To find out about Children England’s current training and events please click here.

Community Care Conference

Community Care Live 2014 is back on 20th and 21st May at the Business Design Centre, Islington in London and registered social workers can register now for FREE. This year’s conference programme will focus on mental health, The Care Bill, adults, child protection, looked after children and management and workforce support. Attend this event to enhance your professional development, see the ‘bigger picture’, network with like-minded  colleagues and hear directly from sector leaders and decision makers on issues which will affect the future of the profession. Speakers include Edward Timpson, Norman Lamb MP, Isabelle Trowler and Lyn Romeo. 
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