Sure Start cuts leave vulnerable children at risk of abuse and neglect

From Welfare Weekly: Years of funding cuts to children’s centres mean some of the poorest and most vulnerable families in Britain have nowhere to turn for help and support, a leading charity has warned.

A damning new report by UK charity Action for Children reveals that between 2014/15 and 2017/18 average spending by councils on children’s centres, including ‘Sure Start Centres, fell from £532 to just £412 per child.

As council funding was reduced the number of children and families supported by children’s centre’s plummeted by almost a fifth (18%). Worryingly, the number of children from the most deprived areas of the country using children’s centre’s has fallen by a shocking 22%.

Action for Children says the latest analysis suggests a direct correlation of the average developmental gap shrinking in areas where children’s centre use has increased, and a widening of the gap in areas where numbers have declined.

[Read full article on Welfare Weekly…]

Cash crisis forces children’s hospices in England to limit respite care

From The Guardian: Children’s hospices in England are in crisis and have started turning away families because of a lack of government funding and falls in corporate donations, charities have warned.

Shooting Star Children’s Hospices, which runs two children’s hospices in the south-east, will stop offering respite care from November to half the 500 local families who need it… The charity has had a 25% real-terms cut in its government funding since 2008, he said, and has been eating into its reserves since 2012. “Having to not offer services that we know are vital to really vulnerable families is very difficult for me and my staff. Respite care is a lifeline for these families. It gives parents a break. There is a chance that, without it, families will be torn apart.”

The campaigning charity Together for Short Lives will publish a report this week criticising the government for quietly reneging on its promise last December to increase its annual grant to children’s hospices to £25m. Children’s hospices in England, the report will say, now face a £13m funding gap because the government has repeatedly failed to increase funding when medical treatments advance.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

School in Stockport to close early on Fridays for lack of funding

From The Guardian: A state school in Greater Manchester is to close early on Fridays from September and charge parents who cannot pick their children up at lunchtime, in what teaching unions said was a sign that schools are “at absolute breaking point”.

Vale View primary in Reddish, Stockport, is believed to be one of at least 25 schools in England to take the drastic measure of shortening the school week in order to cut costs.

Statutory pay rises had led to a £100,000 budgetary black hole and the headteacher said she was already making “double-figure” redundancies out of a staff of 90, Hannah said. Reneging on the early Friday closure would lead to more layoffs and bigger class sizes of up to 40 children, she warned.

From September, classes will finish at 12.45pm each Friday. Parents who will not be able to pick up their children early will have to pay £3.50 per child to cover the costs of an after-school club.

Governors said they had already cut almost £400,000 from the school’s budget since January 2017. Art therapy is due to stop in July, saving £9,500, and support for speech and language therapy has already been reduced by £16,000.

The school has saved a further £50,000 by cutting subsidies for school trips, £40,000 on support for pupils sitting their year 6 Sats exams, £100,000 on resources and £136,000 by not replacing teaching assistants when they left or retired.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Thousands of schools struggling financially as government fails to fulfil promises, NEU claims

From the Morning Star: Thousands of schools are struggling financially because the government has failed to live up to funding promises that were already “woefully inadequate,” a teachers’ union claimed yesterday.

Education ministers have not even matched past promises on funding that were already not good enough, new analysis by the National Education Union (NEU) shows.

Prime Minister Theresa May and Education Minister Damian Hinds promised last year that “every school” would receive a cash increase in their funding as part of a “new national funding formula” that would protect the funds of additional needs schools but would also be conscious of the financial pressures “regular” schools are facing.

However, government statistics released on December 17 show that this promise has been broken for 25 per cent of all primary schools and 17 per cent of all secondary schools. Overall, 4,819 schools received either no cash increase or suffered a direct cut to their funding, despite the fact that the costs of maintenance and equipment at schools have shot up dramatically.

On May 23 during Prime Minister’s Questions, Ms May claimed that “the new national funding formula is providing for a cash increase for every school in every region, as well as protected funding for those with additional needs.”

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Missing special needs support ‘a national scandal’

From BBC News: Thousands of children missing out on support for diagnosed special educational needs in England is a “national scandal”, Ofsted has said.

There are 2,060 children in 2018 who have education, health and care plans (EHCs) setting out their needs, but who receive no support at all.

Some parents said a child is only assessed when they are excluded.

Ofsted chief, Amanda Spielman, also raised the issue of children disappearing from education: “Too often, children who have been assessed still do not receive the services they need.” She uses her annual report to expose what she describes as a “bleak picture” of too many children “failed by the education system”.

The report raises concerns about support for the 1.3 million pupils with special needs.

She says between 2010 and 2017, the number of children with a plan designating their needs, but who received no provision, had increased fivefold.

Last month, representatives of local authorities told MPs of the funding problems they face in their high needs budgets.

[Read full article on BBC News website…]

School cuts: new £4.5bn pensions bombshell

From HuffPost UK: Austerity-hit schools could be facing an eye-watering £4.8bn cuts bombshell if the government doesn’t fund a planned pension contributions hike.

Headteachers will be left with no choice but to slash spending on “the absolute basics” if Chancellor Philip Hammond does not plug the four-year shortfall at next year’s spending review, Labour has said.

[Read full article on HuffPost UK website…]

Schools impeded by a ‘three-headed dragon’ of difficulties, headteachers warn

From the Morning Star: Teachers face having to fight a “three-headed dragon” of workload, accountability and insufficient funding that turns teachers’ jobs into a “nightmare,” the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT) has warned.

The union’s president Andy Mellor urged the government to be more aware of how the pressures combine to form a barrier to recruitment and retention of staff.

Speaking at the NAHT’s Primary Conference in Birmingham, Mr Mellor said: “On a good day, teaching is the best job in the world. The trouble is, there are not enough good days.

“As a result, too few graduates are choosing teaching as a career and too many experienced professionals are leaving the profession prematurely. […]

“Nine out of 10 primary and secondary schools are facing real-terms funding cuts. An overhaul of the way Ofsted plans to inspect schools is being rushed through. And workload has never been higher, thanks to year after year of government changes.”

Nearly 80 per cent of school leaders in the NAHT said that they found recruitment to be a struggle last year and 67 per cent said their staff left for reasons other than retirement.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

Schools face cash squeeze as £1.7bn a year has been cut since 2015

From the Morning Star: School budgets in England have been cut by around £1.7 billion a year since 2015, Labour analysis of a Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report reveals today.

Annual spending on schools would be higher by £1.7bn in 2019-20 than the amount allocated by government if funding per pupil had been maintained in real terms over the past three years, according to Labour’s analysis of the data.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner, who will be visiting a school in Yorkshire today, has criticised Chancellor Philip Hammond’s one-off announcement of £400 million in the Budget so that schools can buy “little extras” was “downright insulting.”

Mr Hammond suggested that the average school could use it for building maintenance and equipment like a “couple of whiteboards,” but it cannot be used on running costs and staffing.

[Read full article on Morning Star website…]

UK Government told to ‘end age discrimination’ in minimum wage rates

From Welfare Weekly: The SNP has called on the UK government to “end age discrimination” in minimum wage rates at the Budget.

David Linden, one of the youngest MPs at Westminster, has written to the Chancellor demanding the UK government “stop discriminating against young people” and change the law to ensure that all workers are entitled to a real Living Wage – currently £8.75 in Scotland, £10.20 in London.

Under current UK legislation, younger workers can be discriminated against with lower wages, despite doing the same job.

Since 1st April 2018, workers over the age of 25 are entitled to a minimum wage of at least £7.83 an hour, while those aged 21 to 24 are only entitled to £7.38 an hour, those aged 18 to 20 only £5.90 an hour, those under 18 just £4.20 an hour, and apprentices can be paid as little as £3.70 an hour.

The 28-year-old SNP MP for Glasgow East, who left school at the age of 16 to work as an apprentice, said the UK government had “failed younger people” by refusing to change the law – leaving younger workers thousands of pounds a year worse off.

David Linden said: “Millions of families across the UK have suffered from falling wages and squeezed incomes under the past decade of Tory austerity – but younger workers have also faced discriminatory minimum wages rates, meaning they can legally be paid less for doing the same job.”

Teacher crisis hits London as nearly half quit within five years

From The Guardian: London schools are in the throes of a growing crisis in teacher retention, with figures revealing that more than four out of 10 quit the profession within five years of qualifying.

Schools across England say they are struggling to recruit and retain staff, but the problem is most acute in inner London where just 57% of teachers who qualified in 2012 were still working in the classroom by 2017.

According to new analysis of government figures by Labour MP Matthew Pennycook, of the 35,000 newly qualified teachers (NQTs) who started teaching in the capital since the Conservatives took power in 2010, more than 11,000 have already left.

Retention rates have deteriorated year on year since 2011. More than a quarter of teachers recruited to London schools in 2015 had already left the classroom by November 2017 and over a third of new London teachers now leave within four years.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

Sixth form and Further Education funding has fallen by a fifth since 2010, says IFS

From The Guardian: Funding for school sixth formers has fallen by more than a fifth in the past eight years amid declining investment in post-16 education, according to an authoritative study.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) report said funding for sixth form and further education (FE) students has been been cut “much more sharply” than any other area of education, with spending per sixth form student down 21% since its peak in 2010.

FE has also been hard hit, with an 8% cut in real terms since 2010/11 – and from a lower base than sixth forms – resulting in course closures, job losses and cuts to student support services. There are also concerns about the capacity of the FE system to deliver government reforms in the absence of additional funding.

[Read full article on Guardian website…]

What are the effects of child poverty?

From The Children’s Society: We know that poverty has a devastating impact on children’s lives.

It can lead to children missing out on decent meals, sleeping in cold bedrooms and being bullied at school, as well as drastically reducing their future life chances.

Children living in poverty are more likely to:
– Have poor physical health
– Experience mental health problems
– Have a low sense of well-being
– Underachieve at school
– Have employment difficulties in adult life
– Experience social deprivation
– Feel unsafe
– Experience stigma and bullying at school.

Children living in poverty are more likely to feel like a failure, and have a sense of hopeless about their future than their more affluent peers. And they have a more significant risk of developing mental health problems.

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