Independent Reviewing Officers are not able to work to their full potential for children in care due to the challenges associated with the role, a study has found. A report by the National Children’s Bureau found that high case loads, an inability to assert independence and confront poor practice, time constraints, a lack of resources and an expectation to conduct other duties outside the IRO remit, all contributed towards an inconsistent application of IRO core duties set out in statutory guidance.
The government is considering whether to create a new offence of emotional cruelty to children. The BBC reports that the Ministry of Justice is looking at how the law can protect children from emotional cruelty. It follows a campaign for a “Cinderella Law” from charity Action for Children.
Framework for inspecting non-association independent schools
The framework for inspecting education in non-association independent schools in England gives the statutory basis for inspection and summarises the main features of school inspections carried out under section 162A of the Education Act 2002, as inserted by schedule 8 of the Education Act 2005. It sets out how the general principles and processes of inspection are applied to non-association independent schools in England. This framework should be read alongside theNon-association independent school inspection handbook.
This framework includes the inspection of provision for pupils aged three to five years in the Early Years Foundation Stage, taking account of the Statutory framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage. It does not cover the inspection of registered provision for the care of children from birth to age three, which is inspected under section 49(2) of the Childcare Act 2006.
The framework comes into effect from 28 April 2014.
The first prosecutions over female genital mutilation in the UK have been announced by the Crown Prosecution Service.
The BBC reports that Dr Dhanoun Dharmasena will be prosecuted for an alleged offence while working at the Whittington Hospital in London in November 2012, and Hasan Mohamed will face a charge of intentionally encouraging an offence of female genital mutilation.
The pair will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 15 April.
Coventry’s children’s services ‘inadequate’, say inspectors
Services at a council that was criticised over the death of four-year-old Daniel Pelka have been branded “inadequate” by inspectors.
An Ofsted inspection published today found that too many children and young people in need of help and protection in Coventry are not seen swiftly enough, placing them “at risk of harm”. The report, which followed an inspection that ran from 28 January to 5 February this year, also states that leaders and managers have not tackled key weaknesses in children’s social care quickly enough to ensure that children and young people are effectively helped and protected. And it points to the fact that social workers in the referral and assessment teams have very high caseloads, which means they “cannot do their job properly”.
“The lack of robust management oversight of social workers’ caseloads means that managers do not know whether all children have been seen or assessed,” the report said. “Social workers do not always receive the right level of supervision from their managers to enable them to discuss cases fully and make the right decisions for children and young people, to improve their outcomes and ensure their safety and welfare.” In the key inspection rating area of children looked after and achieving permanence the authority was rated as “requires improvement”.
In the other two key areas of children who need help and protection, and leadership, management, and governance, the authority was rated as “inadequate”. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) was also rated “inadequate”. The inspection findings mirror those of an independent review into the death of Daniel Pelka, who died from a head injury in March 2012, and had been starved and beaten by his mother and her partner, who were convicted of his murder in August 2013.
That review, ordered by children’s minister Edward Timpson after he criticised the original serious case review for failing to answer key questions about what went wrong in the case, found that stress brought on by high volumes of work resulted in frontline practitioners making poor professional decisions. Coventry is one of six authorities to have a report into the quality of its children’s services published today by Ofsted. Of the others, East Sussex, Staffordshire, and Essex all received overall ratings of “good”, while both Bolton and Hounslow received “requires improvement” ratings.
|Figures released by Cafcass reveal that in February 2014, they received a total of 885 care applications. This figure represents a 12% decrease compared to those received in February 2013.
|Source: Cafcass 12 March 2014|
|The Scottish Government has published a child poverty strategy for 2014-17. This includes £2.5 million in funding for advice to people dealing with the impact of welfare reforms and for community projects to tackle poverty.
|Source: Scottish Government 09 March 2014|
|The government has published an action plan for 2014 for ending violence against women and girls. It sets out its achievements so far and details the focus of activities for the coming year.
Source: Gov.Uk 11 March 2014
|The Education Committee has held a one-off session on child well-being in England. The committee explored the issues relating to children in England arising from the UNICEF Report Card on child well-being in rich countries.
|Source: Parliament.UK 14 March 2014|
Ten per cent of young people in Northern Ireland have self-harmed, a study has found. The BBC reports that research by Glasgow University and the Northern Ireland Department of Health found that past exposure to years of conflict and the emergence of social media are new associated risk factors.