Thursday, 17 July 2014

Press Release from Education Committee

Into independence, not out of care: 16 plus care options 
Publication of the Committee’s Second Report of Session 2014–14.

Ban the use of B&Bs for looked after young people and regulate all ‘other arrangements’, say MPs.

Young adults should not be forced to leave care before they turn 21, should only be provided with regulated accommodation and should not be placed in a bed and breakfast, argues the Education Committee in a report about 16 plus care options.

Launching the report, the Chair of the Education Committee, Mr Graham Stuart, said today:

“Looked after young people moving towards adulthood deserve a well-supported transition to independence rather than an abrupt push out of care.

“We launched this inquiry because we were concerned about the level of care and quality of support provided for older adolescents. We have now been persuaded of just how serious the problems are in this area and our report sets out the steps that must be taken to improve 16 plus care options”.

“For too many looked after young people, their ambition to move to semi-independent or independent living at the age of 16 or 17 results in them being placed in accommodation that is neither safe nor suitable.

“The lack of regulation and inspection for the range of accommodation used is shocking. We urge the DfE to consult on the introduction of a regulatory framework for all accommodation that falls within the catch-all term ‘other arrangements’.

“The DfE asserts that B&Bs are not considered to be suitable. Far from being merely unsuitable, this kind of housing is frequently both threatening and frightening to a young person. Their continued use shows that the current guidance is clearly inadequate.

“The DfE should consult urgently with local authorities to determine a reasonable timeframe for the outright ban on the use of B&Bs for looked after young people. In the meantime, the message is plain: B&Bs are not suitable and should only be used in extreme, emergency situations and even then, never for more than a few days”.

“While we strongly endorse the current Staying Put policy, it applies only to looked after young people living in foster care.  Yet those in residential children’s homes are often the most vulnerable and in need of extended support. We recommend that Staying Put be extended to residential children’s homes so that all looked after young people can benefit from the much needed stability this policy brings”.

The report also calls for:

·         The DfE to ensure that looked after young people approaching independence are fully and effectively informed of their rights and entitlements and that they are given a genuine choice of accommodation.

·         Clearer and stronger guidance to the effect that local authorities consider, as a first option, carers and professionals with whom a young person has an established relationships as a Personal Adviser.

·         Changes to guidance on ‘pathway planning’ specifically to include relationships with siblings.

·         Local authorities to report to the DfE on their use of B&B accommodation for looked after young people.

·         Leaving care services to be extended to the age of 25, without exception.

·         The DfE to remind all local authorities of their statutory duty to postpone any unnecessary and disruptive placement change during Key Stage 4.

·         A duty upon local authorities to ensure that a young person’s transition out of care is postponed until after the end of an academic year following their 18th birthday.

·         The DfE to issue explicit guidance on young people’s right to stay in ‘other arrangements’ until they are 21.

·         The DfE to examine models of Staying Close and, if they are shown to improve young people’s outcomes, issue best practice guidance on such models for situations in which a young person’s preference is to Stay Close rather than Stay Put.

The report  is available here: 

Committee Membership is as follows: 
Mr Graham Stuart (Chair), Conservative, Beverley and Holderness
Neil Carmichael, Conservative, Stroud
Alex Cunningham, Labour, Stockton North
Bill Esterson, Labour, Sefton Central
Pat Glass, Labour, North West Durham
Siobhain McDonagh, LabourMitcham and Morden
Ian Mearns, Labour, Gateshead
Caroline Nokes, Romsey and Southampton North
Mr Dominic Raab, Esher and Walton
Mr David Ward, Liberal Democrat, Bradford East
Craig Whittaker, Conservative, Calder Valley

Specific Committee Information: / 020 7219 1333
Media Information: Hannah Pearce: / 020 7219 8430 / 07917488162
Twitter: @commonsEd  
Watch committees and parliamentary debates online: 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

WW1 Centenary

There are lots of events this year for the WW1 Centenary. And oddly enough, I'm involved in two of them. The first event takes place in the medical library where I work, the North Middlesex University Hospital, where I will be curating a WW1 exhibition. 

Coleridge East Ward - Notice the flowers!
During WW1, in 1915 the Infirmary, its equipment and its staff were requisitioned by the War Office. The patients were relocated to the workhouse and the Infirmary became the Edmonton Military Hospital. The operating theatre, being new, was quite adequate but a larger steriliser was installed and an X-ray Department added. Large huts were built in the grounds to house even more patients, increasing the bed complement to over 1,000. The kitchen was well-ordered to cope with preparing meals for this number, and even had a sausage-making machine to make some 900-1000 sausages a day, and a motorised potato-peeling machine (it was made by the Imperial Machine Co. of Cricklewood Lane and had cost £29, although the 'eyes' of the potatoes had to be removed by hand). In August 1917 Princess Louise visited the Hospital and officially opened a Y.M.C.A. Recreation Hut, painted in blue and fawn. During the Spanish 'flu epidemic in 1918 five nurses died of it in the course of their duties. The Hospital was decommissioned in 1920 and reorganised for civilian use as the North Middlesex Hospital. The exhibition will include photographs, letters, and medical reports.

The second event takes place at Stephens House & Gardens WW1 Centenary celebrations where some of the Greenacre/Finchley Literary Festival participants are involved, Tuesday August 5th

12-1pm A.L. Michael is running a creative writing workshop for kids, centred around WW1. Write stories, poems and letters inspired by life at that time, and the perspectives of those at home and on the front lines. An interactive and educational creative workshop. 
1.30-3pm Rosie Canning (ME!) is running a creative writing workshop using World War One letters, photos and artefacts as inspiration. Rosie will spark your creativity and imagination, using creative writing exercises to take you back in time to WW1 from the safety of the bunker. 

3-4pm Come and have afternoon tea in the lovely drawing room at Stephens House and listen to Sarah Harrison read from her bestselling WW1 novel, The Flowers of the Field and hear how she got the idea to write the book and all about the WW1 research.

Oddly enough, the purpose of this week is for Stephens House & Gardens to provide a focus to remember those that served and the many that suffered especially those treated within Avenue House when it was seconded as a hospital.