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New ADCS education policy paper

The Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) today, Thursday 5 July, publishes a new policy paper setting out a vision for an inclusive and high performing education system.

A series of wide ranging reforms in recent years has resulted in the education system becoming increasingly incoherent due to ongoing lack of clarity around the roles of key players and myriad different reforms and reviews. ADCS is concerned that this lack of a holistic accountability system is resulting in a growing number of children and young people being squeezed out of the mainstream school system or disappearing entirely from sight.

Councils have a unique role in ensuring the local education system works effectively and hold a lengthy list of statutory duties including championing the needs of the most vulnerable learners, promoting educational excellence and ensuring fair access to school places. These duties apply to all children irrespective of where they receive their education.

The Paper calls for the development of a coherent vision and strategy for the education system. One which brings the multiple threads together in a holistic way, recognises the importance of place, prioritises equality of access and the interests of vulnerable learners. A review of admissions arrangements and an open and honest discussion about the return of an academy to the local authority family of schools when a multi-academy trust either fails or hands back an individual academy is also required. Children’s outcomes are put at risk by the time it can take to seek a new sponsor and there are examples of this taking over a year. Whilst this isn’t a widespread problem it is seriously concerning.

Stuart Gallimore, ADCS President, said: “Nationally, the rate of exclusions has increased significantly yet we know that the social and financial cost of allowing a child to get to the point of exclusion are huge. Our collective aim should be to prevent exclusions wherever possible and support children to achieve their full potential. It’s in all of our best interests that there is clarity in the system and parity in access for all learners. Education is best delivered in partnership, where all players are working in concert to ensure that all learners receive a good education and they, and their families, are treated fairly and equitably. The majority of schools work well with their local authorities and are inclusive, but, we know of too many cases where children are being excluded, both formally and informally, or their parents or carers, are encouraged to educate them at home, irrespective of how prepared they are to undertake this role.

Stuart concluded: “It is clear that the overall quantum of funding for education is no longer sufficient, all players involved in the delivery of education need to come together to collectively make the case to the Treasury for greater investment in all schools and all learners as a matter of urgency. This must be in the form of genuinely new money coming into the system. Failing this, there must be frank discussion about whether existing money is being used to best effect.

“ADCS members across the country are increasingly concerned about the impact of rising financial pressures along with the curriculum reforms, increased accountability and a high stakes inspection regime. The aspiration is an inclusive system that meets the needs of all learners, the benefits for children, their families, their schools and communities are frankly immeasurable.”

The full policy paper can be found here


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