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Education in the Media: 25 May 2016

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Child protection, Exams and qualifications

The hands of young children's hang on tightly to the bars of a spinning merry go round. There is motion blur in the background, creating a soft wash of brown and green color. There is copy space at the top of the image for a line or two of text.

Today's education news review covers the announcement that Birmingham’s Children’s Services will set up a voluntary trust, and an open letter from NAHT to the Education Secretary on changes to primary assessment.

Birmingham Children’s services

On Tuesday 24 May Birmingham City Council announced that it will be working with the Department to set up a voluntary trust to help improve its Children’s Services further. The news was first covered on broadcast on Tuesday 24 May by the BBC and ITV and quickly followed up by a range of national and regional outlets including BBC News Online, ITV News Online, Birmingham Mail, Express and Star and Community Care.

Today the story runs fairly widely in print. It is covered in The Telegraph and quotes an NSPCC spokesperson, who says a ‘lack of consistency’ in the support offered to children by Birmingham City Council’s Children’s Services has led to a breakdown of trust in the system.

Much of the coverage links the announcement with a Dispatches documentary, due to air tomorrow, 26 May. The Daily Mail runs the story, linking it to a study released today by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN), which found that one in five children in England have been referred to social services. The Guardian and The Sun also ran small news pieces.

Our response to Birmingham’s announcement:

Nothing is more important than keeping children safe. Although Birmingham City Council has made some improvements to the way it runs its children’s services, we know this progress has not gone far enough, fast enough. The council recognises this and that’s why we are working together to look at the steps that now need to be taken to make sure children and families in Birmingham receive the best possible care and support.


The Prime Minister was clear that we cannot tolerate failure in children's services. That is why we are looking at the best next steps including moving towards a voluntary trust.

Our position on the UCLAN study is:

Ensuring children are safe and well looked after is our top priority - where there are concerns about a child’s safety or welfare, it is only right that the appropriate people are informed and where needed, action is taken.


We have introduced a new Social Care Bill that will continue to reform the care system so that we increase the quality of our social workers and ensure children receive the highest quality care and support. We are also enabling councils to look at innovative ways in caring for vulnerable children, backed by £100m of government funding.

NAHT on primary assessment

The NAHT has published an open letter to the Education Secretary calling for a fundamental review of the current system for assessing primary school children. The story features in the Times today, which reports that headteachers are demanding that the Government withholds SATs results from the public, as ‘serious problems’ have emerged in the planning and implementation of tests this year, with a negative effect on schools that did not have enough time to prepare.

Changes to primary assessment were first announced in March 2014 and since then we have provided schools with further information to help them adapt to new assessment arrangements. In addition to sample questions were published in summer 2014, and complete sample tests were published in summer 2015 to give primary schools nearly a year of lead-in time to ensure their pupils are adequately prepared. In her speech at the NAHT conference in April the Education Secretary also made clear that no more than 6% of primary schools will be beneath the floor this year.

Our statement in response to the NAHT:

We have reformed the primary curriculum to help ensure all children leave primary school having mastered the basics, and the support and hard work of teachers is key to making this happen. We are determined to get this right and remain committed to working with teachers and headteachers as we continue with our primary assessment reform. We will respond to this letter in due course.

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