Archive | April, 2017

Mental Health: a case for placing it centre-stage

18 Apr

I           The Health and Education Select Committee

In the last week of March 2017, MPs on the Health and Education Select Committee received oral evidence from experts in the final session of their joint inquiry into the role of education in preventing mental health problems in children and young people.

Baroness Tyler of Enfield, the chair of the values-based child and adolescent mental-health system commission, Lord Layard, director of the Well-Being Programme at the London School of Economics, and Natasha Devon, a former government mental health champion, among others, presented evidence.

The main points raised during the session included the following.

  1. Embedding well-being and mental health awareness across the whole school was very important. Baroness Tyler explained that well-being in the school context includes parents and teachers. She welcomed the move to place Sex and Relationships education (SRE) on a statutory footing and called for compulsory personal, social, economic and health education (PSHE) in all schools.
  2. Senior leaders should be encouraged to measure how schools were influencing the well-being of children through surveys, and their integration into school improvement plans. Lord Layard asked the committee to run a pilot with volunteer schools to re-balance the present focus on measuring academic performance only.
  3. The impact of school funding pressures on mental health should be measured. Natasha Devon highlighted the effect of cuts on access to school support services including counsellors, to the enrichment curriculum and to subjects like sports, drama and music which support positive mental health.

The cross-party group of MPs on the Committee questioned ministers on their record on education and children’s mental health. Edward Timpson MP, Minister of State for Vulnerable Children and Families, said: “There was still much to be done” to address patchy and variable access to mental health services for young people across the country.

The MPs involved recognised that governing boards are responsible for promoting the well-being of children and young people and required to ensure that they set a supportive ethos and culture.

Continue reading

Supreme Court rules against term-time holidays for pupils

18 Apr

Jon Platt, a parent living in the Isle of Wight, lost his long-running battle in the Supreme Court on 6 April 2017 with the Council to take his daughter on a seven-day trip to Disney-land in Florida, USA. He had contested the Council’s £60-fine imposed following her absence.  He had argued that his daughter had had a good attendance record leaving parents such as he free to take their children on term-time holidays.

The High Court had backed his case but referred the matter to the Supreme Court.  The Government fought him in that arena, fearing that if he won it would open the floodgates for other parents/carers to make mayhem of their children’s school attendance.

Continue reading

Assessing Assessments

18 Apr

Assessments in English schools are in a state of flux. There appears to be little likelihood that the government will be bring about a measure of clarity any time soon.   What exactly is happening?

Continue reading

Data Protection law to be strengthened in 2018: Impact on Schools

18 Apr

Complying with the requirements of the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998 is daunting.   A problem area is managing sensitive personal data.  Data on ethnicity, religion, union membership, medical information, special educational needs and disability (SEND) status, looked-after children, assistance or bursary recipients and sexual orientation are classed as sensitive. A school must have an operational need and/or explicit consent to process this data otherwise it is in contravention to the DPA.  Only people who need to use sensitive data for professional purposes can access it.  Consequently, such data should be accessed only with a password.

A separate taxing issue is making available all the data the school holds on a person to that person when s/he requests it and do so within one month of the request – part of the Freedom for Information (FoI) Act 2000.

Non-compliance has not led to much trouble so far.  In the second half of 2016, only 40 data security incidents – vis-à-vis the education sector in England – were reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).  However, very few school staff members are trained in how to comply with the DPA.  They will now need to be (trained) because the present system of managing data will change with the General Protection Data Regulations (GPDR) coming into force on 25 May 2018. This is a part of the European law which will take effect despite Brexit.

Continue reading