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Education in the media: Monday 21 May 2018

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Exams and qualifications, Mental Health, Social work

Today’s blog looks at the number of children’s social workers and children’s mental wellbeing.

Social Workers

On Sunday 20 May, the Mirror and Sunday People published comments by Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner who said that one in seven children’s social workers left the profession last year, according to Labour statistics.

The Department’s workforce statistics show that the number of local authority employed child and family social workers from 30 September 2017 was 30,670 - an increase of 2% on the previous year. In addition, government figures show that there were more children and family social workers starting their careers than leaving it – 6,020 starters for the year ending 30 September 2017 compared to 4,500 leavers for the same year.

The term ‘leaver’ used by the Labour Party is misleading as it does not necessarily equate to leaving the profession. It includes, for example, those taking up a post in a different local authority.

We are supporting the recruitment and training of social workers so they have the skills they need for this important job. We supported the Local Government Association (LGA) to launch a Come Back to Social Work campaign to retrain social workers who have left the profession. Following this, the Government is funding an expanded Return to Social Work programme, with funding in place to train up to 100 social workers across three regions of England.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Social workers do incredible work transforming the lives of the vulnerable children and families in their care, and we are continuing to attract more high-quality recruits to the profession.

Our initiatives are raising the quality of social work practice and raising the status of the profession through a new accreditation system providing a clear career path and a new dedicated regulator.

Children’s Mental Health

Ahead of the start of GCSE examinations there has been some coverage of exam stress and children’s mental wellbeing.

There is a lot that schools can do to prepare pupils well to take tests and examinations, and to help parents support their children. Good teaching is one of the most important factors in making sure that pupils feel ready.  Good leaders know that positive mental wellbeing supports attainment, and make that part of the overall school ethos. To support children and schools, the Government has pledged £1.7 billion to help promote, protect and improve children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.

At GCSE level we have removed the incentives for multiple resits that were not helping children’s education, giving pupils at least two full years of study before they sit exams. At A level we have also made the exams linear with no January assessment window, and have created a new structure that will enable students to study for two full years towards an A level without the need to take an AS exam at all.

Finally, we wish all students well who are sitting their SATs, GCSEs and A levels and look forward to celebrating with you in the summer.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Testing and assessment is longstanding part of our education system. It helps us to ensure pupils are being taught the skills and knowledge they need.

We trust schools not to put undue ‎pressure on young people when administering tests or exams and it should never be at the expense of their wellbeing.

It is vital that young people suffering from stress or any mental health ‎issue are able to access support when they need it. That is why we are investing £300million to provide more resources for early intervention in all schools.

Please see our resources for schools and colleges here to support mental health.

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