Today’s blog looks at the latest Barnardo’s report, what we are doing to tackle teacher misconduct, and university ‘Freshers’ Week.’
Yesterday, Sunday 23 September, children’s charity Barnardo’s issued a press release based on a YouGov survey about children’s social care. This story was covered in the Sunday Times, the Telegraph and the Mirror.
Children and Families Minister, Nadhim Zahawi said:
Every child should have the best start in life and we have made £200billion available to local councils up to 2020 for a range of local services including those for children and young people.
Alongside this, we are improving the training of social workers to help them spot any signs of neglect and investing up to £270 million in children’s social care programmes to improve the lives of vulnerable children, young people and families.
We are also spending £1.4billion to transform mental health services for children and young people and are on track to ensure 70,000 more children a year have access to specialist mental health care by 2020/21.
On Saturday 22 September, the Times ran a piece looking at teacher misconduct, and how social media can play into the issue.
The Keeping Children Safe in Education statutory guidance states that governing bodies and proprietors should ensure appropriate policies and procedures are in place in order for appropriate and timely action to be taken to safeguard children. This includes a code of conduct on the use of social media.
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport have been clear that social media firms must do more to protect children from harmful content. They will publish a joint White Paper this year with the Home Office which will set out legislation to tackle online harms and clarify the responsibilities of social media companies.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
The Department for Education provide a strong safeguarding and teacher regulation framework for schools. Individual schools are best placed to develop local policies, such as their own behaviour policies, within that framework.
University Good University Guide
On Sunday 23 September, ahead of Fresher's week, the Sunday Times published their Good University Guide and ran a story looking the 'social inclusivity' of higher education providers.
There are record rates of 18 year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds going to university – up 50% from 2009. This is great progress, but we are clear that more needs to be done to improve access to some higher education institutions and to support pupils from the most disadvantaged areas to participate and succeed in higher education.
Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:
University matters because it can have a transformational impact on a person’s life opportunities. That is why it’s is crucially important that our universities make every effort, including working with schools, to give disadvantaged students a fair crack of the whip.
Our reforms have ensured there is a record rate of disadvantage 18 year olds going to university, up 50% in 2017 on 2009. But there is still a long way to go in terms of access to some of the most selective institutions and succeeding at university for our most disadvantaged students.
That is why we now require in law that universities have to publish offer and acceptance rates so that the Office for Students (OfS) can take appropriate action to drive improvements in access. Universities can only charge the maximum fee cap if they have robust access and participation plans, which the OfS is going to maintain a laser-like focus on.
Student Mental Health
To mark the start of the new university academic year and the traditional ‘Freshers’ Week’, a number or outlets including BBC Breakfast, have covered the issue of student mental health today, Monday 24 September.
As part of the government drive to improve student metal health, on 14 September, Sam Gyimah wrote to university Vice Chancellors in England calling on them to prioritise student metal health and wellbeing.
In June, Minister Gyimah also hosted a summit in Bristol to bring together key individual together to discuss how to improve mental health support for students. This included the development of a new charter and the establishment of a working group led by the department which would look at the transition student’s face when going to university.