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Education in the Media: Monday 10 December 2018

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Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at the Selective School Expansion Fund, our new report on child protection, and the latest guidance on safe out-of-school settings.

Selective School Expansion Fund

Today, Monday 10 December, the Labour party issued a press release based on an analysis of the Selective School Expansion Fund (SSEF). This analysis fails to comprehend the aim of the scheme.

The Labour analysis notes the current figures for disadvantaged pupils currently studying at the 16 schools, which were successful in applying for the fund. However, the point of the initiative is that by applying to the SSEF, these schools have set out plans for how they aim to increase their intake of disadvantaged pupils in the future, with new ideas and measures, such as lowering pass marks for pupil premium pupils.

Not only have these schools committed to make ongoing changes in their structure, but also to do more work with schools in their local areas, which will have a positive impact on the wider community.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

This analysis completely misses the point of the Selective School Expansion fund, which compelled all schools wishing to bid for it to demonstrate how they will do more to increase access for disadvantaged pupils.

All 16 of the successful schools will be making changes to admission arrangements to increase access for disadvantaged children, with over half of the schools committing to lowering the mark required to pass the entrance test for pupil premium pupils. As a result, countless more children from disadvantaged backgrounds will benefit from places at outstanding schools.

Child Protection

Today, Monday 10 December, we have released an interim report on the findings from our Children in Need call for evidence, along with new data and analysis. This review will help identify the most effective ways for schools and social care to tackle the barriers faced by some of the most vulnerable children.

New data published today shows that one in 10 state school pupils have had a social worker in the last six years – and we know that when a child’s home life is unstable or chaotic, that can have a lasting impact on their education and their later life. That’s why we are setting out measures for leaders and professionals to put into practice in order to improve outcomes for these children, including training to recognise the impact of trauma and adversity on a child’s behaviour and advice on how to adapt how they work with these young people.

The report also calls for inclusive whole-school approaches to promote educational outcomes, as well as effective multi-agency working and information sharing both between agencies and in schools.

On Friday 23 November the Secretary of State visited a school in Leeds to hear about its practice on helping children in need of help and protection, through multi-agency working across social workers and schools.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

It’s a measure of a good society how we treat children who are most in need of our support. If we truly aspire for all children to succeed, whatever their background, we cannot ignore the stark reality of the poorer outcomes for this group of children who have already been through more than we would want our own children to experience.

There is no reason why we should have a lower aspiration for a child in need of help or protection than we do for their peers. Whether it is making sure a child has a consistent and trusted member of staff or taking the time to speak to a child the morning after they have witnessed domestic abuse, I hope this practical advice can help those leaders in schools and social care, alongside our hardworking teachers and social workers, understand how we can collectively do to more to support these children. Together, we can help them have greater opportunities to fulfil their potential.

Out-of-School Settings

Yesterday, Sunday 9 December, the Sunday Express published an article reflecting misleading criticisms of the department’s new voluntary code of practice for out-of-school settings providers, on which we are currently consulting.

The article reported on concerns that the code will lead to the Government imposing greater regulation on out-of-school settings, including Ofsted inspections. This is not the case.

The code is voluntary, and is designed to help providers understand how they can make their setting a safe environment for the children attending it. It provides guidance for settings in relation to a wide range of issues, including safeguarding, online safety and suitability of staff.

School Systems Minister, Lord Agnew, said:

The overwhelming majority of out-of-school settings, from Scouts to dance classes to holiday clubs, offer strong provision in a safe environment. For young people involved it can broaden their experiences and unlock their potential.

I remain concerned, however, about the small minority of settings that may be putting children at risk of harm, or encouraging views that are extremist or dangerous. I hope this guidance will help parents and provide reassurance about the places they are sending their children. It will also help the settings themselves understand what good practice looks like.

You can read more about the guidance here.

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