LSNIt is not only in Arab countries that democracy needs to be nurtured among young citizens for it to flourish - The Learning and Skills Network is one of the founding members of Democratic Life (DL), a coalition of organisations & individuals seeking to strengthen & extend young people’s entitlement to high-quality citizenship learning in England.

Democratic Life aims to highlight citizenship’s unique position in England’s National Curriculum and (of course) beyond into post-16 education & training.  It is the only subject that teaches learners about their rights & responsibilities as citizens – and how they can participate effectively in society – by developing their understanding of politics, democracy, the law and the economy.

The coalition government is currently reviewing the National Curriculum (ends mid April 2011), and DL is urging the government and all parties to support citizenship education so that it remains in the national curriculum and schools continue to improve the teaching of the subject.  With political society & political structures being challenged in the UK and across the world, citizenship education is as important as ever.  

Would you like to join the campaign for DL and make your voice heard? LSN offers a suite of products & services for staff & learners to support citizenship education & skills for democratic participation.
Press release ~ Democratic Life ~ LSN: Post-16 Citizenship Support Programme ~ HoC Education & Skills Committee: Citizenship Education (2007) ~ Citizenship Foundation ~ Teachernet: Citizenship ~ Association of Citizenship teaching ~ Hansard society ~ Islam & Citizenship Education Project ~ CELS ~ Citizenship education in England 2001-2010: young people’s practices and prospects for the future: the eighth and final report from the Citizenship Education Longitudinal Study (CELS) ~ Learning & Teaching Scotland: Global Citizenship ~ Ofsted: Steady progress for citizenship education ~ Professional development for citizenship teachers and leaders ~ Teaching Citizenship in Higher Education ~ National Centre for Citizenship and the Law ~ Citizenship - The National Curriculum for England ~ Diversity and Citizenship Curriculum report ~ Education for Democratic Citizenship website ~ Play your part Post-16 citizenship ~ Institute of Citizenship

NE:  If only Natural England could defeat alien invaders as quickly & effectively as Dr Who - The risks of nearly 600 alien plants threatening to enter England’s fragile ecosystems have been assessed as part of new research, undertaken by Plantlife on behalf of Natural England.  Quick to spread and hard to contain, invasive non-native plants can have a suffocating effect on our native wildlife & countryside and pose a significant threat to biodiversity in Britain.

Often, the environmental damage is irreversible and dealing with problems associated with non-native invasive plants & animals costs the British economy in excess of £1.7bn annually.  By far the best way of tackling the problem is to prevent invasive plants becoming established in the first place.

To help predict which species may pose the greatest threat, NE has supported Plantlife to devise & trial a ‘rapid screening process’ for quickly assigning a broad level of invasive threat to a non-native plant.
Press release ~ Horizon-scanning for invasive non-native plants in Great Britain ~ Plantlife ~ Freshwater Biological Association ~ Planta Europa:  Rapid Risk Assessment ~ CABI - Japanese Knotweed Alliance ~ Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment ~ Cornwall Knotweed Forum ~ GN Non-native Species Secretariat ~ Defra - Non-native species ~ Forest Research - Protecting trees ~ WAG – Biodiversity Partnership ~ UK Biodiversity Action Plan Website ~ A Cost-Benefit analysis of introducing the non-native species signal crayfish ~ European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategy (EPBRS) ~ Forestry Commission Grey Squirrel website ~ Audit of non-native species in England (2005) ~ Biodiversity Scotland website ~ Working with the grain of nature: a biodiversity strategy for England ~ Invasive Non-native Species – Scottish Executive ~ Horticultural Code of Practice ~ JNCC ~ ScotGov: Cost of invasive non-native species ~ EA: Invasive Species ~ Preventing the introduction of non-native species to Antarctica ~ Audit of non-native species in England ~ Business Link: Conservation and biodiversity - an overview ~ Broads Authority Survey ~ Marine Climate Change Impacts partnership

Newswire – WWFTechnology helped cause over-fishing, can it now offer some solutions to the problem? - The UK’s fishermen, backyard inventors, net makers, students & others have been invited to submit entries for the best new fishing gear to reduce bycatch & discards.  WWF’s biennial Smart Gear Competition is offering a grand prize of £18,500 and two £6,000 runner-up prizes

 “The Eliminator” trawl - a winning idea from 2007 designed to reduce the bycatch of cod - is being adopted by the EU as a measure in cod bycatch reduction under certain conditions.  Vessels throughout the U.K. are also using a modified version of the net called the Orkney Trawl with good results.  For more information & instructions on how to enter, visit www.smartgear.org (closes on 31 August 2011).
Press release ~ ScotGov comment ~ Fish discards video ~ Defra’s work to end fish discards ~ Hugh’s Fish Fight ~ ScotGov - Fisheries  ~ Fisheries Research Services - Discards ~ EC - Fisheries ~ BBC: Wasted catches hit Europe's codTelegraph: UK fishing boat filmed dumping 5 tons of fish

IfGEveryone has known about the problem for many years, so isn’t it about time they changed the way they procure IT systems? - The Treasury estimates that Government IT costs approximately £16bn per year.  Despite these vast sums of money, government IT seems locked in a vicious circle of failure

A new report from the Institute for Government's finds that government is struggling to get the basics of IT right and is falling further & further behind the fast-paced & exciting technological environment that citizens interact with daily.  The result of this is £bns in wasted money & time.

System Error: fixing the flaws in government IT argues that government’s approach to IT is fundamentally flawed.  Without a radical re-think in this important and often controversial area of government, £ms of pounds of taxpayers' money and government time is at risk. 

To date the government has adopted an approach to IT that assumes that the world works in a rational & predictable fashion.  Specifications are drawn up in advance, 'solutions' are procured, and then delivery is managed against a pre-determined timetable. The average procurement process alone takes 77 weeks due to the excessively detailed commissioning processes in the UK.

In reality, as was seen in £5bn National Identity Scheme and the £12.7bn NHS National Programme for IT, political priorities change rapidly and technological development is increasingly unpredictable.  The result is repeated system-wide failure

A new dual approach will end long term big business IT contracts that lock government in.  A totally new approach is needed that emphasises adaptability & flexibility, while retaining the benefits of scale & collaboration across government.
Press release ~ System Error: fixing the flaws in government IT ~ What government IT can learn from cycling in London ~ Fixing the Flaws in Government IT (includes links to 3 videos) ~ BCS: The Challenges of Complex IT Projects ~ The Official PRINCE2® website ~ Best Management Practice website ~ Official ITIL® Website ~ OGC Best Practice Tools ~ NAO: Delivering successful IT-enabled business change ~ Chief Information Officer Council ~ OGC Gateway Review process ~ NAO: Improving IT procurement: The impact of the Office of Government Commerce's initiatives on departments and suppliers in the delivery of major IT-enabled projects ~ NSG – Project Management ~ IDEA - Project, programme and change management toolkit ~ Public Accounts Committee: Defence Information Infrastructure ~ PCS press release ~ Full report - Assurance for high risk projects ~ Major Project Review Group ~ NAO: Commercial skills for complex government projects ~ OGC’s skills strategy ‘Building the procurement profession in government’ ~ Senior Responsible Owners ~ Value For Money in public sector corporate services - A joint project by the UK Public Sector Audit Agencies ~ NAO: The National Offender Management Information System

OfstedYet again ‘Leadership’ and ‘Communication’ are key factors in success - Ofsted has published Outstanding children’s homes - a report highlighting 12 homes that have excelled in helping improve the lives of children & young people in their care.  The children’s homes selected represent the broad & diverse types of provision across the country.  

What makes them exceptional is their consistently outstanding performance.  Of the 1,439 homes inspected, only 35 succeeded in being judged outstanding at each inspection for 3 consecutive years.

A characteristic that unites these homes is their highly effective leadership.  Managers are visible, inclusive and interact frequently with staff & young people alike.  Leaders of these homes have a vision & purpose which is shared & supported by staff.

The defining hallmark of quality was the importance placed on the experience and feedback of children & young people who live in the homes.  One manager said: ‘Young people are our most important inspectors’.  As a young person put it: ‘Staff always ask young people about their views on life in the home.  We are always being consulted about all sorts of things - trips, visits, holidays’.
Press release ~ Ofsted: Outstanding children’s homes ~ Developing leadership: National Support Schools ~ Twelve outstanding special schools - Excelling through inclusion ~ Twelve outstanding secondary schools - Excelling against the odds ~ Twenty outstanding primary schools - Excelling against the odds ~ NSG: Whole Systems Go!: Improving leadership across the whole public service system ~ Change You Can Believe In: The Leadership of Innovation ~  Ofsted: Children’s messages to the Minister report ~ Office of the Children’s Rights Director ~ Support for care leavers ~ DfE related reports ~ Frank Buttle Trust Quality Mark ~ Carelaw : A guide for young people in care ~ ScotGov: Looked After Children and Young People: We Can and Must Do Better ~ Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) reports ~  Childline information sheet  ~ Ofsted: Care and prejudice ~ Future rules ~ Parents on Council Care ~  Ofsted – Children’s Rights (and others - scroll down) ~ Ofsted: Looked after children: good practice in schools ~  Care Matters - Transforming the Lives of Children and Young People in Care ~ JRF: Barriers to change in the social care of children ~ Children on the edge of care: Human rights and the Children Act ~  Reuniting looked after children with their families ~ Resilience and young people leaving care ~ Mentoring for young people leaving care  ~ Leavingcare.org ~ NCAS Briefing paper ~ These Are Our Bairns ~ Report analysing responses to the first consultation on Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2008 ~ Keeping in touch ~ Children on Family Justice Report

EU News:  If the ruling extended to Holiday insurance it could make the EU popular with an ever increasing pool of ‘Grey Voters’ - The Court of Justice of the European Union last week delivered its ruling in the Test-Achats case (C-236/09) concerning sex discrimination in insurance premiums.  

This means that the EU’s Court of Justice has ruled that different insurance premiums for women & men constitute sex discrimination and are not compatible with the EU's Charter of Fundamental Rights.  Member States are not allowed to derogate from this important principle in their national legislation.  The relevant ‘opt out’ clause in the
Council's 2004 Directive on gender equality is thus illegal.

The European Commission issued a 'fundamental rights checklist' in October 2010 to make sure that all laws proposed comply with the EU Charter (see IP/10/1348), thus ensuring that ‘EU rules are beyond any reproach’.

So what happens next?  The EC will now carefully examine the implications of the Court's decision for the EU's law on equal access to goods & services for women & men, as well as for the insurance sector & consumers. A meeting will be convened with business leaders from the insurance industry in the coming months to discuss the judgement’s implications.
Press release ~ Commissioner Reding's video message on the outcome of the ruling ~ Excerpts from the ”Study on the use of age, disability, sex, religion or belief, racial or ethnic origin and sexual orientation in financial services, in particular in the insurance and banking sectors" ~ TUC comment ~ PwC comment ~ Additional PwC comment - pensions

Forthcoming White Paper: Cyber Space Security – Free Public Sector Guide to Advanced Persistent Threats (APT’s) - The security of cyberspace becomes ever more critical to the health of the nation. Government and military networks have been at risk from targeted attacks for years, but these attacks now also threaten less well‐secured public sector entities.

The internet provides enormous benefits and opportunities for the UK’s government and public sector but as our reliance on it grows, so do the risks and threats we face online. These threats and opportunities are likely to increase significantly over the next five to ten years, as our dependency on cyber space deepens.

Imperva, leading data security solutions providers to government and the public sector, will be presenting their ‘CISO’s Guide to Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) and Industrialisation of Hacking’ at the forthcoming ‘Working Together to Improve UK Cyber Security’ event in London on Wednesday 23rd March 2011.
If you can’t attend, simply click here to reserve your free copy of the guide and receive further white papers from Imperva.

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