Youth work and social care news from around the world

Links from around the world of youth work and social care:

Working together to safeguard children: statutory guidance myth busting

The Children’s Social Care Innovation Programme has published guidance from the Department for Education (DfE) to clarify to relevant parts of the English statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018.  They discovered that some parts of the guidance acted as a barrier to good practice and outcomes for children and families and can be made clearer, e.g. making it clear that family assessments of risk of harm faced by children are permissible as long as the unique needs of individual children are considered.

Topics covered include: individual child assessments; return home interviews; social workers for foster carers and children with long term foster placements; social workers for children in staying put; frequency of visits for social workers; and fostering and adoption panels.

The responses have been agreed by the Department for Education and their lawyers in consultation with Ofsted.

How the food we feed young people affects their brain

How the food we feed young people affects their brain

At work we’ve been reflecting recently on how our young people’s diet affects their brain.

When it comes to what you bite, chew and swallow, your choices have a direct and long-lasting effect on the most powerful organ in your body: your brain. So which foods cause you to feel so tired after lunch? Or so restless at night? Mia Nacamulli has this amazing video which takes you into the brain to find out.

The challenge now is how does this alter the youth work we run – does it change how what food we provide and what treats we offer?  What are you doing in your setting?

View the full lesson here.

Reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect

Reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect

The Home Office and the Department for Education have launched a consultation on reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect.

They are seeking views from the public on the possible introduction of a mandatory requirement for teachers and other professionals to report child abuse and neglect. Read the consultation documents and fill in the survey using the link above before the deadline on October 13th 12pm.


Campaign aims to open up jobs to young people without degrees

Open to All logoTwo major children’s charities have launched a campaign urging employers, particularly those in the voluntary sector, to make more job opportunities available to young people without degrees.

The Open To All campaign, started by Children England and the National Children’s Bureau, aims to encourage more inclusive recruitment practices among employers so that candidates’ suitability for a role is judged on their skills and experience rather than whether they have a degree. It has been launched to counter the growing trend in the charity sector of entry-level positions being taken by graduates. Find out more on the Children England website.

Good Childhood Report 2015


The Children’s Society has produced their fourth Good Childhood Report, exploring how children feel about their lives, based on 10 years of well-being research in partnership with the University of York.


The report concludes that far too many children in England are experiencing low levels of well-being and considers what more can be done to improve the lives of children when it comes to their well-being, how to respond to those most in need and the importance of listening to children’s voices and understanding their personal experiences.


The report looks at the latest national statistics, key findings from the research programme, new findings from an international perspective and children’s well-being in the UK in comparison to that of children in other countries.


Key Findings;

  • 5-10% of children in the UK have low levels of well-being
  • Low well-being is linked to a range of negative outcomes for children including mental and physical health problems.
  • More than half of children not living with family, e.g. ‘Looked After Children’, and children who have difficulties with learning had lower levels of life satisfaction compared to fewer than one in ten of those living with family.
  • As children approach adolescence there are clear declines in levels of well-being, 2.4% of children aged 10 had low levels of life satisfaction compared to 8.2% of children aged 16.
  • From an international perspective, children in England ranked 14th out of 15th for satisfaction with life as a whole.



Child sexual exploitation report – “It couldn’t happen here, could it?”

The sexual exploitation of children - it couldn't happen here, could it

The government has recently produced a report into child sexual exploitation entitled “It couldn’t happen here, could it?“.

The report evaluates the effectiveness of how local authorities’ have responded to the challenge of child sexual exploitation.  The report draws on evidence from inspection and case examination in eight local authorities and from the views of children and young people, parents, carers, practitioners and managers.  A number of other inspection reports of children’s homes and children’s services and reviews of Local Safeguarding Children Boards contributed to the findings.

If you’re a children’s or youth worker this is essential reading so go and download the report here.

Young people to be funded to remain in foster care until age 21 if they wish

Education minister Edward Timpson

Children and young people brought up by foster carers in England will be allowed to remain with families until they are 21 if they choose to under a new legal duty for councils – this is brilliant news – it was always crazy to force young people to live on their own at 18 by withdrawing their funding:

Children and young people brought up by foster carers in England will be allowed to remain with families until they are 21 if they choose to under a new legal duty for councils, ministers will announce on Wednesday.

Charities have long argued for a change in the law, which currently forces many young people to live on their own at 18. The government has set aside £40m for local authorities over the next three years to put support arrangements in place.

The decision marks a U-turn for ministers, who had previously resisted calls to expand Labour’s pilot Staying Put programme – a scheme that gives young people the option to stay with foster families until they are 21.

The Labour scheme had been piloted in 11 English local authorities since 2008 and evaluations showed that young people who stayed on with foster carers were twice as likely to be in full time education at 19 as those who did not.

Education minister Edward Timpson, whose own mother fostered 90 children, said: “I know from the many foster children I grew up with how crucial it is for them to be given sufficient time to prepare for life after care.  A growing number of local authorities already offer young people the choice to stay, but with little financial support it can be challenging for their foster families. This is a further reform to our much wider package of support for care leavers, including much greater financial support for young people leaving care at 18.”

The government will now put forward an amendment at the third reading of the children and families bill in January.

Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, which campaigned on the issue, said: “This change in the law will make a massive difference to the lives of this and future generations of care leavers in England. This issue has, however, not been resolved for young people in Wales and Scotland. We will continue to campaign for this change in the law to be replicated”.

Currently, local authorities in England fund the cost of children in foster care until they reach 18. At that point, support varies across the country. In many areas, teenagers are forced to live by themselves at an age when others would remain at home. Statistics from the Department for Education revealed only 10 more young people stayed with their foster carers after the age of 18 in 2012-13 than in 2011-12.

Natasha Finlayson, chief executive of the Who Cares? Trust, which supports children in care, said: “This represents the most significant reform to the support children in care are given in a generation.  Time and again we hear from young people who are extremely anxious about having to leave their carers when they turn 18 and effectively no longer having somewhere they can call home, especially when the average age for young people who aren’t in care to finally leave home is (at least) 24.”

SEN Conference – Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants

The last session of the Hampshire County Council SEN Conference was entitled “Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants” and led by Rob Webster, Principal Special Needs Officer

HCC governor services

Working in HCC since April 2013.  Was at the Institute of Education in London before that.

Some aims:

  • Understand why schools need to examine how TAs are used
  • Take a closer look at factors that affect TAs effectiveness
  • What is the role and purpose of TAs?
  • Explore things shcools could do different.  Maximising the impact of TAs.


There is an assumption that TAs help raise pupil standards, but there had been little systematic research on impact over long-term and under everyday classroom conditions – there had been bits on literacy interventions etc.  The Deployment and Impact of Support Staff (DISS) project (2009) focussed on all support staff, especially TAs.  This then led to the Effective Deployment of TAs (EDTA) in 2011.

Scale of the DISS project

  • 17,800+ biennial national questionaire survey.
  • Analysis of impact of TA uspport on 8,200 pupils in 153 mainstream schools.
  • Observations of 680+ pupils and 100+ TAs in 114 schools.
  • Detailed case studies in 65 cschools.
  • Interviews with 280+ heads, SENCos, teachers and TAs.
  • Analysis of adult-to-pupil talk (teacher and TAs) in 16 lessons

Comparison of TA Support verses non TA Support within a classroom environment.

Year National Curriculum sub-level
English Maths Science
1 -1.5 -1
2 -1.5 -1 -1
3 -2 -2
6 -1 -0.75 -1
7 -2 -1.5
9 -1 -0.75 -1
10 -1*


  • expressed as 1 GCSE grade


  • Pupils with Statements profoundly affected by current arrangements: those with the most TA support, made the least progress.
  • Used statistical techniques that control for variables known to affect attainment (e.g. SEN, FSM, prior attachment).
  • It is NOT the fault of TAs
  • Organisational and structural factors over which TAs have little or no control.

Issues of

  • Conditions of employment
  • Preparedness
  • Characteristics

DISS: Which pupils do adults work with


Interaction by pupil level of SEN Teacher TA
Non-SEN 55% 27%
School Action 24% 32%
School Action Plus or SEN statement 21% 41%

TAs rarely worked with middle and higher attaining pupils.  The higher the level of need, the more interaction with TAs and the less interaction the teachers.

  • Teachers spent more time explaining concepts.  TA explanations were sometimes inaccurate or confusing.
  • Teachers provided more feedback.  TAs more likely to prompt pupils and supply answers.
  • Teachers linked current lesson to pupils’ prior knowledge, promoted pupils’ thinking and cognitive engagement in a task.  TAs more concerned with task completion.
  • Teachers ‘open up’ talk; TAs close talk down.


  • 75% teachers have no training to work with/manage TAs
  • 75% teachers no allocated planning or feedback time.
  • Teacher-TA meetings depended on TA’s goodwill.
  • TAs underprepared: having to tune into teachers talk for content/instructions.

Key messages from the research

  • Pupils with SEN receive more support from TAs than teachers
  • TA support is alternative to teacher support – not additional
  • Pupils with SEN separated from classroom, teacher and peers
  • TAs have main responsibility for teaching pupils with statements
  • Training for teachers key factor in current arrangements
  • TAs pedagogical input is well intentioned, but unlikely to narrow attainment gap
  • Currency of statements seem problematic as written in hours for TA.

Implications for practice

  • A fundamental rethink is required if schools are going to get the best use from their TAs – and help pupils.
  • Organisational and strucutral factors need attention:
  • Deployment of TAs (and teachers)
  • Practice: TAs interactions with pupils
  • Preparedness of teachers and TAs.

Rethinking the TA’s role

  • Pupil Premium is built on spending the money leading to outcomes, but that isn’t the case.  It is how and on what you spend it than can cause outcomes to be met.

Effective Deployment of TAs Project

  • Collaborated with 40 teachers and TAs in 10 schools (20 pairs) with the aim to develop and evaluated alternative strategies to TA preparedness, deployment and practice under normal funding.
  • Developed over one academic year, spending one term on each of the three areas.
  • This has become the basis for Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants which has a programme of work that any school can work through and examine how they use TAs.

Conduct an audit

  • Changes cannot be decided until you know what requires change.
  • Decision-makers: make sure you know what you think you know.
  • Obtain objective and subjective pictures of current practice.
  • Opportunity to identify and build on existing good practice.
  • Check out

Decisions about deployment

What do you want the role and purpose of TAs to be?  Teaching role and non-teaching roles (admin, SEAL, mobility, class organisation).  This is a collaborative process of challenge and change – not about assessing how effective TAs are.  The problem arise when TA role “drifts” from non-teaching towards teaching.  25% of the school workforce are currently TAs.

Key questions

  • Can/should TAs be as effective as teachers without the same professional development?  Or pay?
  • Should TAs routinely teach pupils with the most demanding SEN?
  • If TAs can be as effective as TAs then teachers should be worried as they cost a lot less!

TAs and Pupils with SEN

What OFSTED are looking for:

Quality of teaching – Inspectors must evaluate the use that is made of TAs.

The Teacher is responsible for progress and development of all pupils.

TAs and Interventions

When TAs lead interventions they often get positive outcomes.  Why does this impact get lost in the terms of wider/annual attainment?  There often seems to be the world of the Classroom and the world of the TA with the pupils having to make the link themselves.  Teachers and TAs need to help them make sense of this.  An interventions health check:

  • Are we using good intervention programmes, are we using good programmes badly?
  • Do we need to update the training?
  • How effective are our reporting mechanisms to teachers?
  • Do teachers engage with interventions and progress data?

Making best use of TAs time

A third of the time teachers are just being part of the classroom audience – that raises questions around value for money.  The TA repeats word-for-word the teachers instructions for a specific child, creating “stereo-teaching” – the child is now trying to listen to two voices instead of one.

Decisions about Practice

Set TAs free from unhelpful patterns of behaviour that underpin less effective types of talk:

  • The impulse to complete tasks
  • Not allowing time for pupils to think and respond
  • Taking peer role of “talk partner”

Teachers use more open ended questions than TAs who used closed questioning.    Need to reflect on forms of questioning that keep responsibility for learning with pupil.  Pupils can become dependent on TA, they can almost not engage with work unless TA does the work for the pupil.  Changing this helps to avoid spoon-feeding and pupils developing independence.

Key Findings

All the schools involved made widespread changes “no going back” to how things were.  Teachers spent more time with pupils with SEN – a professional satisfaction.

  • Teachers made better use of TA time in lessons.
  • TAs questioning improved.
  • Quality and clarity of lesson plans improved; less “going in blind”.
  • TAs feel more valued, appreciated, more confident about role.


Questions, Comments, Discussion

  • In your research were TAs more effectively used in Primary than Secondary given they more often stay in 1 classroom?  The research seems to suggest not, but there are greater challenges in secondary schools moving from classroom to classroom, where inconsistency is much more of an issue according to the research.
  • Where were the schools located?  The first study was from England & Wales and representative of the population, e.g. rural v urban.


Further reading

  • Reassessing the impact of Teaching Assistants – that’s the research
  • Maximising the Impact of Teaching Assistants – designed for Head Teachers and Teachers
  • Teaching Assistants: A guide to good practice – download at

Education and schools work update

Headlines from the world of education and schools work:

Education and schools work update

Headlines from the world of education and schools work:

Education and schools work update

Headlines from the world of education and schools work: