Weekly political news round up – 28th March 2014

March 28, 2014 in News by Whitehouse

Around the sector

Children and Young People Now has reported that Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, has written to early years inspectors urging them to “focus on evaluating whether children are being adequately prepared for the start of their statutory schooling”. Some nursery providers have objected to Ofsted’s attempts to emphasise formal education in early years care. Liz Bayram, Chief Executive of the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years, said inspectors should consider all aspects of children’s development equally, rather than just educational outcomes.

The Department for Education has published statistics on pupil absence in schools in England between 2012 and 2013. The statistics showed that the absence rate for those with an SEN was 8.2% compared to 4.8% for those without an identified SEN.

Department for Education publishes response to consultation on primary assessment and accountability

The Department for Education has published the Government’s response to its consultation on primary school assessment and accountability. The response sets out a number of changes to primary education, including changes to assessment in order to make the national curriculum more challenging, and also to the accountability system in order to make sure that children are making the best progress possible between the time they enter reception and the time that they leave primary school.

One of the most important changes for the PCF is the introduction of a baseline assessment at reception level, to be administered by reception staff, from September 2015 onwards. What the introduction of the new baseline means is that the Early Years Foundation Stage Profile will no longer be made compulsory from September 2016 onwards. The Early Years Foundation Stage Profile is the assessment used to measure children at the age of five against the Early Years Foundation Stage, which is a framework that sets the standards that all early years providers must meet to ensure that children learn and develop well and are kept healthy and safe. Though the Early Years Foundation Stage will continue to be statutory, the shift for the Profile from compulsory to optional will mean that children will no longer have to be assessed against criteria ELG 05 of the Profile, which states that children must “…manage their own basic hygiene and personal needs successfully, including dressing and going to the toilet independently”.

National Institute for Health and Care Excellence publishes consultation on draft scope for the guideline for transition from child to adult health and social care services in England

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published a consultation on the draft scope for the guideline on the transition from children’s to adult services for young people (up to the age of 25) using health or social care services. NICE was asked jointly by the Department of Health and the Department for Education to develop this guideline, which will provide action-orientated recommendations for good practice, aimed at improving outcomes for young people who use health and social care services and their families or carers.

The scope highlights the need for the guideline, citing existing problems with transition between services, such as poor management, perceptions that people are being punished for reaching a certain age and so on. It also highlights evidence of current service gaps for those with long-term chronic conditions. The scope outlines groups that this guideline is being focused on, such as children and young people with disabilities and those with long-term, life-limiting and chronic conditions, including those with complex health needs.

The desired outcome of the guideline is to allow young people to undertake the activities they want to and to live as independently as possible, with the highest quality of life as possible.

MPs debate a joined up approach to early years development

In a topical questions session with Education Secretary Michael Gove, Shadow Education Minister Tristram Hunt asked Gove for a progress update on the pledge to create 4,200 new health visitors, as pledged in 2010. Gove responded that the provision of additional health visitors was a matter for the Health Secretary.

Hunt criticised Gove’s response, criticising the lack of cross-departmental thinking about having health visitors focus on early years development. He added that research published by the Sutton Trust reiterated the impact that good parenting has on school readiness, educational attainment and progression into continued education and work. He subsequently asked if the Government’s commitment to 4,200 new health visitors would be matched in this parliamentary session.

Gove responded with frustration, claiming that Hunt should learn to tell the difference between education and health. He reiterated the point that responsibility for health visitors, like responsibility for doctors and nurses, lies with the Health Secretary.

Answer to written question on the pupil premium

Shadow Childcare Minister Lucy Powell has received an answer to her written questions asking the Education Secretary what estimate he has made for the number of three and four year olds who will benefit from his new early years premium; what the eligibility criteria is for those children; how those three and four year olds will be identified; what amount will be attached to each child; how the premium will be administered; whether all early years settings will be eligible to receive the premium for children in their care; and for how many years that funding is guaranteed.

Education Minister Elizabeth Truss responded that the Government will consult on delivery of the premium, including the eligibility criteria, prior to its introduction in April 2015. She added that funding decisions beyond 2015-16 will be determined in a future Parliament.