Children England News
We must all tackle the systemic racism that led to the abuse of Child Q
Children England is pleased to be a signatory to the letter from children and youth sector organisations urging national action on the systemic racism that lead to 15 year old 'Child Q' being strip-searched by police at her school without parental consent or an appropriate adult present. (The local child safeguarding practice review is here.) Supported by UK Youth, Save the Children and many others, the letter says:
The Education Secretary is reported to be exploring tougher guidelines for schools on strip-searching.
- Schools must be places where all children are protected. Safeguarding training and relevant guidance for all teachers needs to be reviewed and strengthened, in line with the reviewers’ recommendations.
- all safeguarding training that teachers undertake must include a specific element on racial bias, so teachers are more alert to the traumatic and lifelong negative impact that racism has on children.
- The Home Office and police leaders also need to take action and review statutory guidance and training around searches to ensure that the safeguarding needs of children are paramount in every situation.
Parliamentary News and Publications
Schools white paper: Opportunity for all
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has introduced the government's Schools White Paper to parliament, saying "we must do more to ensure every child can access cornerstone literacy and numeracy skills, wherever they live and learn." The priorities of the paper, therefore, are targets for 90% of children to leave primary school reaching the expected standards in literacy and numeracy, and to increase the national average GCSE grades in English language and maths from 4.5 to 5 by 2030. Policies proposed to help meet these targets include:
Several reviews and consultations will flow from the Schools White Paper, including new quality standards for academies and new plans for sport and music education. New statutory guidance on school attendance will be introduced.
- A 'Parent Pledge' that every parent will be informed if their child falls behind in English or maths, and their child will receive extra support or tuition to reach the expected standard, with one-to-one and small group tuition becoming a permanent feature of the school system
- Changes to make it easier for schools to use the Pupil Premium in support of numeracy and literacy teaching
- New qualifications including a 'Leading Literacy' NPQ and a leadership-level NPQ in early years aimed at improving the quality of teaching for school readiness
- New admissions powers for local authorities to ensure every child in their area has a place at a local school
- All schools to be in, or joining, a Multi-Academy Trust by 2030, with local authorities permitted to establish their own MATs
- All state-funded mainstream schools should provide a minimum school week of 32.5 hours by September 2023
The Local Government Chronicle points out the White Paper's failure to address poverty, saying "it is worth remembering that there is a strong link between child poverty and poor school attendance and attainment. So it is not enough just to ensure everybody is in school - we need to knock down the barriers in their lives that hold them back."
Responses from education bodies have been covered by CYP Now, including CEO of the Education Policy Institute Natalie Perera who said "It seems unlikely that many of these bold pledges will in practice be met."
The Department for Education has also published its response to the consultation on a new schools National Funding Formula (NFF), confirming that it will go ahead "to allocate funding to schools directly through a single national funding formula. Through the completion of these reforms, school funding allocations through the NFF will no longer be subject to substantial local adjustment."
SEND green paper
Government has also introduced its green paper on special educational needs and disabilities and alternative provision, with a consultation on proposals that runs till July 1st. Aiming to create a more consistent system across the country and earlier intervention where children need support, its proposals include:
CYP Now also has a summary of the SEND paper's key measures.
- establish a new national SEND and alternative provision system setting nationally consistent standards for how needs are identified and met at every stage of a child’s journey across education, health and care
- create new local SEND partnerships bringing together education, health and care partners with local government to produce a local inclusion plan setting out how each area will meet the national standards
- support parents and carers to express an informed preference for a suitable placement by providing a tailored list of settings, including mainstream, specialist and independent - they will continue to have the right to request a mainstream setting for their child
- introduce a standardised and digitised EHCP process and template to minimise bureaucracy and deliver consistency
- build expertise and leadership, by consulting on a new SENCo national professional qualification (NPQ) for school SENCos, alongside increasing the number of staff with an accredited SENCo qualification in early years settings
- invest £2.6 billion, over the next 3 years, to deliver new places and improve existing provision for children and young people with SEND or who require alternative provision
- deliver more new special and alternative provision free schools in addition to 60 already in the pipeline
School absences 2020-21
Figures for rates of school absence for the year 2020 - 21 have been published, showing an overall absence rate of 4.6% (not including Covid-related absence) which is a decrease on 2018 - 19 (4.7%). Within this:
Prospective Chair of the Charity Commission questioned by Select Committee
- The rate of persistent absence (missing over 10% of school sessions) rose to 12.1% (from 10.8% in 2018 - 19)
- The absence rate for pupils with an EHC plan was 13.1% over 2020 - 21
- For those with SEN support, the overall rate for 2020 - 21 was 6.5%
- The overall absence rate for pupils eligible for free school meals (FSM) was 7.8% across the full year, more than double the rate for pupils who were not eligible for FSM at 3.7%
Orlando Fraser, the government's preferred candidate for Chair of the Charity Commission, was questioned at a pre-appointment hearing by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. You can watch the full recording on Parliament TV or read Civil Society's summary of the main discussions. Mr Fraser made points including:
- that his time as a Conservative Party candidate was long ago and that he sees himself as independent of party politics, with experience of maintaining neutrality from his previous time on the Charity Commission board
- that he believes one of the Commission's jobs is to stand up for charities when they're unfairly attacked in the media
- that he is concerned about the impact of the cost of living crisis on the charity sector
- that he will try to make the board of the Charity Commission more diverse
Sector News and Publications
MPs' final chance to protect child victims of modern slavery?
The Nationality and Borders Bill is still being considered by parliament: in its current form, it will have devastating consequences for victims of trafficking and exploitation regardless of their age or nationality, and in particular will roll back protections for child victims, placing them at risk of further abuse and serious harm. The House of Lords has recommended that the Bill include Lords Amendment 27, which protects child victims by exempting them from the Bill’s most damaging proposals and ensuring that decisions about children are made in their best interests. The government disagrees with the suggested change to the Bill, and next Monday 4th could be MPs’ final opportunity to accept the Lord’s recommendations and include vital protections for children on the face of the Bill.
This joint briefing (produced by organisations and experts across the child and anti-slavery sector) provides detail on the contents of and need for Lords Amendment 27. There’s also still time to sign and send this letter to your MP, calling on them to support the Lords Amendment 27, vote for protection for child victims of modern slavery in the Bill, and to ensure stable futures for all children who have been trafficked and exploited.
The relationship between poverty and child abuse and neglect
Dr Guy Skinner and Professor Paul Bywaters have published a new literature review of evidence about the relationship between poverty and child abuse and neglect, which adds to the work of the Child Welfare Inequalities Project. Funded by the Nuffield Foundation, this report updates the previous evidence review published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in 2016. Covering 90 papers in all, from 15 countries, the evidence is much stronger than in 2016 and has significant implications for policy and practice. Their report finds:
Review of youth work and schools
- Changes in the economic conditions of family life alone – without any other factors – impact on rates of abuse and neglect. Increases in income reduced rates significantly. Economic shocks increased abuse and neglect except when families were protected by welfare benefits.
- Deep poverty, growing rapidly in the UK in recent years, and persistent poverty are more damaging for children’s safety and development than a low income or temporary difficulties.
- Insecurity and unpredictability of income, often the result of benefits administration practises, housing and employment, compound the problems of parenting with an inadequate income.
- Child protection systems and services are too rarely engaging effectively with the impact of income, employment and housing conditions on families and children. Nor do policies, systems and practice adequately recognise how economic conditions are inextricably connected to factors more often highlighted: mental health, domestic violence and abuse and addictions.
The National Youth Agency has launched an independent review of youth work and schools, with former children's minister Tim Loughton MP and former shadow education secretary Kate Green MP as co-chairs. In the wake of closer working between schools and youth work during the pandemic, an expert panel will review the role and contribution of youth work with schools for increased learning opportunities, alongside young people’s mental health and wider wellbeing, and employability. This is accompanied by a call for evidence and survey of schools and youth work organisations, online hearings and visits with young people.
A vision for kinship care
Ahead of the conclusion of the Care Review, Kinship has published Out of the Shadows, a vision for kinship care in England. In England and Wales, there are currently estimated to be over 162,400 children in kinship care, nearly double the 88,115 children in local authority care. Yet Kinship describes a lack of support available for many kinship carers, who are themselves more likely to be older, in poor health or living in poverty. The vision includes:
Judges' concerns about the lack of places in secure children's homes for welfare
- Financial support: All kinship carers should receive the financial support they need, including a non means tested financial allowance that matches the current minimum fostering allowance. They should also be entitled to kinship care leave (on a par with adoption leave) when the child first moves into their care
- Information and advice: All kinship families should have access to independent information and advice, including free legal advice, from the point they are considering becoming kinship carers. Access to this information and advice should be available for as long as the family needs.
- Practical and emotional support: All kinship families should have access to all the support they need. This support should include health, education, and therapeutic support for the children. It should also include: preparation and training; practical, emotional, and therapeutic support; peer support; and support with contact for the carers.
- Legal rights: All kinship carers should have the legal right to: legal aid for any legal proceedings for the child; a role in legal proceedings; and the support they need.
The second research report from the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) into secure children's homes for welfare sheds light on court judgments where a child or young person must be deprived of their liberty elsewhere than a secure children’s home for welfare. As there are a shortage of secure children’s homes for welfare spaces across England and Wales, children and young people are being deprived of their liberty in inappropriate places including unregulated settings. The NYAS briefing spotlights cases where judges have commented on the “continuing and acute shortage of appropriate resources” to keep children and young people deprived of their liberty safe.
Preventing a post-pandemic surge in the criminalisation of children
The Alliance for Youth Justice has published a new policy briefing exploring the significant risk of a surge in the number of children drawn into the justice system following the pandemic, and argues that strong leadership and co-ordinated action is required to respond to children at risk. This publication is the first of three policy briefings for ‘Impact of COVID-19 on Youth Justice’ project, delivered with Manchester Centre for Youth Studies.
Local authorities underspending on early years
The National day Nurseries Association reports on its research into local authority spending of early years funding from April 2020 to March 2021, finding that 80% (106) of local authorities reported an underspend in all or some areas of their early years funding, totalling £55m.
The National Day Nurseries Association said “This funding system is not fit for purpose and needs a fundamental review. Children, families and providers deserve a system that works for them and ensures support follows the child it is intended for all the way to the providers delivering their places.”
- Only eight local authorities said they gave some or all of this money back to providers in either a lump sum, grant or by increasing their funding rate.
- A total of 29 councils put £16m into their reserves and a further 17 had not decided how to proceed or did not give any information about this.
- Another nine local authorities used their underspend to offset deficits elsewhere.
- This year’s investigation also revealed that 24 local authorities had their funding “clawed back” or “adjusted” by the Department for Education.
Another opportunity for care experienced young people to get involved in CRAE's housing campaign
The Children’s Rights Alliance England (CRAE) at Just for Kids Law are launching a new Care & Housing campaign which will give young people with lived experience of care and housing issues an opportunity to develop skills, meet new people and speak truth to power. The campaign is open to 16-25 year olds across London who have experienced the care system and experienced housing issues/homelessness. There are a number of ways to get involved including a visit to your organisation, a drop-in session for young people you work with or an online information session about the campaign on Thursday 21st April. If you are interested, please email Michaela Rafferty to find out more.
NGOs are being starved by under-funding of admin costs
A new report from Humentum and a collaborative of private foundations says that inadequate funding of NGO's full costs and limited access to unrestricted income is making it extremely challenging for most NGOs to achieve stable financial health. The key findings are:
The report recommends that funders:
- The starvation cycle is widespread: Most funders (two thirds working with the national NGOs surveyed) provide inadequate coverage of their grantees’ administration costs
- Poor quality income damages financial health: Inadequate cost coverage and limited access to unrestricted income is damaging the NGOs’ financial health
- Financial health requires quality income and financial knowhow: funders will need to do more than cover costs and provide some unrestricted funding, they need to strengthen financial management capabilities as well.
Charities' meeting flexibility ends on 21st April
- consistently cover a full and fair share of all associated administration costs
- directly fund financial management capabilities for grantees and making some contribution to unrestricted funds
- systematically collect data on the extent of adequate cost coverage
The Charity Commission has updated its guidance for charities on how they hold meetings during the pandemic, with the more flexible approach to charities holding meetings outside of the terms of their governing documents coming to an end on the 21st of April. All charities should check that their governing document allows them to hold meetings in the way they want to, whether that’s online, by telephone, remotely or in person.
At Just for Kids Law
Head of Immigration
Contract: Permanent, full time
Salary: £41,000 – £46,125
Location: Central London
Deadline: Midnight, Wednesday 13th April
This is an exciting role and unique opportunity to work in an organisation which is outcome-driven and focused on strength-based practise and trauma-informed lawyering. We support exceptionally vulnerable young people with complex immigration needs and are not motivated by financial targets. Just for Kids Law supports its legal practitioners through regular training which strengthens our child’s rights approach across the organisation and helps ensure that young people are fully engaged throughout the duration of their legal case.
Areas of practise will include deportation law and appeals on Article 8 grounds, refugee and human rights claims, trafficking claims and representation in NRM referrals, nationality law and citizenship claims and family and private life claims. There is opportunity to undertake judicial review challenges and legal advocacy in the First-tier and Upper-tier Tribunals, Immigration and Asylum Chamber. The postholder will conduct and supervise a diverse range of casework under LAA supervisor requirements. They will be regulated by OISC or the SRA, dependant on qualification. The postholder will supervise our immigration legal aid contract which we utilise to undertake casework where Exceptional Case Funding has been granted.
Charity Commission: 2 x board members
Time requirement: up to 24 days a year for three years
Remuneration: £350 per day plus reasonable expenses
Location: London or Liverpool
Deadline: 14th April 2022
These two vacancies are senior roles requiring people with the necessary non-executive skills and experience to assist the Chair in providing strategic leadership and oversight of the Charity Commission. The Commission’s work is highly varied and engages with people and institutions throughout England and Wales: the Board seeks to reflect that diversity in its composition.
Successful candidates will have strong interpersonal, intellectual and analytical skills and sound judgement and the ability to make high level decisions as a senior non-executive, together with a commitment to and appreciation of good corporate governance. Candidates with previous non-executive director or senior executive experience in the private, public and/or not-for-profit sector are welcome to apply, however this is not essential.
Office of the Children's Commissioner for Jersey
Secondment opportunity Case Work Office of the Children’s Commissioner Jersey
Contract: 29th April 2022 until 29th April 2023
Hours: Full time, 37 hours a week
Salary £51,441 Plus housing allowance of £500 per month and £1,500 per annum for travel
The primary role will be delivering the Commissioner for Children and Young People (Jersey) Law 2019 namely:
- Article 18 Assistance in relation to complaints
- Article 19 Power to bring or intervene in legal proceedings
- Article 20 Assistance in relation to legal proceedings
The postholder will also inform the evidence, communications and policy functions of the Children’s Commissioner, identifying issues and trends, identifying solutions and/or service developments and providing practice-based expert advice to policy staff.
We would like to enhance our role in strategic litigation, electing and bringing cases to the Royal Court with the goal of creating broader changes in Jersey for children. Therefore, expertise and experience in strategic litigation, complaints and investigations in a child human rights context is desirable. The Commissioner contracts with local lawyers (known as advocates in Jersey) and the post holder will have regular meetings with our lawyers to help develop our strategic litigation function.
For an informal chat please make contact with Deborah at
Events, training and consultancy services
Power Project: join the conversation about power and solidarity in social change
Lunchtime briefing on the project and the new report It's All About Power
Date: Wednesday 30th March 2022
Time: 1pm - 2pm
Workshop to explore the ideas in It's All About Power and what it means to put them into practice
Date: Tuesday 19th April 2022
Time: 10am - 1pm
From Healthcare Conferences UK
Preventing Suicide in Young People & Children
Date: Tuesday 26th April 2022
This fifth National conference focuses on Saving Young Lives – Preventing Suicide in Children and Young People. Through national updates, case studies from multi-agency settings and lived experience insight, this conference will look at progress being made and what needs to change to improve resilience, wellbeing, mental health support and effectively prevent suicide in children and young people. The conference will use case studies to demonstrate interventions that work in health, schools, universities and multi-agency settings. The conference will examine implementation of the self harm and suicide prevention competence framework for children and young people and will also discuss offering tailored support to families bereaved by suicide in line with the NICE recommendations.
Readers of Children England News can get a 20% discount with code hcuk20CHE
Date: 11th - 12th May 2022
This event will provide the latest information and guidance on recommended safeguarding practices. Key topics include: safeguarding in sport; the impact of physical punishment on children; and understanding the Online Safety Bill. All sessions will be available on-demand for four weeks after the event.
Resources for children, families and practitioners during Coronavirus
Advice from children and young people themselves
We're delighted to be able to share with you six E-zines produced by children and young people involved with Brighton's Safety Net. They include activities, advice and information - straight from young people themselves. They're pretty useful if you're an adult too!
Safety Net also produce a newsletter for parents and carers called Safety Rocks - here is Spring '21 edition.
Direct support for children and young people and their families
Support with service delivery and management
- For social workers from BASW: COVID-19 updates – find out more about vaccinations, how to keep yourself and others safe and best practice.
- Digital Boost - free digital support for small businesses and charities
Finance and commissioning information
Support for staff
Children England's news bulletin is produced weekly and is designed to keep you up to date with the latest developments in children and families policy.
If you or your organisation have new research, campaigns or policy development in children and families work that you'd like us to share, send us the details and we'll include it in Children England News.