Government resists moves to make schools accountable for wellbeing of children

    Local government leaders are angry that the government is
    resisting new moves to make schools more accountable for the
    wellbeing of children, particularly those in care,
    writes Craig Kenny.

    One amendment to the Education Bill in the House of Lords
    proposes a duty on schools inspectors to examine how well schools
    are working with children’s services authorities to improve
    wellbeing.

    Another amendment proposes that schools watchdog Ofsted checks a
    school’s progress in improving the educational attainment of
    looked-after children.

    Similar moves to amend the Children’s Bill, backed by the
    Local Government Association, the police, children’s
    charities and school governors, were blocked last year following
    opposition from schools and teaching unions.

    Councillor Alison King, chair of the LGA’s children and
    young people board, said schools should be made to co-operate with
    other agencies.

    “There is a dislocation between schools, which are
    becoming more autonomous, and local authorities, which will be
    judged on their ability to provide for children’s
    wellbeing,” she said.

    “In the Education Bill, we are talking about schools
    budgets being totally ring-fenced – that distances them
    further from the local authority.

    ‘We are going to be judged on something about which we
    have precious little control. We believe this is a huge and glaring
    omission in the legislation.’

    But education minister Lord Filkin told the House of Lords that
    the amendment “represents a substantial loss of focus away
    from the school and the work it does for its own pupils”.

    The crossbench peer, Earl of Listowel, said his amendments on
    looked-after children would provide a “real motor” to
    ensure that inspectors check on their progress in school.

    But Lord Filkin could see no point in singling out one group of
    disadvantaged children. ‘We would be in danger of having a
    list of particular groups that the inspector had to think about and
    assess…That would fetter the inspector’s
    discretion.’

    It is understood that the government plans to spell out the need
    for schools to co-operate with partner agencies in guidance to the
    bill.

     

    More from Community Care

    Comments are closed.