Jacqui Smith reassures Lib Dems over child welfare

Two of the government’s flagship children’s services reforms are increasing practitioneA duty making it compulsory for maintained schools to cooperate with other services to promote and safeguard the welfare of children failed to make it into the Education and Inspections Bill last week.

The Liberal Democrats’ amendment would have required the governing body of maintained schools to act in accordance with councils’ children and young people’s plans rather than have regard to them.

The party’s children’s spokesperson, Annette Brooke, said the measure was necessary because the Children Act 2004 had not placed a duty on schools to co-operate with other partners.

She said the bill’s proposals to give schools more autonomy had made her “more concerned” about the missing duty.

But she withdrew the amendment after assurances from schools minister Jacqui Smith during standing committee debate on the bill.

Smith said the proposed duty would be “totally at odds with the ethos” of the children and young people’s plan, which was “one of partnership, not compulsion”.

han half felt well supported. There was anxiety about the high level of responsibility attached to the position, and half said they wanted more guidance and training.

Multiple assessments were being completed in some cases because workers who received CAF as a referral to their service then carried out their own initial assessment.

But more than half of the practitioners and managers felt the two initiatives were promoting better multi-agency working and three-quarters thought they would lead to better outcomes for children.

The report covered common assessment and lead professional activity in pilots in 12 parts of England ahead of the national rollout from April this year.

Evaluating the Common Assessment Framework and Lead Professional Guidance and Implementation in 2006 from www.dfes.gov.uk

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