Ofsted: Despite all the extra funding, still room for improvement - Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills, Christine Gilbert, has called for renewed efforts to narrow the gap and improve the care & education of children and young people who have the odds stacked against them.

In her annual state of the nation address she said that not enough was being done to raise achievement & aspirations, particularly for children in public care - but that there was evidence that the gap can be narrowed.

Her first annual report for the new Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) finds a broadly positive picture across education, child care and adult skills. It highlights that, with good provision & support, disadvantaged children can make good progress, but warns that the relationship between poverty & outcomes for young people is stark.

Christine Gilbert said: "Whilst it is encouraging to see an increasing trend in the number of good and outstanding schools, the proportion of schools - 5% of primary and 10% of secondary - in which provision is inadequate continues to be a significant concern.

In many of these schools pupils progress is hampered by poor basic skills in literacy and numeracy. It cannot be right that 20% of pupils leave primary school without a solid foundation in literacy and numeracy".
Ofsted press release ~ DCSF press release ~ TDA press release ~ The Annual Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Schools 2006/07 ~ Annual Report microsite ~ Outstanding providers 2006/07 ~ Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) ~ Looked -after children - Every Child Matters ~ Children leaving care - Every Child Matters ~ White Paper: Care Matters: Time for Change ~ Educational achievement of looked-after children - ECM ~ DfES: Looked-after children: the struggle for stability ~ Narrowing the gap: the inspection of children’s services ~ Frank Buttle Trust Quality Mark ~ BBC News - 'Education gap' of care children ~ Impact of inspections ~ Ofsted: Developing social, emotional and behavioural skills in secondary schools ~ Principles into Practice ~ Ofsted: Attendance in secondary schools ~ Independent Study into School Leadership (2.8Mb) ~ National College of School Leadership ~ TDA - Training and Development Agency for Schools

CLG: Banishing the ghost of Rackman - Housing Minister Yvette Cooper has announced a new social housing watchdog that will crack down on registered social landlords in England who are giving tenants a poor service, such as long waits for repairs. The new watchdog is the key recommendation accepted by the Government from the Cave Review of Social Housing in June.

The Office for Tenants and Social Landlords (which will replace the role currently played by the Housing Corporation) is being established as an independent, standalone body and it will have the powers to back up tenants of Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) when they report poor service.

Under the new system tenants' groups will be able to alert the regulator to poor service; the regulator will then have the authority to impose a range of penalties & sanctions on failing social landlords, including the power to trigger a change of management and to help ensure tenants receive a good service.

The Government has also announced that an independently chaired advisory panel will carry out further work with stakeholders in order to bring local authorities under the scope of the watchdog within two years of it coming into operation.
Press release ~ Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) ~ Housing Corporation ~ Homes and Communities Agency ~ Cave Review: Every Tenant Matters: a review of social housing regulation ~ Empowering Communities - Tenant's guides ~ CLG: Managing housing and support services

DIUS: Does this mean it’s not my fault? - The technological revolution of the 20th century has led to weight gain becoming inevitable for most people, because our bodies and biological make-up are out of step with our surroundings, says the latest report from Foresight, the Government's ‘futures’ think-tank.

The study found that obesity has many causes and is a much more passive phenomenon than is often assumed. Our basic biological instincts combined with our modern environment means that we're destined to put on weight. The research found that the problem of obesity will take at least 30 years to reverse.

Foresight's diverse evidence shows that only a comprehensive long term strategy will have an impact on the rising trends of obesity. Preventing obesity requires major change - in the environment and in behaviour; in organisations as well as in communities, families and individuals.

As part of the CSR announcement the Government signalled a new long-term ambition to tackle obesity across the population as part of the new Child health PSA to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people.

The government claims that its initial focus will be on children: By 2020, they aim to reduce the proportion of overweight and obese children to 2000 levels.
Press release ~ Tackling Obesities: Future Choices' Foresight project ~ Online toolkit: Lightening the Load: tackling overweight and obesity ~ DH - Obesity ~ Obesity guidance for healthy schools co-ordinators and their partners ~ Measuring childhood obesity: Guidance to primary care trusts ~ Obesity Care Pathway and Your Weight, Your Health ~ Teen Life Check ~ Teenage Health Freak website ~ NICE Obesity guidelines ~ Healthy Schools Programme ~ Local Exercise Action Pilot ~ Weight Wise ~ Small change, big difference ~ Forecasting Obesity to 2010' ~ Health Survey for England: Obesity among children under 11 ~ Tackling Childhood Obesity–First Steps Full Report ~ NAO – Tackling obesity in England ~ DH – Healthy Living website ~ National Obesity Forum ~ Association for the Study of obesity ~ TOAST – The Obesity Awareness & Solutions Trust ~ Food Standards Agency ~ Measuring childhood obesity: Guidance for PCTs ~ Management of Obesity in Children and young people guide

PHSO: If only our politicians had some principles - In her new Principles for Remedy, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, Ann Abraham, sets out the principles she believes public bodies should use when considering remedies for injustice or hardship resulting from maladministration or poor service, using the same generic headings as in her Principles of Good Administration, published earlier this year.

The Principles accord with HM Treasury's guidelines on remedy as set out in Managing Public Money and will be reflected in the next edition of the NHS Finance Manual.

Ms Abraham said: “We want public bodies to be fair and take responsibility, acknowledge failures and apologise for them, make amends, and use the opportunity to improve their services. We are keen to discuss with those involved in public services how these Principles can best be put into practice”.
Press release ~ Principles for Remedy ~ European Ombudsman ~ Principles of Good Administration ~ NHS Finance Manual ~ HM Treasury's guideline: Managing Public Money

Home Office: But most immigrants come from EU member countries, don't they? - The Immigration Minister, Liam Byrne, has pledged a 'new balance in migration policy' during a speech to public servants in Essex, which set out a 12-month programme of ‘sweeping changes’ to Britain's immigration systems and strategy.

Mr Byrne said: "In 12 months time our immigration system will have changed out of all recognition. From next year, a points-based system, modelled on the success of Australia, will ensure that only people Britain needs can come here to work and study. Three quarters of the World's population will need fingerprint visas ….. and we'll start to count people in and out of the country. ID cards for foreign nationals will start to make sure that migrants can prove who they are, and help us safeguard access to work and benefits.

We will attack the root cause of illegal journeys, which is illegal jobs, with big new fast-track fines for employers turning a blind eye or breaking the rules. Those who sponsor migrants to come to Britain will need a licence to do so”.

In addition the Home Office has published a cross Government report on the fiscal & economic impact of migration, which the Home Office will use to inform a cabinet decision on how long to continue restrictions on Bulgaria and Romania and in due course a points based system.
Press release ~ Migration Impacts Forum (MIF) ~ The Economic and Fiscal Impact of Immigration ~ Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) ~ A points based system ~ Borders, immigration and identity action plan

DCSF: They deserve a chance in life - Schools Minister Andrew Adonis has launched a programme to maximise the potential of children with special educational needs and support schools & early years settings in managing their needs.

The Inclusion Development Programme (IDP) is a £2m project of confidence-raising training for teachers, support staff and early years practitioners, developed in partnership with children's communication charity I CAN and Dyslexia Action. It is intended to improve the skills of teachers by advising them on how to develop teaching strategies for children with special educational needs (SEN) and providing guidance on dealing with common classroom challenges.

The training materials will initially focus on speech, language and communication needs and dyslexia. Over the next four years training on autistic spectrum disorders, behavioural issues and moderate learning difficulties will be added.

Information on the materials, including an interactive DVD & web based resources to support leadership and individual teacher/practitioner professional development, will be available from the National Strategies from December.
Press release ~ I CAN ~ Dyslexia Action ~ The Communication Trust ~ No To Failure Project (NTF) ~ British Dyslexic Association ~ Dyslexia Parents Resource ~ Training and Development Agency for Schools (TDA) ~ SEN Code of Practice ~ Education and Skills Select Committee report on Special Educational Needs (SEN) ~ National Strategies ~ Bercow review ~ Aiming High for Disabled Children: Better Support for Families ~ Council for Disabled Children ~ Special Educational Consortium ~ National Parent Partnership Network ~ Special educational needs (SEN) - Parents Centre ~ National Association for Special educational needs

Forthcoming Event:
The summer is finally over (having been delayed by a couple of months) and many organisations are in the middle of the budgeting process for 2008/09, but for many Public and Third Sector Organisations (PSOs) in the Midlands and North it is a time of ‘dread’ as they face the prospect of yet more boring trips to London to visit various exhibitions, as part of the process of costing up various options.

However, this year can be different as a warm welcome awaits you at Business North West 2007 - 21/11/2007 to 22/11/2007 – at Manchester Central (formerly G-Mex).

This unique event provides public sector visitors with a central point for sourcing information, advice & inspiration and an opportunity to find new suppliers & concepts through an extensive exhibition and seminar programme.

Councils in the North West are spending the equivalent of £900 a year for every man woman & child on buying goods and services. NWCE has even launched a major drive to investigate the way councils invest £6.5bn annually on Third Party Spend.

Of course, councils are not just customers for goods & services; they are also major employers within their own right. With this in mind, incorporated within Business North West is an innovative seminar programme covering off key management issues from tackling sickness and absenteeism, to internet and email security, to improved environmental performance.

It’s not all business and for something ‘lighter’, the impressive list of speakers includes rogue trader Nick Leeson whose risk-taking caused the biggest financial scandal of the century. He will talk frankly about his extraordinary life story and the lessons learnt.

If you still need convincing, then consider how the sourcing of local suppliers can help reduce the UK’s carbon footprint and, as a local client you will probably get more support and speedier access to services.
Full details ~ Business North West ~ North West Centre of Excellence ~ North West Development Agency ~ Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce ~ Manchester City Council ~ Business Ideas competition ~ Manchester: Knowledge Capital ~ The University of Manchester Incubator Company (UMIC)

For information on other forthcoming public sector events please click HERE to visit the WGPlus Events Calendar

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