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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