Our blog today focuses on a call for councils to review their adoption processes, clarifying coverage in the Times about the role of judges and social workers, and looks at a record number of Oxford University offers for state-funded school pupils.
Today, Thursday 16 January, the Education Secretary has called on councils to prioritise adoption, in response to a drop in social worker assessments recommending adoption as the best option for a child in care. This has been reported by Sky, the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Times.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
Adoption can transform the lives of children waiting in care for a permanent, loving home. I applaud the hard work and commitment of the social workers who dedicate themselves to giving children the kind of home environment that many of us take for granted and urge them not to shy away from putting children forward for adoption.
If adoptive parents can offer love, care and a stable home, and if councils think it is in the best interest of the child, I will back them 100 per cent in recommending adoption.
In a letter to every council in England from Children’s Minister Michelle Donelan, she calls on them to review their adoption processes to make sure frontline staff understand the law so that no prospective adoptive parents are wrongly turned down for reasons of age, income, sexual orientation or marital status.
The Times article suggests that judges and social workers are to blame for the fall in adoptions, in reference to a High Court ruling in 2013 asking social workers to consider alternatives before beginning adoption proceedings.
Courts are independent of government, and judges make adoption decisions based on the merits of each case. What the Minister’s letter to councils sets out is a concern that where applications for adoption are refused by the courts, this has resulted in reluctance among some social workers to pursue adoption for other children, even where they believe it to be the right option.
The advice published by the government today clarifies the legal position so that social workers are able to make the best, most effective, decisions.
More than 69% of undergraduate offers to study at Oxford University have been made to pupils attending state schools – up 4.6% from last year, the best percentage increase the University has ever seen.
Schools Minister Lord Agnew said:
I’m thrilled to see so many pupils from state-funded schools receiving offers from prestigious universities. Free schools and academies are having a significant impact in levelling the playing field so that pupils from all backgrounds have the same opportunity to get an education that will help them achieve incredible things.
Congratulations to these pupils whose hard work and dedication are now paying off and to their teachers who have empowered them to do so well.