Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at the home learning environment summit, special education needs and disability (SEND) funding and children in care.
Home Learning summit
Yesterday, Sunday 11 November, the Department trailed news of the Home Learning Environment summit, which is set to take place on Wednesday 14 November.
The summit will bring together businesses, the media and tech companies – such as the National Literacy Trust, Save the Children and LEGO – to build a coalition of supporters to explore opportunities to help parents with early learning at home.
This was reported widely in the media by the Mail on Sunday (p4), The Observer (p15), Sunday Express (p19), The Sunday Times (p13), The Sunday Telegraph (p10) and the Sun (p15).
Ahead of the summit, Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
“As the vast majority of children’s time is spent at home, we need to think about how we support parents with learning in the home environment. This could be seen as the last taboo in education, and certainly, no one wants to be lecturing parents.
“But it is a persistent scandal that too many children are starting school unable to communicate effectively, and we know that what happens at home makes a big difference in that.
“Working with businesses and organisations we are looking to support parents with practical help and advice. This includes the development of a set of easy, everyday activities for all families, from playing with numbers to songs and poems, in order to support children’s development.
“As a parent, I’m also conscious that while we think about screen time limits for children, we find it harder to limit it for ourselves – but that one-to-one time without gadgets getting in the way is so valuable.
“The pressures of work and the modern world mean putting phones away is far from easy but I think it’s an important area to talk about, particularly as we consider ways to support parents with children’s learning at home.
“This doesn’t mean technology is the villain of the piece - indeed, if used well it can actively support a child’s learning. Technology is something we must harness to use in our mission to improve communication skills, not be something that gets in the way.”
Special Education Needs and Disability funding
On Sunday (11 November), the Observer (p1) reported that councils’ overspend on special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) has trebled in three years.
Funding for pupils with special education needs and disability funding in 2018-19 is the highest on record, £6 billion. This is up from £5 billion in 2013.
The government allocates funding to local authorities and then the local authority decides how they distribute it in their area – as they are best placed to judge local needs.
Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:
“Our ambition for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is exactly the same for every other child – to achieve well in school and college, find employment and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives. We have introduced Education Health and Care plans, putting families at the heart of the process and providing support tailored to individual needs.
“Local authorities and schools have statutory duties to support children and young people with SEND. In 2018-19 councils will receive £6 billion of funding specifically for children with complex special educational needs and disabilities, up from £5 billion in 2013. However, we recognise that local authorities are facing cost pressures on high needs. I assure you that we are monitoring local authority spending decisions in this area and are keeping the overall level of funding under review.”
Yesterday, Sunday 11 November, the Observer (p7) reported more than half of private nurseries have increased their fees in the past year.
The childcare market is a mixed economy and different providers have different business models and fee structures.
We have been supporting all parents with the cost of childcare by introducing 15 hours and 30 hours free childcare. By 2020, we will have invested around £6 billion a year on childcare support. This includes around £3.5 billion which we plan to spend this year alone on all our free early education offers.
Our Provider Survey showed that the majority of providers with 3-4 year-olds are offering 30 hours and the independent evaluation of its first year also showed that it’s making a real difference to family life – with 78% parents reporting they had more money to spend.
Minister for Children and Families Nadhim Zahawi said:
“This Government is doing more than any before to support parents with the cost of childcare. We are investing record amounts – around £6 billion a year on childcare support by 2020. This includes around £3.5 billion which we plan to spend this year alone on all our free early education offers – to make sure as many children as possible have access to high-quality care.
“Our Providers Survey shows that the majority of providers with 3-4 year-olds are offering 30 hours and the independent evaluation of its first year also showed that it’s making a real difference to family life – with 78% parents reporting they had more money to spend.
“We want to support all families which is why parents of three-and-four-year-olds and the most disadvantaged 2 year olds are able to access 15 hours of free early education a week. Over 700,000 children have benefited from the 2 year old entitlement since its introduction in 2013.”