Today’s news review looks at a report from the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on child protection services and a new initiative by Bristol University to lower its entry grades for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
PAC report on child protection
Today, Friday 16 December, the Public Accounts Committee released a report on children’s services in the UK. It states that the Government is failing to develop a plan to improve protection services, which is leaving children at ‘risk of harm’.
We are clear that children’s services are in need of systemic reform and it is wrong to say that there is no strategy in place. Our latest policy paper – ‘Putting Children First’ – sets out a strong programme to improve children’s social care over the next five years. We are also taking tough action in cases where councils are not doing well enough.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
Children’s services have suffered from generations of failure – that’s why it needs systemic reform, and systemic reform takes time. However, it is wrong to say there is no strategy in place. ‘Putting Children First’ published in July set out a clear programme of action to 2020, an ambition which the Committee have welcomed.
We have been taking tough action where councils are failing children, stepping in to make sure improvement plans are taken forward as a matter of urgency. Since May 2010, 34 local authorities have been lifted out of intervention.
We are supporting the recruitment and training of social workers so they have the skills they need for this important job, investing over £750 million in bursaries and in programmes such as Frontline and Step Up. And this year we published new plans to deliver excellent services across the country, alongside new legislation to further strengthen protection for the most vulnerable children.
Yesterday, Thursday 15 December, Bristol University announced plans to accept lower exam grades from disadvantaged local pupils.
The project is aimed at increasing social mobility and attracting a wider range of students. Eligibility for the ‘Bristol Scholars’ programme will be based on headteachers’ assessments of potential, rather than grades. Priority will also be given to students who are young carers, are the first in their family to go to university or who live in care.
Education Secretary Justine Greening said:
I was the first in my family to have the opportunity to go on to university, and getting my degree opened doors to the type of future I knew I wanted for myself.
This Government wants to widen access to a great education so that all young people can go as far as their talents will take them. That's why it's great to see innovative schemes like the Bristol Scholars Programme which can be a turning point for local young people.
To read the full announcement from Bristol University please see here.