Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at the Children’s Commissioner report into children in care and basic skills.
Children’s Commissioner report
Today, Friday 1 June, several outlets have covered an annual report from Anne Longfield, the Children’s Commissioner for England, which tracks the experiences of children in care. The report and Anne Longfield’s comments have been covered by R4 Today, BBC Breakfast, The Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Independent, The Sun and Metro.
Children in care are some of the most vulnerable people in society and we are clear that their best interests should always be at the centre of all decisions made.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
Children in care are some of the most vulnerable in society and it is important that we provide them with stability and support so they have the same opportunities as any other young person. We have taken a range of measures to help create a stable environment including the creation of a virtual network of headteachers to help looked after children at school, giving those children priority in the school admissions system and funding new projects through our Innovation Programme to increase support.
We are not stopping there though and have set up an independently led review of exclusions to look at how they are used and their impact on specific groups of children so we can ensure no-one is unfairly disadvantaged. We also set out plans to reform alternative provision so children who are excluded from mainstream education can still access a high-quality school place.
Today, Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector has given a speech at the Pre-school Learning Alliance conference where she will talk about the teaching of basic skills. Ahead of that speech, media reported this morning that she will say there are some children who are starting school lacking basic skills such as being unable to speak properly, dress themselves or use the toilet. This has been reported on by the R4 Today Programme, Daily Mail, The Times, The Sun and The Telegraph.
It is important that children arrive at school ready to learn and that is why managing basic hygiene and personals needs is included in our Early Years Foundation Stage.
Our latest data shows that in 2017, 69 per cent of children have achieved the expected level of development in all 17 Early Learning Goals at our Early Learning Foundation stage which includes basic hygiene and personals needs and 91 per cent met the expected standard on the health and self-care Early Learning Goal.
We are also supporting parents to help improve their children’s early language at home so that they start their schooling with the necessary skills required to achieve their full potential.
We have launched a call for evidence to hear about the support being offered in and out of schools by professions across education, social care, health and other specialist services to improve the educational outcomes for children.
Minister for Children and Families Nadhim Zahawi said:
We want all children to arrive at school confident and ready to learn. This is why managing basic hygiene and personal needs, including going to the toilet independently, is part of the Early Years Foundation Stage. This is used by nurseries and early years providers so they can work together with parents to support children’s development and provide the right foundation for good future progress through school and life.
We are also supporting parents to help improve their children’s early language and literacy skills at home before they start school. This new support provides parents with practical advice on activities like reading and learning the alphabet which are so important in making sure no child is left behind.
Please take part in our call for evidence.