Celebrities and politicians from across the spectrum have come out in support of Marcus Rashford’s campaign to end child hunger in England, a day after the government voted against extending free school meals to disadvantaged children during the holidays. The flood of social media support for Rashford’s campaign came as Caroline Ansell, a Conservative MP who defied her party to support Labour’s vote for free school meals during school holidays, resigned from her government post. Read more in The Guardian.
In her Guardian column, Gaby Hinsliff writes that although Boris Johnson should backtrack on the free school meals issue, the damage to his party has already been done, describing attacks on Marcus Rashford and his campaign by some backbenchers as a spectacular own goal. “Feeding kids through the winter holidays would only have cost £20m: peanuts in public spending terms; piddling compared with subsidising fancy restaurant meals via the “eat out to help out” scheme.”
A new NHS report on mental health showing that lockdown has led to a 50% rise in children with mental health problems is widely covered today, including in the Daily Telegraph and BBC. The research with more than 3,000 families found one in six children were likely to be suffering mental health problems – up from one in nine three years ago. Experts said the statistics were "alarming", showing widespread anxiety among a generation whose lives had been blighted by lockdown. Children were more likely to be suffering from a range of problems including anxiety, depression and phobias.
Early years practitioners are being urged to have their say on the development of alternative guidance to support the revised EYFS statutory framework, following criticism of the document published by the Department for Education in September. The revised Development Matters guidance has been criticised by some in the sector for presenting a ‘narrow and limited view of how children learn and develop’ and for having a focus on Reception children. An online survey has been launched by the Early Years Coalition (EYC), a group of sector representative bodies, to find what practitioners want from non-statutory guidance. Read more in Nursery World.
Vulnerable children arriving in Britain after crossing the Channel are being “betrayed” by a series of failings by the authorities, including sending under-18s to adult detention centres, reports The Independent. A damning report by HM Prison Inspectorate today reveals children arriving on small boats, some as young as 12, are being placed in hotels without proper supervision. Nick Thomas-Symonds, the shadow home secretary, accused ministers of “failing on every level” in their protection of child refugees, while legal experts warned that some of the practices were unlawful.
Children detained in hospital mental health wards during lockdown struggled to access family therapy and advocacy support, the children’s commissioner for England has warned. Children’s commissioner Anne Longfield says visits to children on mental health wards from outside professionals, such as therapy and advocacy, have “dropped alarmingly”. While some of these services have adapted to working remotely, to adhere to social distancing guidelines, “online support will often not be an adequate substitute for engaging with children experiencing severe difficulties”, said Longfield. Read more in Children & Young People Now.
Four in five local authorities have reported a rise in weekly foster and residential placement costs due to Covid-19, a Department for Education survey has found. The increases, which have been reported by 80% of councils since May, have been driven by factors including requests for fee hikes from residential care providers, the increased cost of foster care support packages during lockdown, increased placements costs for children with additional needs and fewer placements ending during this time. Read more in Community Care.
Nursery World reports that a free online course to support children’s mental health and wellbeing has been launched by the Open University. The eight-week course, which focuses on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of young children from birth to eight years, is aimed at adults who have an interest, professionally or personally, in the care and education of young children. It covers a global view of children’s mental health and wellbeing, whereby an estimated 10 per cent of children suffer from mental health problems. Dr Jackie Musgrave, programme lead for early childhood and education studies at the Open University said, ‘The course draws on the expertise of professionals who work with young children, including counsellors and psychotherapists and the content has been reviewed by professionals working within the field.”