No excuses on education

The first national statistics confirming the scandalously low
levels of educational achievement of looked-after children and
their impact on employment, health and criminality were rightly
highlighted in Community Care (News, page 9, 21 June). How
disheartening to read the response of the Association of Directors
of Social Services in the same article, including an appeal for
realism as “many children are in care or looked-after because of
their offending or poor school attendance”.

The facts are, we might have thought, beyond dispute. Only
around 2 per cent of children and young people enter the public
care system with previous criminal convictions. Additionally, the
difficulties many children in care experience with their education
are extreme even in comparison with other children from similarly
disadvantaged backgrounds. The lessons from research and practice
of the past two decades have consistently demonstrated the failure
of the care system itself to ensure children in care are provided
with the same educational opportunities that the overwhelming
majority of the general school population take for granted.

It is taken as read too that individual parental attitudes,
expectations and the manner in which we support the education of
our own children are the most critical factors in achieving
success. The “corporate parent” is no different, but regrettably
has rooted deep within its culture, structures and services a
fundamental belief that somehow these children are very different
from our own and that their individual circumstances militate
against a real parity with other children in educational

Raising standards for these children is not a straightforward
matter. However, our aspiration that looked-after children and
young people achieve results in line with all other children within
our communities will be realised a great deal earlier when we
finally recognise and accept the extent to which we, the adults,
have created the problem, rather than looked-after children

Tim Walker
Chief executive
The National Teaching and Advisory Service

Brian injury requires appropriate services

There is a desperate need for understanding on the part of
social services departments of the impact of acquired brain injury
(The Risk Factor, 14 June).

Your article also demonstrates the consequences of failure to
access post-acute rehabilitation that takes account of the
timescale required for appropriate strategies to be learned and is
used to address cognitive, communication, physical,
social-behavioural and emotional needs.

The report of the commons select committee on health (Head
Injury: Rehabilitation
, April 2001) recommended that every
head-injured person admitted to hospital should leave with a care
plan mapped out. We would add that this should outline a number of
stages and be long-term, rather than merely looking at the
placement on discharge.

Acquired brain injury is to this decade what learning
difficulties were to the 1960s – here to stay and demanding of
appropriate services, not merely domiciliary containment at the
expense of clients and families.

Judith Oliver
Manager, Brain Injury Centre
Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation
Banstead, Surrey

Attitudes that put off social work students

In September, I will start studying for the Diploma in Social
Work and I was appalled by Bill Stone’s attitude towards potential
students (Viewpoint, 21 June).

I am not “anyone” with good intentions. I am a person with two
years’ experience in the adults with learning difficulties field,
three years in mental health and one year running a play group. I
have also completed two Open University courses. All the while
bringing up two children alone.

At my interview for the DipSW, all the applicants were amazed by
how difficult it is to get on the course. The DipSW is very
different from the training of 20 years ago and had I displayed the
same judgmental and patronising attitudes as Bill Stone I would not
have been accepted as a student.

Perhaps Mr Stone should spend some time on “prescriptive
policies and procedures” and try being a reflective practitioner,
thereby changing his views to something more in line with today’s
working environment.

Name and address withheld

The future of care

The recent publication of the King’s Fund report Future
(News, page 4, 14 June) is a timely clarion call to
all providers of social care to seriously examine the viability of
future provision. The recruitment and retention of staff in social
care presents real threats and can no longer be dismissed as a spin
off of a vibrant economy (as one politician explained to me earlier
this year).

Another ticking bomb, which may fuel the tension between cost
and quality, is the implementation of national care standards from
2002. The standards have been long fought for and their arrival
through the Care Standards Act 2000 was cheered loudly. With no
sign of transitional funds from the government, the costs of
implementation and new revenue costs pose threats to many
providers’ survival.

At a time when the shape of Britain’s public services is being
hotly debated, let’s ensure social care is high up on the agenda.
the King’s Fund has started this process. We must now work closely
with the new ministerial team at the Department of Health to ensure
that people who use social care services get quality, choice and

John Knight
Head of external policy
Leonard Cheshire

A voice for staff

We agree with Linda Goldsmith (Letters, 21 June) that there is a
need for “a campaign to ensure that care staff are justly valued,
supported and rewarded”.

The King’s Fund report Future Imperfect (News, page 4,
14 June) states that “a radical change is needed in the value that
is attached to care work”. It adds that “improved pay and
conditions must be at the heart of the approach, and other ways of
raising the status of care workers will be key”.

The delivery of consistently high quality personal care services
will not be achievable until care staff are well trained, receive
proper supervision, and are adequately rewarded for the challenging
work that they do. We believe that all stakeholders must work
together to achieve this goal.

At present care workers in the independent sector do not have
effective representation. A new campaign group is being launched to
meet this need and ensure that care workers’ concerns are placed
firmly on the agenda.

We invite support from all who share our view that professional
care workers are entitled to a decent standard of living and secure
conditions of employment in return for their contribution to the
Name and address withheld

What Art thou?

It is arts therapists not art therapists (“Where the art is”, 10
May) who are state registered with the Council for Professions
Supplementary to Medicine. “Arts therapist” is an umbrella term for
three professions that have separate training and separate
professional bodies. These are art therapy, dramatherapy and music
therapy. There are also many dance movement therapists, regulated
by the Association for Dance Movement Therapy (UK), who are working
towards state registration at present.

It is, in fact, arts therapists (not art therapists) who use
“traditional art, drama and music to help a broad range of people”.
Practitioners generally work mainly in their own medium, although
there may be crossovers with particular clients.

The arts therapies are used in very clear situations, which are
similar to psychotherapy and counselling. The arts in health cover
a wide range of approaches and initiatives, as was well illustrated
in your article. Although much of this work has a therapeutic
benefit, it is not all art, music, drama or dance movement

Rachel Matthews
State registered arts therapist (drama)
Whitland, Pembrokeshire

Champion of social work will be missed

Robin Huws Jones, who died recently (News, page 5, 28 June) was
one of the founders of modern social work. Although, like Dame
Eileen Younghusband, he was not a social worker, he championed the
profession in the 1960s and 70s, serving on a number of important
bodies, including the Seebohm committee which led to the creation
of social services departments.

He is remembered for his forthright views, his tenacity in
pursuing government ministers and the way in which he advanced the
careers of young social workers he thought would one day play
leading roles in the development of social services.

He also had a sparkling sense of fun. I, and my colleagues from
that time, will forever be grateful to him.

W Harbert
Frome, Somerset



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