Children’s Plan invests £1bn on schools and families

    The government’s Children’s Plan, which was launched yesterday, places family support, education and kids’ play at the heart of a £1bn investment.

    The funding package, announced in October’s comprehensive spending review, will be used over the next three years to improve schools and to support families. The aim is to achieve “world-class ambitions for all children” by 2020.

    Working with the Home Office, the Department for Children, Schools and Families will invest £66m to support young people who are at most risk of offending and pilot a restorative approach to youth offenders.

    The government will review the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) to identify improvements for specialist support services for young people with mental health needs.

    In 2008, the government will publish an action plan to tackle overcrowded housing and to ensure that children live near schools and other important services.

    In 2009, Ofsted will lead a full review into special education needs (SEN) provision. The government will also invest £18m into teacher training, SEN co-ordinators in schools and data collection on SEN pupils.

    In addition, children’s secretary Ed Balls announced today that £100m would provide free childcare for 20,000 two-year-olds from disadvantaged areas.

    Balls said: “The Children’s Plan marks the beginning of a new relationship in which government commits to working with families and their children and making sure that their needs come first. This isn’t about nanny-state intervention or telling parents what to do. We know that government doesn’t bring up children, families do.”

    Over the next three years, the government will spend £225m on playgrounds and new supervised adventure playgrounds in deprived areas. And in a two-year programme, £160m will go towards youth centres for young people to take part in community activities.

    Sir Jim Rose, former director of inspection at Ofsted, will also lead a review into the primary school national curriculum. 

    But Clare Tickell, chief executive of children’s charity NCH, warned: “It is vital to realise that solutions do not rest with schools or families alone. We need joined-up working that involves everyone, making the most of available expertise and local knowledge. Most importantly, we must not forget who this plan is actually for: children and their families. They must remain at the heart of these proposals, and not just become hidden behind faceless targets and statistics.

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