There are a number of opportunities for you to be involved in the Local Government Association's (LGA) work over the coming weeks including, inputting into the consultations on Raising Participation Age and Pupil Referral Units, submitting evidence to the LGA for the Justice Select Committee, becoming an LGA adviser on fostering and adoption and airing your views on the Foster Carers Charter. There have also been several important announcements on funding this month as well as some new publications, details of which are below.
As ever please do let us know if there is anything you'd like to find out more about by emailing the LGA Children and Young People Team.
Cllr David Simmonds
Chairman, LGA Children and Young People Board
The Standards Fund was one of the grants incorporated into the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG) in 2011/12.
In March 2011, the Department for Education (DfE) announced that it would not be paying the final Standards Fund payment for 2010/11, a loss of £155 million. Some councils were concerned that they would have to recalculate schools' budget shares to take account of the cut. The LGA, together with the Association of Directors of Children's Services (ADCS), the Society Of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE) and Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), lobbied the DfE on behalf of the sector and brokered a short-term solution, allowing authorities to close their accounts for 2010-11 in the same way as if the Standards Fund had remained separate.
DfE has now written to Finance Directors confirming that it will pay the full £155 million alongside the final DSG payment for 2011-12 in March 2012.
Local authorities are one year away from their new Raising the Participation Age (RPA) duty and DfE launched a consultation on draft regulations to underpin RPA on 20 January.
The consultation focuses on definitions, such as what should count as residency for the purposes of RPA and what should count as full-time education. It proposes that volunteering, internships, holding an office and self-employment should also qualify as participation when combined with part-time study. It also covers the powers of councils to fine employers that breach their responsibility to provide young people with time to continue learning for the purposes of RPA.
If you would like to be involved in the LGA response, please email Jasbir Jhas.
DfE will publish a consultation response at the end of July, publish guidance in September and put in place regulations in the latter half of 2012, to be laid before Parliament in early 2013.
Revised guidance on Learning Difficulty Assessments (LDAs) conducted under section 139A of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 was published by DfE on 13 February 2012.
This places councils under a duty to arrange for an LDA to be conducted for all young people who have a Statement of Special Educational Needs and who are expected to leave school at 16-19 to receive post 16 education, training or higher education.
Councils also have the power to undertake an LDA for those young people who do not have a statement but appear to have learning difficulties, and are receiving or are likely to receive post-16 education.
The LGA works closely with the DfE on special education needs issues and the LGA's Additional Needs Expert Group gathers information and views from participating authorities. For further information about how the LGA can support your local authority on these issues please contact Liz Hobson.
The LGA has responded to the DfE consultation on the proposal for a new entitlement for free education for 20 per cent of disadvantaged two year olds from September 2013, rising to 40 per cent by 2014. Our response supports the Government's objectives to improve the development of society's most disadvantaged children, but argues for adequate funding for councils to successfully deliver this new policy initiative.
In 2010 the Social Work Reform Board (SWRB) was created to take forward the recommendations of the Social Work Task Force for the sector-led reform of social work. One recommendation of the Task Force was to develop a new system for forecasting levels of supply and demand for social workers.
Subsequently, at the request of the SWRB, the Centre for Workforce Intelligence (CfWI) has developed the Social Worker Supply and Demand Model. The model design means it can be customised with data and assumptions to improve accuracy and identify local trends. It also allows the user to compare scenarios in order to model potential changes that could affect workforce supply and demand.
The model was launched in October 2011 and to date 70 councils have registered to use it. CfWI recognise this is only a partial solution to the challenges of workforce planning and are keen to refine the model through dialogue with users and to engage with the sector more widely on workforce planning issues. To this end, you are encouraged to feedback your comments on the model to Jane Evans.
The DfE has announced a six week consultation on amendment regulations for pupil referral units (PRUs).
The regulations will provide the legal basis for PRUs to become academies and re-introduce the duty on PRUs to co-operate with their local authority to improve the well-being of children in that council's area.
We we would welcome views and comments to inform the LGA response. If you would like to share your thoughts, please contact Donald Rae, ideally by 29 February 2012.
The closing date for submitting comments to DfE is 20 March 2012.
The government has announced that it will end the annual Ofsted Children Services Assessments, following LGA lobbying and has issued a consultation paper.
On 25 January, the Justice Select Committee announced that it is holding an inquiry into youth justice.
The Inquiry aims to examine the extent to which the youth justice system in England and Wales is fulfilling its principal aim of preventing offending by young people. The inquiry will explore a number of issues, such as the targeting of resources; the role of youth justice system in diverting at-risk young people away from first-time offending; the evidence base for preventing offending and reducing re-offending; the governance of the youth justice system; and the extent to which the system is able to meet the needs of all offenders.
The LGA will be submitting written evidence to this inquiry and you can feed in your views to the LGA by contacting Cassi Harrison by 7 March.
On Monday 6 February, the Government published its response to the Norgrove Family Justice Review.
The Government accepted many of the Review's recommendations. In particular, the Government has committed to speeding up care and adoption cases. It has said that it will introduce legislation at the earliest opportunity possible to enable a six month time limit to be set and, wherever possible, it will expect cases to be completed more quickly.
The LGA has made clear that councils are dedicated to putting children first and those in care need to be saved from long spells of uncertainty they currently have to endure. The LGA is committed to working with government to remove unnecessary obstacles and ensure children are in stable and loving homes wherever possible.
On 26 January 2012, the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, announced a children and young people's outcomes strategy will be unveiled later this year, with an ambition "to improve outcomes for children and young people's health".
To inform the strategy, a Children's and Young People's Forum made up of 52 members from across local government, the NHS and charities has been set up. The forum will be responsible for carrying out a three month engagement process with appropriate stakeholders before reporting back their recommendations to the Government later in the year.
In the most recent Education Questions, MPs discussed the provision of youth services. Children's Minister, Tim Loughton, said that local authorities have made significant reductions in funding for out-of-school services. The Government did make the point, however, that many authorities are prioritising early intervention to help disadvantaged young people.
The Government was also asked about the number of additional primary school places needed in the next decade. Responding to the question, Education Secretary, Michael Gove, said that most local authorities are forecasting an increase in primary pupil numbers over the next five years and that the Government "will continue to provide capital funding to meet that need".
For more information, contact Jessica Thrift.
The local youth offer: working with the private, voluntary and community sectors to provide services to young people
The LGA, DfE and the National Youth Agency (NYA) have produced a report, based on a series of five case studies, showing how councils have attracted funding from a range of sources to produce a local youth offer.
Ofsted have now published the 'Framework for the inspection of local authority arrangements for the protection of children' and the 'Evaluation schedule for protection of children'
Read the letter from John Goldup, Director of Social Care at Ofsted to all Directors of Children's Services, announcing the publication.
Read the evaluation report on the ' Responses of Ofsted's consultation on the inspection of local authority children's services'.
For further information, please contact Sue Leaver at Ofsted.
This report presents the findings of research carried out by the National Children's Bureau (NCB) Research Centre to explore the views of children with experience of the care system.
The LGA and the Office of the Schools Adjudicator jointly ran a seminar on 16 January on the implications for councils of the 2012 Schools Admissions Code.
Representatives from 75 councils attended and a report of the seminar has been produced to help authorities as they implement the new code. It can be downloaded from the LGA website.
Free Seminar for Local Authority Coordinators of Governor Services
12 March 2012 | London
The education environment is changing, with a large number of new academies and some free schools working alongside schools maintained by the local authority. The local authority role needs to develop to meet the needs of this changed environment. This seminar will include discussion on:
the new roles of local authorities in the context of a more autonomous school system
the changing framework for school and academy governance
the changing environment for local authority governor services
ways in which the LGA, NGA and NCOGs can support Coordinators of Governor Services.
For further information or to book your place email Katerina Charalambous
The council role in education - free event for lead members for children's services
21 March 2012 | London
This free event brings Lead Members for Children's Services together exclusively to discuss the initial findings of the DfE/LGA Local Authority Action Research on the Council Role in Education.
This research is looking at how councils are adapting to the increasing number of academies and developing their role in this context around; the supply of sufficient school places, school improvement and supporting vulnerable children. Lead Members for Children's Services will have the opportunity to share learning and to influence this important research.
For further information or to book your place email Katerina Charalambous
Reducing health inequalities for children and young people conference
22 March 2012 | London
This important national conference will offer a valuable opportunity for delegates to analyse the implications of the transfer of public health responsibilities to local government. It will help delegates understand how they can ensure children and young people's health interests remain at the centre of local authority and public health services and it will share early learning from local authorities and their partners making progress in this agenda. Confirmed speakers include Anne Milton, Public Health Minister, Dame Sally Davies, Chief Medical Officer and Elaine McHale, Wakefield Council, Cllr Liz Green and Cllr David Rogers will jointly chair the event. The conference is free to LGA members and £100 for all other organisations.
The LGA is looking to expand its advisory officer network for children's social care, with a current focus on fostering and adoption in light of the Government's review. We are seeking officers who would be willing to share their expertise to help inform our work, for example by providing views on particular issues via email or telephone. If you are working in this area and would be interested in acting as an adviser please contact Cassi Harrison.
The LGA would be interested in receiving any short case studies to capture the work councils are doing to support schools in their new duty to secure Careers Education Information Advice and Guidance (CEIAG) for Year 9-11 pupils, effective from September 2012. Please let us know what you are doing by e-mailing Jasbir Jhas.
It is nearly a year since Tim Loughton launched the Foster Carers Charter for councils and fostering agencies to sign up to, recognising the invaluable work of foster carers and aiming to encourage more people to foster.
We would be very interested to hear about how councils have used the Charter locally, particularly to engage with foster carers in their areas and how it has informed service delivery. If you have a positive story to tell about your experience, please contact Cassi Harrison.
The LGA issued a statement in response to DfE figures which showed that the English school system would need to provide more than 450,000 extra primary school places by September 2015. BBC Online reported that the LGA was calling for better forecasting methods for future demand to identify where the big increases are likely over five to 10 years.
The story was also picked up by the Telegraph and Financial Times.
Cllr David Simmonds, Chairman of the Children and Young People Board, was interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live following claims that councils are spending millions of pounds hiring taxis to ferry students to school. He said: "It's important to recognise that councils have a duty to ensure all the children in their area go to school, and that means providing whatever transport is necessary if there isn't a local school place available. The key thing is that councils are working hard to provide new school places where they are required. Over the last ten years we have seen a lot of pressure to close small rural schools because they have not been regarded as an efficient way to provide education. It's encouraging that residents are stepping up and saying they want to see that change."
Cllr David Simmonds appeared on ITV's Daybreak following claims that councils were shutting Sure Start centres. Cllr Simmonds explained that councils had only shut 3 per cent of sure start centres with most of these due to mergers. He reassured viewers that councils know their areas best and are working to ensure the best possible services at a time when budgets are stretched.
30 January 2013