Committe Update: EA and FCYP December 2018

The Educational Achievement and the Families, Communities & Young People Policy Committees met jointly on Friday 23 November in London to discuss shared areas of interest. The group was joined by a representative from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to discuss the development of secure schools, which will, in time, replace secure training centres. The MoJ has been working closely with colleagues in the Department for Education (DfE) over the last couple of years to develop the framework within which these new schools will operate – they will be dual registered as a children’s home and a 16 to 19 academy school. It is proposed that the free schools approvals process will also be used in assessing applicants. The window for applications is now open and expressions of interest have been received from a wide variety of providers. Secure schools were recommended by Charlie Taylor following his review of youth justice and discussions also touched on some of the other areas of reform outlined in his 2016 review, including youth offending teams and resettlement.

The group was then joined by reps from Ofsted’s unregistered schools’ team to discuss the recent test case where the proprietors of an unregistered school in London were successfully prosecuted under the Education and Skills Act (2006). Discussions touched on the importance of collaborative working between Ofsted, local authorities and the DfE as well as consistent messaging from these three partners when encountering an unregistered school in terms of pursuing a prosecution should collective efforts to encourage compliance with the law be unsuccessful. The links between attendance at an unregistered setting operating illegally and elective home education was noted as a weakness in legislation and Ofsted reps noted the legislative shortcomings in relation to their role too – they do not have any powers to close settings. The team began operating in January 2016 they have received nearly 500 referrals of suspected illegal schools. They flagged concern about a number of alternative providers operating within the requirements to require registration as a school and some cases of residential children’s homes who were offering on-site education without prior registration as a school.

Two representatives from the DfE shared an overview of several new work streams relating to the early years, including a forthcoming public health style campaign to improve speech, language and school readiness, a new early years peer review for local areas funded by the DfE but delivered by the LGA and a £6.5 million fund for local areas to bid into in order to boost early outcomes. Reps from the DfE noted that local areas have been doing some or all of these things locally for some time and stated that they see their role as a convener and an amplifier and to that end are seeking examples of local practice in this space.

The group also reviewed the results of Association’s third elective home education survey, which showed another annual increase in the numbers of children and young people known to be educated at home and members shared a brief overview of progress in their areas on developing new multiagency safeguarding arrangements (to replace LSCBs).

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