DCSF: Some 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.
Newswire - CCJS: More 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.
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.
CLG: Even 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.