Children Bill fails to place new duties on schools – for now

    Attempts to place a legal duty on schools to identify and meet
    the needs of looked after children in the Children Bill have
    failed, but could resurface at a later stage, writes
    Amy Taylor
    .

    The Bill places a duty on local authorities to promote looked after
    children’s educational achievement but the Association of
    Directors of Social Service, the Local Government Association and
    children’s charity the National Children’s Bureau want
    the duty to be extended to schools.

    The amendment placed a duty on the governing body of a school to
    ensure that its teachers are aware of the educational needs of
    looked after children in general and where appropriate know which
    children in the school are looked after. Ann Baxter, director of
    social services at Stockton-on-Tees council and secretary of the
    children and families committee at the ADSS said that she was
    “disappointed” by the withdrawal.

    Alison King, chair of the LGA’s social affairs and health
    executive said that it was not enough to place a duty on local
    authorities as schools played an “integral part” in
    ensuring looked after children reached their potential in
    education. She added that legislative change was vital as current
    Department for Education and Skills guidance was failing to improve
    support for the group in schools.

    Baroness Sharp of Guilford said that although she would withdraw
    the amendment she would read what sure start minister baroness
    Ashton had previously said about the issue in the children bill
    debate and possibly re-table it.

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