Policy and practice round-up May 2012

24 May 2012

As the Olympic flame winds its way around the UK we give you a tour of the most recent policy announcements from the Department for Education; the BFI’s consultation on new film education plans; news on music hubs; a new qualification for cultural practitioners, museum development and library consultations from Arts Council England; and a video of the Big Dance Schools Pledge record-breaking attempt.

News from the Department of Education

The DfE has been busy this month announcing plans to change legislation. Amongst the raft of announcements, we have picked out some of the highlights.

Subject to Parliamentary Approval, plans are in place to remove the legislation that drives Ofsted to annually assess local authority Children's Services. From the announcement, it is not clear whether or not this will be replaced with a different accountability measure.

The Children and Families Bill was announced this month in the Queen's Speech and included legislation on adoption, parenting, family law, and the Office of the Children's Commissioner. It is expected to be introduced in 2013. Here are some of the headlines:

Special Education Needs

Plans for:

  • replacing SEN statements and Learning Difficulty Assessments (for 16- to 25-year-olds) with a single, simpler 0-25 assessment process and Education, Health and Care Plan from 2014
  • providing statutory protections comparable to those currently associated with a statement of SEN to up to 25 in further education – instead of it being cut off at 16
  • requiring local authorities to publish a local offer showing the support available to disabled children and young people and those with SEN, and their families
  • giving parents or young people with Education, Health and Care Plans the right to a personal budget for their support
  • introducing mediation for disputes and trialing giving children the right to appeal if they are unhappy with their support.

The legislation would draw on evidence from 20 local pathfinders set up in September 2011. The interim evaluation reports are due in summer and late autumn 2012, with a final report in 2013.

Ministers have committed to making all the necessary legal changes to put in place reforms proposed in the Support and Aspiration Green Paper. Anne Longfield, Chief Executive of 4Children has responded here.

Office for the Children's Commissioner

Plans for:

  • strengthening the Commissioner’s remit – with a new overall function to “promote and protect children’s rights” as set out in the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child
  • widening the Commissioner’s remit to include the functions of the Children’s Rights Director in Ofsted
  • granting new powers to carry out assessments of the impact of new policies and legislation on children’s rights and underline existing duties on government and public services to publish formal responses to Commissioner’s reports
  • giving more independence from ministers and report directly to Parliament – with Parliament playing a stronger role in scrutinising the Commissioner’s performance
  • granting future Commissioners a single six-year term of office. This follows Dr John Dunford’s independent review of the Office for Children’s Commissioner which reported in December 2010. You can read Maggie Atkinson's response on her blog here.

Against this backdrop Nick Clegg has been speaking about the pupil premium in a speech entitled Delivering Education’s Progressive Promise: Using the Pupil Premium to Change Lives. Included in his speech was the phrase: “Teachers are the key to an open & fair society: the key to build opportunity Britain.” Read more here.


The BFI is consulting on its new plans for film education and would like your thoughts. Have your say.The consultation is open until 10 June.

Arts Council Update

Congratulations to England's 122 new music education hubs announced on 4 May. Read all about them here. For some flavor of what to expect read Tom Service’s Guardian blog: ‘Hug a hub: music education heralds a new era of partnership’.

Creative practitioner qualification

Arts Council and CCSkills have been developing a qualification for creative practitioners working with children and young people in schools and other settings. This could be an important tool for our sector by ensuring a baseline of quality knowledge is held by cultural learning practitioners through a qualification that schools recognise. Have your say on the content of the qualification. Online consultation is here, deadline is the 8 June.

The Future of Libraries

Arts Council England is running a consultation on the future of the library: Envisioning the Library of the Future. It is running regional road shows, analysing data and consulting virtually via a blog. What do you think the purpose of libraries is and how can it be delivered? Get involved to have your say and let us know if you have any specific ideas on libraries, learning and young people.


The nine organisations that have been selected to provide development support for regional museums were announced on 10 May. We look forward to hearing more information about how they are going to work with the Bridge Organisations in their regions.

Arts Council has also opened applications for its Subject Specialist Network Fund to support the sharing of knowledge and expertise of specialist collections across the country. Grants of between £1,000 and £10,000 are available.

Big Dance Big Schools Pledge

Last week saw the opening of Big Dance 2012 with the Big Dance Schools Pledge – a world record attempt with children from all over the world learning a routine and performing at the same time. Take a look at some film of the event.