Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at funding for younger children to join Scouts and a new report from the LGA about funding for SEND.
Scouts Early Years Pilot Programme
On Wednesday, 14 November, the Secretary of State announced projects worth nearly £18 million to improve children’s early communication skills and provide tools for parents to encourage learning in and around the home.
One of these projects which received particular media interest was the Scouts Early Years Pilot Programme, which will work in partnership with Action for Children to create and test a national volunteer-led Early Years Scouts programme for children aged four and five. This will allow for more younger children to join the organisation to develop ‘skills for life’.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
As the vast majority of children’s time is spent at home, we need to think about how we support parents with learning in the home environment. This could be seen as the last taboo in education, and certainly no one wants to be lecturing parents.
But it is a persistent scandal that too many children are starting school unable to communicate effectively, and we know that what happens at home makes a big difference in that.
Working with businesses and organisations we are looking to support parents with practical help and advice. This includes the development of a set of easy, everyday activities for all families, from playing with numbers to songs and poems, in order to support children’s development.
As a parent, I’m also conscious that while we think about screen time limits for children, we find it harder to limit it for ourselves – but that one-to-one time without gadgets getting in the way is so valuable.
The pressures of work and the modern world mean putting phones away is far from easy but I think it’s an important area to talk about, particularly as we consider ways to support parents with children’s learning at home.
This doesn’t mean technology is the villain of the piece - indeed, if used well it can actively support a child’s learning. Technology is something we must harness to use in our mission to improve communication skills, not be something that gets in the way.
Today, Thursday 15 November, the Local Government Association issued a report on support for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). This was covered in the Guardian.
The report in question took findings based on 73 councils, so may not represent the full picture. Even so, in 2018-19 councils will receive £6 billion in funding for young people with complex SEND, which is a £5 billion increase from 2013, as we continue to offer further support for local authorities.
Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi said:
Our ambition for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) is exactly the same for every other child – to achieve well in education, and go on to live happy and fulfilled lives. This is why we’ve introduced Education Health and Care plans, tailored to each individual, to ensure they are supported while they study.
Local authorities and schools have statutory duties to support children and young people with SEND. In 2018-19 councils will receive £6 billion of funding for young people with more complex SEND – an increase from £5 billion in 2013. However, we recognise that local authorities are facing cost pressures on high needs which is why we are monitoring local authority spending decisions and keeping the overall level of funding under review. As part of this, we will be very interested to see the LGA’s final report.