Children England – News bulletin March 2015
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 their monthly newsletter, please email Hannah Slater.
Children England News
Your Priorities for Looked After Children
This week, Children at Heart’s focus on Looked After Children has generated some thought-provoking guest blogs which shouldn’t be missed. Already up are pieces from the Every Child Leaving Care Matters team and social worker Natasha Adley, and there are more to come! Visit www.englandschildren.org.uk to read them all. If you have comments to add about Looked After Children, just let us know by email or Twitter.
This week’s resource to help you share your priorities for children is the Pledge Card – just download, print and fill in with your most important message about what needs to be done for children this year, and we’ll promote anything we spot with the tag #ChildrenAtHeart or Tweeted at @ChildAtHeart15.
Next week we’ll be thinking about children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. As usual, your blogs, Tweets and priorities for these children and others are extremely welcome.
England’s Children: a manifesto is now available as an A2 poster, so if you’d like a copy to help you campaign for children, just let us know.
Special Offer for Current Members
We are currently running a special offer for all our current members - if anyone within your organisation can recruit a new member for Children England, we will give you a 15% discount on your subscription next year.
Not only that, but to help you get YOUR discount, you can offer them a 10% discount on their first subscription – just because it came from you! All you need to do is have the conversation, send the email, or whatever you can think of to spread the word.
New members will be asked on their application if one of members recommended them to join, and if so, to give a named contact. We’ll do a quick check with you to verify, and then the discounts for both will kick in. Contact Lisa Byrne for more details.
Safe Network Regional Meetings
The next series of Safe Network regional meetings, which are free for voluntary and community sector colleagues and key statutory partners, started earlier this month.
This series of network meetings will include the opportunity to explore Safe Network's new Safeguarding Young Adults at Risk Standards, as well as the chance to network, share experiences and identify support opportunities within your local region.
Government News and Publications
New Child Sexual Exploitation Measures Announced
The Prime Minister has announced a range of measures to tackle child sexual exploitation at Downing Street summit on the issue. Key measures include:
- A national whistleblowing helpline so public sector workers can report bad practice relating to CSE
- A CSE taskforce of professional troubleshooting experts in social work, law enforcement and health that will support local services
- A new system for “clawing back” exit pay-offs for senior staff who leave a post for failing to protect children, but are “quickly re-employed” in a similar role
- Child sexual abuse will be prioritised as a “national threat”, meaning police forces will have a duty to collaborate across force boundaries
- An additional £14m will be given to organisations supporting victims of sexual abuse (£7m in 2014/15 and £7m in 2015/16)
Children’s Rights Strengthened in Modern Slavery Bill
The House of Lords has backed amendments to the Modern Slavery Bill at its third reading, after lobbying by children’s rights groups. Key amendments include:
- Increased legal powers for advocates of child trafficking victims
- Strengthening the criminal offence of slavery, servitude and forced labour to cover all forms of exploitation, including sexual exploitation and forced criminality, to make it easier to prosecute those that abuse, exploit and traffic children
The Bill will now be considered by the House of Commons before it can receive royal assent and become law.
Department of Health Publishes NHS Child Abuse Investigation Reports
The Department of Health has published 16 NHS investigation reports, 15 into allegations of abuse against Jimmy Savile and 1 in relation to his brother, Johnny Savile. These include the investigation of Savile's abuse of 60 people aged between 8 and 40 over 24 years at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire. The Department for Education has also published an oversight report of investigations into allegations against Savile in children's homes and schools.
Health and Wellbeing Website for Young People Launched
Public Health England has launched the 'Rise Above' website aims to offer help for young people on how to deal with personal and societal issues. Created by young people, the ‘Rise Above’ website aims tackle topics that young people are most concerned about, such as puberty, relationships, alcohol, self-harm, smoking, contraceptive choices, drugs, body confidence, peer pressure and mental health.
Sector News and Publications
Call for Evidence for NGO Submission to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
Later this year, the UN will look at how well the UK does at protecting the rights of children here in England. The Children’s Rights Alliance for England (CRAE) are preparing the civil society report to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. This is your opportunity to influence the content of the report!
CRAE is seeking information on children’s experiences of:
- Criminal Justice and Civil Liberties
- Education, Early Years and Play
- Family, Alternative Care, Exploitation and Trafficking
- Poverty and Standard of Living
- Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrant Children.
- Evidence of positive and negative examples of how the Government implements children’s rights
- Specific recommendations on how the government can improve this record
- Comments and evidence on how well the UK has addressed the UN Concluding Observations 2008
- References to studies or reports that can be cited as evidence
- Information on issues of special concern to specific or minority groups of children and young people
- Any other concise information you believe will be helpful
Please respond to this call for evidence by 16 March. Find out more about the NGO Submission to UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and how to take part here.
Schools Urged to Boycott Early Years Baseline Assessments
Early Education and TACTYC: The Association for the Professional Development of Early Years Educators has issued guidance to schools on their options for standardised baseline assessments. Key recommendations include:
- The best interests of the child are not served by baseline test schemes
- School should opt not to use a baseline assessment scheme
- They acknowledge that there is strong pressure on schools to adopt a baseline assessment scheme, despite it being non-statutory
- If using a scheme, schools should choose the model which adheres most closely to the principles of the EYFS assessment
- However, given the criteria specified by the Department for Education, no scheme would be able to fully reflect the principles of EYFS assessment
LGBT Youth At High Risk of Homelessness
The Albert Kennedy Trust has published a report on LGBT Youth Homelessness. Key points include:
- 84% of LGBT organisations stated experience of service users disclosing homelessness, risk of homelessness, or living in a hostile environment
- 77% of young people believed their sexual/gender identity was a causal factor in rejection from home
- Top five issues presented by LGBT young people for their homelessness were family rejection, mental health issues, alcohol abuse, homophobic bullying and sexual exploitation
- Just 13% of housing providers recognised the unique needs of LGBT youth, and only 3.9% had fully implemented the initiatives to address these needs
Academies Criticised for High Rate of Pupil Exclusions
The Communities Empowerment Network has published Mapping the Exclusion Process: Inequality, Justice and the Business of Education, which criticises academies for their ‘alarmingly high’ rate of pupil exclusions compared to state schools. Key points include:
- The Independent Review Panel (IRP) format (the new appeals system for schools exclusions) is unpopular with the majority of parents, exclusion officer and a minority of headteacher, who feel that the changes were politically motivated, unnecessary and confusing for parents
- Many felt that the IRP’s ability to reinstate students could not provide justice for parents and made exclusions easier
- Boys, special educational needs (SEN) students, black Caribbean students, and free school meal (FSM) students have been consistently disproportionately excluded
- Reduced accountability within the exclusion process was tied to school autonomy that often weakened partnerships between schools and local councils, limiting collaboration and the prevention of permanent exclusion
- Reinstated students did not receive adequate redress and were essentially punished for the poor decisions of schools
- There is also no oversight or guidance given regarding the reinstatement process, in order to make sure that pupils are fully reinstated or compensated for the education they have missed, and no mechanism to ensure that schools follow good practice or adhere to timescales
Young People See Self-Harm Online
A survey of 2,000 11 to 21-year-olds commissioned by ChildLine, YouthNet, SelfharmUK and YoungMinds has found a significant proportion of young people have seen images of self-harm online. Key figures include:
- One in every four 11-14 year olds and seven out of ten 18-21 year olds said they had seen images online showing someone self harming
- Of those who had seen an image of someone self-harming, over half of all 11-14 year olds and one in every four 18-21 year olds said they had ‘felt like hurting themselves’ after seeing these images
- Of those who’d seen an image of someone self-harming, nine out of every ten 11-14 year olds and eight out of every ten 18-21year olds said they had found the images upsetting
- Of those who had seen an image of someone self-harming, six out of every ten 11-14 year olds and one in ten 18-21 year olds said they had shared images of someone self-harming on social media
- Over half of all 11-21 year olds said they wouldn't know how to report an image of someone self-harming on social media
- Around a third of 11-18 year olds and 69% of 18-21 year olds said they would go online for support and information about self-harm
Same Sex Couple Adoptions Growing
New Family Social has published statistics on the percentage of orders made for placement with same-sex couple adopters. “One” means one-child-adopted, so if one couple takes three children they would count as three adoptions. The figures show
- 2014 – 340 children adopted by same-sex couples out of 5,050 adoptions (6.7%)
- 2013 – 230 out of 4,010 (5.7%)
- 2012 – 160 out of 3,470 (4.6%)
- 2011 – 100 out of 3,100 (3.2%)
- 2010 – 120 out of 3,180 (3.8%)
- 2009 – 120 out of 3,270 (3.7%)
- 2008 – 80 out of 3,170 (2.5%)
- 2007 – 90 out of 3,290 (2.7%)
Total of 1,240 children adopted by same-sex couples in England since 2007.
Consultations and Inquiries
(new consultations and inquiries are marked in bold):
Closing 11 March 2015
Department of Health: Updating the NHS Constitution
Closing 16 March 2015
Ofqual: GCSE Reform: Regulations for Computer Science
Training and Events
To find out about Children England's current training and events please click here.