Coram Family and Childcare published a new report, co-authored with Frontier Economics and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, which looks at the support local authorities have provided the childcare sector through the pandemic. It reveals local authorities' concerns about the future of the sector, particularly around the shortage of childcare places for older children, and also finds notable local variations, with some local authorities providing considerable financial assistance and others reporting no additional spending. The findings have been reported in Children & Young People Now, Local Gov News and Nursery World.
Women with babies and very young children were among 56 migrants held in a cramped room covered with thin mattresses at a unit in Dover, MPs say. Members of the home affairs committee have expressed their shock and serious concern after observing the scenes during a visit in Kent this week. They said it was "wholly inappropriate" and a clear Covid risk, with some migrants held beyond legal limits. Coram is among the group of charities who have written to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson to say the accommodation is completely inappropriate and its use may be unlawful. Read more on BBC News and in The Times.
The 12 directors of children’s services in the north-east of England have warned that “shameful” levels of poverty in the region are driving dramatic rises in child protection intervention and the number of children in care. Since 2009, the region has seen a 77% increase in its care population. Inner London has seen a 25% reduction over the same period. The directors call for a “radical rethink” of how to provide safe and loving homes for children who cannot live with their birth family. They have called for the “dysfunctional market” for children’s residential care to be dismantled. Read more in the Guardian.
A committee of MPs is calling for a national register of home-educated children in England, saying there is an "unacceptable level of opaqueness" surrounding the issue. It says more data must be collected to ensure all children out of school get a suitable education. Committee chair, Conservative MP Robert Halfon, said it was "frankly astonishing" that the government was only able to make a "best guess" over the standard of education children schooled at home were receiving. According to research by the BBC, published earlier this month, the number of children registering for home education in the UK rose by 75% in the first eight months of the current school year. Read more in the BBC.
Nearly three-quarters of secondary schools in England are offering activities and catch-up classes for children this summer, according to figures announced as part of a £200m scheme supported by the DfE. But Labour and school leaders said the summer scheme and other elements of the government’s catch-up programme were inadequate to deal with the scale of the problem. Kate Green, shadow education secretary, accused ministers of showing “a staggering lack of ambition for our children’s futures”, criticising the scheme for the small numbers of children involved. “More children are leaving school without any catch-up support than will attend a summer school this year, providing yet more evidence of the Conservatives’ failure to deliver on their promises on children’s recovery." Read more in the Guardian.
Parents of pupils in private schools or living in affluent areas of England were the most likely to put pressure on teachers over exam grades, suggests research from the Sutton Trust. Almost a quarter of private school teachers had been contacted by parents over A-level and GCSE grades, twice as many as in schools in deprived areas. There was also a social gap between state schools, with 17% of teachers in better-off areas facing pressure from parents, compared with 11% in disadvantaged areas. However, Geoff Barton, leader of the ASCL head teachers' union reassured students that grades were based on objective evidence - "rather than whose parents have the sharpest elbows". Read more in the BBC.
At least one in seven children are being pressured into pleading guilty to offences when they are innocent, a ground-breaking study has found. The Exeter University research found children under 18 were pleading guilty to avoid heavier punishments, because of pressure from parents or friends, or simply to avoid further time in custody. Lawyers questioned by researchers estimated that 15 per cent of children who pleaded guilty were actually innocent, although some suggested the figure could be as high as 60 per cent. The data suggests more than 1,500 – and potentially 3,000 – children are pleading guilty every year when they are innocent of offences. It means they can be left with an offence record that can limit their job chances through criminal record checks and be referred in any future court proceedings. Read more in The Telegraph.
In The Times, Sarah Jones calls on ministers to take action to protect children from the rise in countylines drug dealing. She argues that government cuts are making it harder for local authorities and agencies to share information on vulnerable children as they move through the care system or across borders. She writes: “The government’s failure to tackle criminal drug gangs and the rise in hard drug use is leaving communities exposed. We need a new approach. This must involve greater collaboration between police and other agencies to work together to stop young people being groomed into county lines, and greater sentencing tools to crack down on the criminal gangs who exploit our children.”