Local government

London council launches free school meals pilot scheme | Education

A scheme to offer pupils free school breakfast and lunch irrespective of income has been launched in an attempt to tackle the growing food poverty crisis in parts of the UK. Hammersmith and Fulham council rolled out the scheme in west London on Wednesday. It said the national free school meals system was not working, leaving many children going to school hungry and remaining hungry throughout the day. Officials say the threshold for families to qualify for free school meals…

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Which party is tackling the injustice of grammar schools? None has the guts | Fiona Millar | Education

Whatever the outcome of the general election, one group of heads will have every reason to be content. The leaders of England’s 163 grammar schools have made it through another campaign with barely a word uttered about the bastions of privilege over which they preside. How different from 2017, when Theresa May’s retro idea to create new grammar schools ensured that the arguments for selection (slim) and against (substantial) were rehearsed frequently and loudly. In the end, the hung parliament…

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Some councils’ school transport costs nearly as high as child social care | Education

Councils in England have warned that home-to-school transport, on which many children with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) depend, is under threat because of “unsustainable” costs and insufficient funding. A report commissioned by the Local Government Association (LGA) and County Councils Network has revealed that councils are spending more on home-to-school transport than they spend on children’s centres, family support or youth services. In some areas where the costs of transport are disproportionately high, often because of long distances…

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Special needs children are being failed | Letters | Education

This is the most damning select committee report I’ve ever read (Children with special needs plunged into ‘nightmare of bureaucracy’, 23 October). Line after line, it shows that the education system for disabled children is completely broken. Parents are forced to become protesters, lawyers and bureaucrats to stand any sort of chance of getting the support their child is legally entitled to. The government now has a golden opportunity to carry out a root and branch review of the system,…

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Special educational needs reforms ‘failing generation of children’ | Education

A cross-party committee of MPs has accused the government of failing a generation of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (Send) in a damning new report which calls for radical change across the system. The report, by the education select committee, said ambitious government reforms, introduced in 2014 to improve the experiences of Send pupils and their families, had been poorly implemented with damaging consequences for many. Children had been left without the additional support they…

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Funding cuts take toll on support for visually impaired pupils | Education

Thousands of children and young people with vision impairment (VI) are being failed because of a shortage of funds for specialist education services, research by the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has found. Less than half (44%) of councils in England have either cut or frozen funding for educational support for VI children, putting specialist provision under significant pressure, according to the RNIB report. A similar proportion (43%) have already had reductions in specialist staff and increasing workloads…

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Dear Gavin Williamson, outsourcing excluded pupils to new free schools won’t help | Michael Rosen | Education

I see you will be “pushing for something that isn’t often the focus of dinner party debate”: alternative provision, especially for children who have been or are at risk of being expelled from mainstream schools. Your solution for this is a “new wave” of free schools. As I write, I’m aware you’re not in a position to “push” for anything because parliament isn’t sitting and you are part of a minority government. I’m also not sure what dinner parties have…

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School bus cost-cutting splits villages and families – and removes choice | Education

Parental choice now depends on ability to pay in some rural areas, where a new school bus policy to cut costs is splitting families and communities. Children suffering severe anxiety, parents fearing they may have to give up their jobs to drive one child to class behind a bus transporting a sibling – these images are a far cry from the happy picture of school choice successive governments have tried to project. In Suffolk, father-of-two Tristan Wood finds the stress…

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Children in need of speech and language therapy face postcode lottery | Education

Spending on speech and language therapy has fallen in many areas of the country and children in need of SLT are subject to a postcode lottery of provision because of huge disparities across England, research has found. The study by the children’s commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, says that too many vulnerable young children are missing out on vital support in their earliest years, with far-reaching implications for their progress and life chances. It is the first time data has…

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