DCSFSome Sin Bins to be binned - The government has announced plans for a major overhaul of how some of society's most troubled & challenging young people are educated and how poor behaviour can be tackled at a much earlier stage. 

Around two thirds of excluded youngsters have a special educational need and the new White Paper (consultation period ends on 25 July 2008) is meant to ensure they receive the support they need to turn around their behaviour and get their learning back on track (Currently only 1% of pupils educated in alternative settings will get five ‘good’ GCSEs).

The new plans include:
* closing the poorest performing Pupil Referral Units (PRUs)
* encouraging more use of innovative private & voluntary sector providers
* publishing performance data for both alternative education providers and for local authorities, and
* a new emphasis on early intervention to prevent the need for exclusion

To improve the quality in alternative provision, the Department for Children, Schools and Families will also gather together a good practice guide that will be issued in the summer term.  There are currently 70,000 pupils in alternative settings at any one time of which 75% have a special educational need.
Press release ~ White Paper: Back on Track  -  A strategy for modernising alternative provision for young people ~ Practical guidance on accommodation and design for PRUs, with case studies of good practice ~ Learning Behaviour: The Report of the Practitioners’ Group on School Behaviour and Discipline ~ Behaviour Improvement Programme (BIP) website ~ Pupil Referral Units ~ Learning Support Units ~ Learning mentors ~ Safer Schools Partnership ~ Behaviour Online ~ Establishing successful practice in pupil referral units and local authorities ~ DfES, Exclusions & Alternative Provision - Pupil Referral Units ~ PRU – legal aspects ~ Improving Behaviour and Attendance: Guidance on Exclusion from Schools and Pupil Referral Units ~ National Organisation for Pupil Referral Units

Newswire - CCJSMore evidence of poor government investment strategy - The government's wide ranging youth justice reforms have had no measurable impact on levels self-reported youth offending, according to an independent audit published by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King's College London.  The report says that despite substantial investment in radically restructuring & expanding the youth justice system success has been far more mixed & ambiguous than the government says and claims of significant success are overstated.

Ten years of Labour's youth justice reforms: an independent audit looks at spending levels on youth justice and the performance against a range of key targets, including youth crime levels, first time entrants to the youth justice system, the time from arrest to sentence, the use of custody and re-offending rates.  It highlights that far more children have been criminalised and imprisoned and that youth offending teams have struggled to meet the multiple social needs behind their offending.

It also considers progress on meeting the social and personal needs of children and young people in the youth justice system including, accommodation; education, training and employment; substance misuse and mental health.

Nearly all the targets set relating to each area of need have not been met.  This suggests that the multi agency make up of YOTs is not necessarily working as well as was hoped and are not necessarily as impressive as is often claimed.  There are also significant reasons for questioning the value of the targets in providing a meaningful assessment of progress.
Press release ~ Ten years of Labour's youth justice reforms: an independent audit ~ Ten years of criminal justice under Labour: An independent audit ~ Youth Justice Board (YJB) ~ Youth offending teams (YOTs) ~ Youth Justice & Criminal Evidence Act 1999 ~ Every Child Matters – Youth Justice ~ ScotGov – Youth Justice ~ National Association for Youth Justice ~ Home Office – Youth Crime ~ YJANI – Youth Justice ~ Youth Crime, Youth Justice and the Prevention of Criminality 

Defra:  Googling to save the world - Millions of Google Earth users around the world will be able to see how climate change could affect the planet and its people over the next century, along with viewing the loss of Antarctic ice shelves over the last 50 years, thanks to a new project launched by Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the recent Google Zeitgeist conference.

The project, Climate Change in Our World, is the product of a collaboration between Google, the UK Government, the Met Office Hadley Centre and the British Antarctic Survey to provide two new 'layers', or animations, available to all users of Google Earth.

One animation uses world leading climate science from the UK's Met Office Hadley Centre to show world temperatures throughout the next hundred years under medium projections of greenhouse gas emissions, along with stories of how people in the UK and in some of the world's poorest countries are already being affected by changing weather patterns.

Another animation, developed by the British Antarctic Survey, show the retreat of Antarctic ice caps since the 1950s and features facts about climate change science and impacts in the Antarctic.
Press release ~ Google Earth: Climate Change In Our World Layers ~ DFID - Global Earth ~ Footage of Antarctic scenery and science in action ~ Met Office Hadley Centre ~ British Antarctic Centre ~ Building a Low Carbon Economy: Unlocking Environmental Innovation and Skills (executive summary) ~ Climate Change Bill ~ International Carbon Action Partnership (ICAP) ~ Arctic Climate Impact Science - An Update Since ACIA ~ WWF - Arctic environment and conservation ~ Arctic Council ~ IASC - the International Arctic Science Committee ~ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change ~ Defra – Global warming research projects

CLGEven fewer job opportunities for white males without higher academic qualifications? - Fire Minister Parmjit Dhanda has announced a new national Equality and Diversity Strategy for the Fire and Rescue Services (F&RS).  The government claims that F&RSs which better represent the diversity of their local population are better equipped to reach those most at risk, driving down the number of fires & incidents, and helping to ensure that all communities are fully aware of fire safety and what they should do if an incident occurs.

Currently just 3.2% of staff are from a minority ethnic background, and just 3.1% of firefighters are women; there is only one female chief fire officer, and none from minority ethnic communities.  In the police, 5% are now from a minority ethnic background and more than 20% are women. All 46 local fire and rescue services will now have a target to ensure that at least 15% of new firefighting recruits are women and that the number of minority ethnic recruits overall reflects the local working population by 2013. 

Each service will set out an annual action plan with practical steps to improve recruitment.  A new National Strategy also requires each fire chief to take action that leads to real progress, contributing details of what they have achieved to an annual report, published by the Government.
Press release ~ Equality and Diversity Strategy ~ Firefighter Survey ~ National Framework 2008 -2011 ~ Audit Commission: Making equality and diversity a reality ~ Chief Fire Officers Association ~ Recruitment Toolkit ~ Equal opportunities and diversity in the fire and rescue service

NAO:  Why start without common set of Business Processes? - Plans to increase the efficiency & effectiveness of services such as human resources, payroll & finance could cost the Department for Transport £81m (by March 2015) rather than saving £57m as originally expected.  According the recent National Audit Office report to Parliament, changes to initial cost estimates, inadequate contract management and poor initial implementation mean that the Programme, as originally envisaged, will not achieve value for money.

The Department envisaged building on existing processes and IT systems as the basis for developing shared services for the whole Department.  In practice, the Department could not agree a common set of business processes and the initial estimates proved optimistic.  Supplier relations could have been better and inadequate testing of the system led to an unstable IT system being introduced.
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