Tim Loughton – 2012 Speech at Sexual Assault Referral Centre

Below is the text of the speech made by Tim Loughton in Manchester on 23 February 2012.

As you all know, tackling child sexual exploitation is an issue we have put at the very top of the Government agenda – and I am grateful to St Mary’s for the invitation to come along and speak about our plans for the year ahead.

From the Prime Minister down, we are absolutely committed to reducing the number of young people who fall victim to abuse, and we are working closely with the sector to progress last November’s child sexual exploitation plan.

Thanks to the thoughtful and expert contributions of organisations like St Mary’s, we’ve managed to create and implement real reforms. So let me begin by offering my thanks to Bernie and Catherine, as well as Gail, Claire and Naomi for the invaluable work they do as independent sexual violence advisors. I must also thank Lynne for her work as child advocate and, of course, the wider team for their support. I know thousands of victims each year are grateful beyond words for the belief, support and respect they find in St Mary’s – and I thank you for the work you are doing to raise awareness around sexual violence.

For too long, child sexual exploitation has been a hidden issue, with many local areas completely failing to collate any information, facts or figures on the extent of the problem in their communities. We are now gathering better intelligence on the scale of abuse and it’s clear there are no grounds for complacency. CEOP did a major assessment in 2011 and reported practitioners telling them: “If you lift the stone, you’ll find it.”

A young victim quoted in Sue Jago’s University of Bedfordshire paper said, heartbreakingly: “It’s not hidden – you just aren’t looking.” And Barnardo’s released its excellent ‘Puppet on a String’ report last year, after which Anne Marie Carrie, the charity’s chief executive, described sexual violence against children over 10 as “the most pressing child protection issue”.

My strong sense is that this country is waking up to the fact young people are being sexually exploited not in the dozens or the hundreds, but very probably the thousands – and at this point, I must pay thanks to all the Local Safeguarding Children Board chairs who are now knocking at our doors to help tackle this challenge. Slowly but surely, we are making real progress. But there is there is always room, and reason, for improvement and as lead minister, I am personally determined that everything that can be done, is done, to make our children safer.

We took a big step forward by releasing the action plan in November with the close support of the sector – and I want to pay particular thanks to organisations like the Safe and Sound Project in Derby, CEOP, the Home Office, the Department for Health, Barnardo’s, CROP and many others for sharing their expertise with our department.

As many here will know, the plan looks at different aspects of sexual exploitation from the perspective of the young person and their journey, analysing what can go wrong and what should happen at every step.

Together, we identified four key stages where we needed better intervention.

First, raising awareness of this issue with young people, parents and professionals.

Second, taking effective multi-agency action against exploitation and helping children who are victims to get out of it.

Third, securing robust prosecutions and improving court processes to reinforce the fact this is a serious crime that demands serious punishment.

And fourth, helping children and families who are caught up in sexual exploitation to get their lives back on track.

On awareness raising, the plan sets out the need for government to work with ACPO, health professional bodies and the Social Work Reform Board to make sure exploitation is covered in training and guidance for professionals. And we are going to see how we can improve the way young people are taught about sexual consent and relationships.

On multi-agency action, we are working with LSCBs to help them treat child sexual exploitation as a far greater problem than it has been seen in the past. And we are going to continue to help organisations like St Mary’s, with funding already committed to support 87 independent sexual violence advisor posts over the next four years.

On bringing abusers to justice, we are working with police, the CPS, judges and magistrates to ensure young witnesses and victims are fully supported through the legal process. And we are working hard to increase the use of special measures in courts so we can ease the stress and anxiety of criminal proceedings on young people.

Finally, on supporting survivors, (a function St Mary’s performs so expertly) the action plan outlines the need for councils to share their knowledge of what works more widely, so we can spread high quality counselling and support services out across the country.

The big challenge we face this year is to turn the action plan into action, and we will be working to make sure all the different work strands in child protection are brought together cohesively.

In particular, we want to make sure Professor Munro’s review of child protection, our work on adoption and fostering and the child sexual exploitation plan are properly synchronised. There are already some very positive signs that we are on the right track – and we had an encouraging meeting last month with sector representatives to talk about progress so far.

Amongst other things, we are talking to Ofsted about the best way of supporting their inspectors so they can check local authorities are responding appropriately in cases where sexual exploitation has been identified. We have set up a task and finish group, which includes several LSCB chairs among its membership. The group is identifying the barriers facing LSCBs in tackling sexual abuse involving young people, and it is also looking at what can be done to get high quality advice and guidance circulating around the country, as well as best practice.

On top of all this, we are working hard to raise awareness among young people of the potential dangers. Children must be able to make informed choices. They must be able to recognise and manage risk, and they must have the awareness to make safe decisions. This is why sex and relationship education is a key constituent of the wider personal, social, health and economic education review we are undertaking.

At the same time, we are working to raise awareness among practitioners – and I have asked both the Social Work Reform Board, and the College of Social Work, to think about how child sexual exploitation can best be addressed in social work training. We expect to be able to say more about all this in the Spring in the implementation update report we will be publishing.

Finally, I must mention the progress we are making with Sheila Taylor, chair of the National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People, to share best practice more effectively. The working group, for those not in the know, is a charity that provides advice and support to 500 members. Sheila has a direct line into 37 different police forces and advises a number of LSCB chairs on how they can tackle exploitation effectively.

There are some authorities out there doing robust and reliable risk assessments of the nature and extent of the issue in their areas – with some examples of good practice in working together to identify abuse and respond to it. But we need every LSCB to treat exploitation as a top priority – not just some. The 2009 statutory guidance contained many valuable lessons yet all too often they have not been acted on. It’s good guidance, it should be used, and every LSCB should be proactively talking about it.

I do not, however, want anyone to leave here under the impression that tackling child sexual exploitation ‘belongs’ to the Department for Education alone. A huge amount of work is underway right across government and it is vital that this is seen for what it is: a complete package of wraparound support for vulnerable young people – not a series of individual, disparate or disconnected offers.

At the Home Office, Lynne Featherstone and her team have set up a working group to address the very specific issues around violence against women and girls in gangs. At the Department for Health, Anne Milton hosted a summit in November with colleagues from the Royal Colleges, NHS and the voluntary sector to discuss the role of health professionals in supporting young victims of sexual exploitation. This group is set to meet a further three times over the coming months. Topics on the table will include how to help health professionals recognise the indicators of sexual abuse in children; how to make sure staff are in a position to ask questions sensitively; and how to help them make the right referrals to local services.

Last but definitely not least, there is substantial progress being made at the Attorney General’s Office and the Ministry of Justice. At the end of last year, we announced that anyone convicted of a second serious sexual or violent offence, including serious child sex offences, will receive a mandatory life sentence – a long overdue, and long awaited amendment to the law I think you’ll agree.

On top of this, we are very clear that courts must improve prosecution procedures, particularly in supporting child victims to act as witnesses. I have heard horror stories of survivors being cross-examined by multiple defence barristers, and this must stop. There are a number of special measures courts can take when vulnerable witnesses are involved – we want to see them used to the full.

Our challenge in the months ahead, is to bring all this work together and make sure it is focused, completely, on the perspective of the victim and their families. The experience of young people who engage with the child protection system and, as I just mentioned, the courts, is still too mixed. Survivors complain about the unsympathetic, grey culture of ticking boxes. They worry they will not be believed; and they are anxious about a system that can describe a 13-year-old girl having sex with a 35-year-old man as ‘consensual’.

Ultimately, this is why so many young people are scared of talking about their experience of abuse. According to figures from St Mary’s, 72 per cent of children do not tell anyone about their ordeal at the time it happens. 31 per cent do not reveal their secret until adulthood.

We must make it easier for children to come forward. We must make it easier for professionals to spot the danger signals. And we must equip parents with the information and guidance they need.

Mothers and fathers have a big role to play in helping youngsters make healthy, informed choices about relationships and sexual health – equipping them, in turn, to avoid situations that put them at risk of exploitation.

I am anxious that too many parents are sleepwalking into danger by failing to recognise the signals or warning signs, and I was chilled by the words of Emma Jackson in the Independent about her experience of abusers, saying (and I quote), that “they’ll have anybody – doctors’ children, lawyers’ children – anybody”.

This is an important point. All the evidence indicates that child sexual exploitation can affect any family – and I can’t over emphasise that the fact it takes place in a particular family does not mean that the family is a ‘bad’ one, or that the parents have failed. Before coming here today, I watched a sobering video in which a father from St Mary’s likened the shock of discovering that his child had been abused to “having your own heart ripped out” – and we should never forget that victims, and their families, often require long term support and counselling.

The Whitney Dean case in Eastenders touched on many of these issues and I applaud the BBC for its sensible, sensitive and insightful treatment of the storyline. On top of this, I know St Mary’s has worked with the producers of Hollyoaks to provide expert advice on the presentation of issues around sexual violence – and I commend you for it. We cannot do too much to raise awareness of child exploitation or to educate those involved of its dangers.

Let me finish with a final thank you to St Mary’s and its staff for hosting today’s conference. I labour this point in every speech I make because it is an important one. But I must repeat my message that the vast majority of children in this country grow up safe from harm. The work you are doing is vital to ensuring this remains the case and I hope our action plan shows we are heading in the right direction.

Thank you.

Tim Loughton – 2011 Speech to Fostering Network

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Below is the text of the speech made by Tim Loughton, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, on 22 November 2011.

I must start by paying my thanks to the Fostering Network. I admire it hugely and I am grateful to Robert, his team and all your members for their support over the last year.

In particular, let me thank you for your involvement on the Foster Carers’ Charter and for the excellent guide you have developed on putting it into practice. Finally, let me pay special thanks to the Fostering Network for its support to local services in their recruitment of foster carers.

The unique skills and dedication of carers are absolutely essential to improving the lives of looked after children. And the Government is very clear that we must attract more skilled people into fostering as a top priority.

I saw a quote in the Guardian earlier this year in which a carer described her six years of fostering as “a very humbling job”.

I meet foster carers up and down the country all the time in my work – and I can assure you this modest, unassuming assessment of their role is characteristic of most.

So, I am delighted we are now working with the Fostering Network to help local services recruit more of their calibre through programmes like Foster Carer Fortnight.

In the last month, we have stepped through the gears once again.

And there has been a lot of positive media around adoption with the launch of Give a Child a Home. Unfairly I think, fostering missed out on some of the headlines.

Let me start therefore, by saying that this Government is as committed to fostering as ever.

We did not publish Give a Child a Home to promote one service over another.

We published it to get to grips with improving outcomes for kids in care. Whether it be in fostering; residential homes; special guardianship orders; or – for a small proportion – adoption.

The Fostering Network’s role in reducing that gap between young people in care – and those living outside of care – has been particularly pronounced over the last year.

Together, we launched the Foster Carers’ Charter in March. We published the revised regulations, guidance and national minimum standards in April.

We rolled out the Fostering Changes parenting programme. And we have secured very nearly £2.5m in funding between 2011 and 2013 for multi-dimensional treatment foster care and KEEP, which help foster carers respond positively to the needs of the children in their care and address the treatment needs of foster children – particularly those with more challenging problems.

But of course we always need to do more, not least at a time of growing numbers of children coming into care.

And I thought the importance of your work was very effectively underlined at the launch of the report from the Safeguarding Children Research Initiative yesterday.

Once again, we saw that the majority of vulnerable children who are abused and maltreated at home, go on to do better in terms of their well-being and stability when they are placed in the care of councils.

For many of these children, this is thanks to the sensitive and expert care provided by their foster carers. In fact, we know that the vast majority of looked after young people – 74 per cent – are living with foster carers.

But as I say, we understand that there is more to do. In particular, there is the need that the report correctly identifies for more specialist provision – to help children overcome the difficulties they experience.

So, I can assure you now that next year will be just as busy as the last.

Amongst other things, we will be rolling out extra support to the most vulnerable children. We will be looking for better ways to support foster carers. And we will be working hard to support both fostering agencies and local authorities.

Let me take each of those areas in turn. Starting with vulnerable children.

We know looked after children need three things in place to achieve their potential. First, they must receive good parenting from every person involved in their lives. Not least foster carers.

Second, they need to be listened to and be given a real voice: a real say in the decisions that affect their future.

And third, there must be stability in their lives.

We are now tackling each of these areas and making good progress.

For example, we are working to improve young people’s health; placement stability; the successful transition to adulthood; and the daily experience of being in care.

I am also holding quarterly, face-to-face meetings with four groups of young people: those in care, those who have been adopted, children in residential homes and care leavers.

And I have set up the Tell Tim website where looked after children and foster carers can write in and let me know their concerns direct.

Finally of course, we are making huge strides to improve standards in education for our most vulnerable children.

Almost every time I meet young people in care, they tell me they need to enjoy the same opportunities in the classroom as their peers.

I am clear that this should mean providing extra support at every step of their education journey.

So, in the early years we are providing a weekly entitlement to 15 hours of free early education to all two year olds in care. Giving them the opportunity to learn, play and gain the necessary skills to do well when they start school.

We are allocating extra funding to schools to support the most disadvantaged pupils through the Pupil Premium. This will be allocated to all children who have been looked after for more than six months, as well as pupils on free school meals.

We are ensuring looked after children have an entitlement to the new 16 to 19 bursary, worth £1,200 per year – £400 more than they would have received under the Education Maintenance Allowance.

And we are funding local authorities to provide a minimum £2,000 higher education bursary to any care leaver starting a course of higher education – up until their 25th birthday.

Why is this activity so important? It is important because a decent education is absolutely core to giving looked after children a level playing field in opportunities.

My chief concern however – as minister for safeguarding – is to make sure children reach the school gates in the first place, and are ready to learn when they do.

We launched Professor Munro’s review of child protection just a month after taking Government. And from the start, we wanted it to be different.

Unlike other reviews of child protection, it was not commissioned as a knee-jerk response to a crisis.

We gave Professor Munro all the time she needed to conduct a considered review, consulting the frontline, as well as children and young people.

We are currently working our way through her recommendations. But I’m pleased to say I have already put in place three key principles for our work:

First, reducing bureaucracy and prescription.

Second, being child-centred.

And third, trusting skilled frontline professionals to use their judgment.

On this last point, I am unequivocal that the issue of trust is as relevant to fostering as it is to social care.

Foster carers are consummate professionals and we need to treat them as such. For too long, this simply hasn’t happened.

In the same Guardian article I mentioned at the start, Helen Clarke from the Fostering Network makes the point that ‘no-one becomes a foster carer for the money.’

I don’t dispute this. But I am very clear we must support families who open their doors to vulnerable children better than we have done in the past.

We want this to happen in three ways: First, through trust. Second, by ensuring they are not let down financially. And third, by providing proper training.

We introduced the new statutory framework and Foster Carers’ Charter to underline the importance of valuing foster carers, trusting them to take everyday decisions about their foster child, and involving them in care planning decisions.

I have a map on my office wall reminding me exactly which areas have signed up – and which haven’t. In the new year, I will be doing a full audit of sign up to the charter and the Government will be gathering and disseminating good practice.

I want all fostering services to be able to show that they have used the charter to engage with their foster carers, foster children and other partners on how to improve fostering services in their area.

The anecdotal evidence I have so far is positive. I know Foster Care Associations around the country have been doing excellent work with local authorities to develop the charter and support local improvements.

But I’m deeply concerned that foster carers are still telling me the revised fostering guidance is being followed well in some areas, poorly in others.

My main bugbear is the lack of movement in some communities on the delegation of authority to foster carers.

I was quite explicit about the importance of effective delegation of authority in my letter to directors of children’s services in August last year. Asking them to ‘give the maximum appropriate flexibility in making decisions relating to children in their care’.

The Fostering Network has produced an excellent toolkit to help councils improve their practice in this area. And the Foster Carers’ Charter also refers to proper delegation to foster carers.

I appreciate the difficulties for authorities who have to keep one eye on the legal framework governing parental responsibility.

But we know proper delegation is vital to foster carers’ providing excellent parenting. And children in care have told me it is vital to giving them the same opportunities as their peers.

There is no reason why a child should miss out on a school trip. It simply accentuates the feeling of difference between one child and another.

In my book, this is a simple matter of trust. And I am of the belief that if someone has taken the decision to look after another person’s child, the very least we can do is treat them as adults.

Quite clearly, this includes Government and that is why we are taking action in three significant areas.

First, we are calling on councils to end the sclerotic red tape that prevents people stepping forward to become foster carers.

Personally, I am particularly pleased that my colleague Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, is issuing guidance shortly to councils, making it crystal clear they should consider how their actions will help people looking to adopt or foster a child.

Currently there is a Catch-22 situation that is blighting prospective parents’ and carers’ efforts to do either: legislation rightly requires adopted and fostered children to have their own bedroom.

But currently it is often difficult for prospective foster carers to obtain a larger council house before their application to adopt or foster is approved.

The new guidance on allocating council homes will break down the barriers between different council departments, and ensure the needs of children will be considered. Along with the needs of those waiting to adopt or foster.

The second area of Government support is a financial one. And I am delighted that our plans for the Universal Credit recognise the uniquely valuable role they play.

Like now, we will be disregarding fostering payments when we work out carers’ entitlement to benefits, so families don’t lose out because of their goodwill.

Single foster carers, or nominated members of a fostering couple, will not be expected to search or be available for work until their youngest foster child reaches 16. And if needed by the foster child, this may be extended to both members of a couple or until the child leaves care.

Importantly, we also plan to introduce new provisions so that where a carer intends to continue fostering, they will be allowed up to eight weeks between placements before being expected to look for work.

The third and final area is training.

We understand that fostering is a 24/7 job that requires great skill. And I am pleased the Government is promoting the use of evidence-based interventions that help carers deal positively with the complex needs of looked after children.

Among the interventions that we know work best are Multi-dimensional Treatment Foster Care and KEEP. The feedback I have looked at over the last few months from both MTFC and KEEP has been strong. Amongst other quotes, I have seen the following from a foster carer: “KEEP has taught me how to see behind the behaviour and anticipate possible problems.”

And on MTFC, a quote from West Sussex Council saying: “We feel passionately that the MTFC model could be of much wider value to children”.

I am very clear that we must continue to support foster carers to do the best possible job. To make them feel valued. And to recognise the life changing role they play.

The final area I want to look at today, is support to fostering service providers and local authorities.

I am deeply concerned that there is still a great deal of local variation at the moment in outcomes for looked after children.

I can name one part of London where only 49 per cent of looked after children were in education, employment or training at 19. Equally, I can show you areas in the capital where 83 per cent are in education, employment and training .

This is my great frustration. There are some local authorities doing outstanding work on fostering. But we are terrible at spreading best practice in this country.

I took the decision to publish local authority performance tables to shine a light on this variability. One of the indicators will be on placement moves. And we will be taking tough action to deal with councils who are failing.

I opened a centre in London four-and-a-half years ago called the Ealing Horizons Centre. It provides fabulous ‘one stop shop’ support to children in care in the borough for things like school, counselling and career advice.

Some of the results it has achieved for their 400 plus children are quite extraordinary. Particularly in areas like the rates of children going on into higher education ,18 per cent as compared to a national average of six per cent of looked after children.

If outcomes and stability for vulnerable children are to improve, local authorities need to look at the way they strategically plan and commission services for looked after children.

And they need to look at best practice and spread it more widely. Can Ealing be replicated in Leeds, Manchester or Birmingham? Or perhaps there are elements that can simply be cherry picked.

On foster care specifically, I honestly don’t care whether a council uses in-house fostering services, agency services, or a combination of the two – just as long as they use the best services.

I will say this though, many independent fostering providers I have seen are at the cutting edge of innovation and I can promise you they are worth looking at.

The Fostering Network and its members are leading this innovation through the work they are doing with KPMG to trial social pedagogy in foster care. We piloted social pedagogy in children’s homes and I am a firm admirer of the child-centred, holistic approach it takes to service delivery.

My one piece of advice today is that local authorities should not turn a blind eye to this. As strategic commissioners, they need to make sure markets are effectively developed and managed (including both in-house and external placements) to ensure the very best outcomes are achieved.

At the very least, I want a level playing field between local authorities, and independent fostering agencies.

There are more than 65,000 looked after children in this country. 48,500 of them are in foster care. If we don’t spread best practice more widely and encourage innovation, the gap in outcomes between the top 10,000 and bottom 10,000 will continue to remain unacceptably large.

Over the next 18 months, I will do everything in my power to support councils, foster carers and fostering service providers to narrow those gaps. But in return, please do let us know where changes need to be made. And please do work to flatten out the huge gap in outcomes between local areas.

Let me finish by again stressing this Government’s commitment to foster care. This is a long journey. But we have taken important first steps in the last 18 months. I want those steps to become a sprint in the years ahead. And I want outcomes for looked after children to be transformed in the process.

Thank you.

Tim Loughton – 2012 Speech at National Youth Agency

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Below is the text of the speech made by Tim Loughton, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, at the National Youth Agency on 27 January 2012.

Thank you for that kind introduction. I’m delighted to be here today.
As you all know, youth and children’s services have been right at the top of our agenda over the last year – and I’d like to start by thanking you all for your help and support.

There’s been a huge amount of positive engagement from the sector in our work around children in care and adoption, in particular. Thanks to the thoughtful and expert contributions of professionals like you, we’ve managed to create and implement real reforms that are beginning to achieve real results.

As we start 2012, one area right at the top of our agenda – mine, my Department’s and, hopefully, yours – is policy around young people.

For too long young people in this country have had a raw deal. The media seems to jump at any opportunity to trot out negative stereotypes and insulting cliches. According to research by ‘Children and Young People Now’, over three quarters of press coverage of young people is negative (2009).

But the overwhelming majority of young people are responsible, hard-working and energetic. They are determined to make a better future for themselves and for others, and they are working hard to make it happen. And I’m not exaggerating – it’s a highly creditable statistic that more young people volunteer for charities and good causes than any other group in society.

Even in the disturbances last August, the vast majority of young people refused to join in with lawlessness and looting. Some went further.

In Sheffield, for example, Sheffield Futures – the city’s main provider of youth services and youth engagement groups – established a panel of young people representing all the local participation groups including Young Advisors, Sheffield Youth Council, and the UK Youth Parliament to help prevent the disturbances spreading to their city.

These young people couldn’t understand why anyone would want to wreck their own hometown – so they came up with a slogan to show their pride in Sheffield, ‘Steel City NOT Steal City’ . They used social media networks to contact other young people and passed on any useful information to the police, enabling officers to target potential hotspots in a low key way. They put together a leaflet explaining young people’s rights and responsibilities, which was distributed widely throughout Sheffield; and were interviewed on local radio and in local newspapers to show that young people were leading the way in opposing the riots.

Young people are taking action like this – positive, responsible, community-spirited action – every day. And we need to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to support them.

That’s why I’m proud to say that, last month, the Government published our new vision for young people and youth services – Positive for Youth.

For the first time, it brings together in one place everything the Government is doing to support young people between the ages of 13 and 19; actively supporting their success, and helping them to achieve their potential.

This single vision is the result of months of work with a wide range of partners – local authorities, private companies, voluntary sector organisations, at least 9 different Government departments and Ministers, and of course, the real experts: young people themselves.

I’d like to take this opportunity straight away to thank the Local Government Association, National Youth Agency, Association of Directors of Children’s Services and Confederation of Heads of Young People’s Services. They have all been incredibly helpful in developing Positive for Youth – and I know that we will depend on them over the coming months and years as we turn this vision into a reality.

Positive for Youth isn’t about creating something completely new; we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel. It’s about highlighting and celebrating excellent practice across the country. We’ve stuffed the paper full of examples from high-performing areas and I hope that these case studies will help all youth services to reach the level of the very best.

I’m delighted that expert organisations like the British Youth Council, the UK Youth Parliament, NYA, and 4Children, among others, are supporting our work and are ready and willing to play their part. They are also more than ready and willing to hold us to account if we don’t deliver on our ambitions – and I’m sure that many in this room would volunteer to do the same.

I know that many people are concerned that youth services have faced disproportionate cuts as councils look to tighten their belts in the current economic climate. And, I’ll be honest, I’m concerned too. But that’s why I want Positive for Youth to be a turning point in how we treat young people, and how we think about youth services.

It makes clear that there is no excuse to neglect youth services, or to treat them as an easy area to make savings. Prioritising youth services and young people is the right thing to do.

One area which has been proven to be crucial for young people’s success in life is educational attainment, and this Government has already announced – and made a start on – a significant programme of educational reforms, laid out in our White Paper, ‘The Importance of Teaching’. Just last week, we also set out a new strategy to increase young people’s participation in learning and work: ‘Building Engagement, Building Futures’.

We are raising the participation age for education or training to 17 in 2013 and 18 in 2015, and we will be depending on the support of Local Authorities in monitoring participation levels among 16 and 17 year olds, and working with the YPLA and providers to identify and fill gaps in provision.

As the participation age is raised, young people will need extra support – and the Youth Contract, in particular, worth over £1 billion, will support more 16 and 17 year olds to participate in education or training, expand opportunities for young apprenticeships, and help more young people find work.

But education isn’t the end of it. Young people don’t grow up in a vacuum – and their experiences outside school or college are just as crucial to their overall wellbeing.

Our goal is for all young people to have:

– supportive relationships;

– strong ambitions;

– and good opportunities.

If young people are already getting those things from their families, communities and schools: great. If not – Local Authorities and services can step in.

That’s why we are retaining the statutory duty on local authorities to provide sufficient services for young people.

This duty is about improving young people’s wellbeing, not just providing leisure activities. We’re keeping this legislation because it reflects the fact that a wide range of services for young people outside of school and college can have a significant impact on their life chances. We will be consulting soon on shorter, more concise statutory guidance that will make our expectations much more explicit.

It’s important to stress that we will not be defining a minimum standard or expectation for the offer to young people in each local area. Local areas are best placed to decide on what services they need, not central Government.

And when it comes to deciding what those services should be, there’s an obvious way to find out. After all, anyone who tried to buy Christmas presents for their teenagers will know that they have very definite views about what they want and what they don’t.
Our vision is for councils and young people to work together much more closely. Young people must be at the heart of planning local services – driving, shaping and reviewing everything they do.
Many councils are already doing this brilliantly. In Sheffield, for example, young inspectors use ‘mystery shoppers’ to review services for young people, from sports facilities to youth clubs and social venues and give them a star rating.

We want this to become the norm rather than the exception. And as well as improving services, this approach brings huge benefits for the young people themselves. One young inspector from Central Bedfordshire, quoted in our paper, said

I am gaining confidence as I can do things that I usually wouldn’t feel able to do. It is also beneficial because, being a young person, I benefit from improved services as a result of the inspections.

From now on, we want Local Authorities to commission an annual audit from young people – whether through a youth council or young inspectors or whatever works in that area.

And as well as the views of young people, Lead Members can use any available local and national data to keep track of their progress, benchmarking results against other areas like participation in education and training.

I would like all councils to publish the results of these audits. That way I’ll be able to recognise and celebrate the best examples – and ensure that those which are falling behind have the support they need to improve.

And I’d like to assure you that we are also giving young people the metaphorical keys to our kingdom.

As part of £850,000 funding to the British Youth Council in 2011-2012, a new national scrutiny group and youth select committee will monitor and advise on government policy, giving young people the chance to ‘youth proof’ government policy.

To help in demonstrating the impact of services for young people, we’re funding the Centre for the Analysis of Youth Transitions to develop standards for evidence. Catalyst is also going to develop an outcomes framework.

And centrally, we will publish annual data on measures for young people. At the end of this year we’ll publish a ‘one year on’ progress update to see how far we’ve come.

Because Positive for Youth is a positive paper, we won’t just be looking at problems averted, although that’s obviously vital. We also want to monitor the good things that have been achieved, the improvements that have been made and the opportunities that have been created.

In a tough economic climate, bringing in charities and businesses to help develop and provide youth services is an approach with huge potential.

There are already some superb projects going on all over the country, building links between local and national businesses, young people and their local communities. To give just a few examples:

O2 is running O2 Think Big – a social action programme that provides funding, training and support for young people who are running projects across the UK to improve their local communities.

Starbucks is giving funding and training to young people in 12 cities across the country through their Starbucks Youth Action Programme.

The Co-Operative’s Truth about Youth programme has brought over 36,000 adults and young people together from seven UK cities over the last two years, to tackle widespread negative perceptions of youth.

This work is reinforced by the Co-Operative’s Apprenticeship Academy and Inspiring Young People campaign. I was fortunate enough to visit a Truth about Youth project at Oval House in South London last month and it was inspiring stuff – so I have seen the sort of impact these schemes can achieve.

These are just a few examples of the sort of innovative projects which are springing up all over the country; and we are investing in brokering many more.

But the people who will play a pivotal role in turning Positive for Youth into reality – the real agents of this Government’s ambition to improve the lives of every single young person in the country – are Local Authorities.

We will depend on Local Authorities to use Positive for Youth to transform local services. To make that process a bit easier, as requested, we have clearly explained what Positive for Youth means for Local Authorities – and published it under the imaginative name, ‘Positive for Youth: What it means for local authorities’.

As this document sets out, our expectations for Local Authorities are very clear. And our approach promotes local leadership and encourages local cross-sector partnerships- particularly important as local authorities take on new public health responsibilities. We expect Local Authorities to give young people a voice in decisions that affect their lives. There are many ways to do this, and Local Authorities are best placed to decide on their chosen method. But we are funding the British Youth Council to promote the youth voice at a national and local level, to sustain the UK Youth Parliament and to provide information and advice to councils. And each local authority area will soon have an organisation called Local HealthWatch to ensure that young people have a voice in shaping local health services.

We expect Local Authorities to work with young people in commissioning; and for local leaders to decide about local services in response to local priorities and needs. We’re not going to ring-fence funding, nor tell councils which services they should commission and how they should be delivered.

Non ring-fenced funding of £2.365 billion in 2012-13 will help Local Authorities to provide Early Intervention services for vulnerable children, young people and families. And for the particular needs of young people and their families, Local Authorities can also draw on the Revenue Support Grant and, from 2013, the Public Health Grant.

We’re also providing £320,000 to Business in the Community to build links between businesses and young people in their local areas, working in partnership with National Children’s Bureau and UK Youth; and we’re providing capital investment to complete 63 myplace centres by April 2013, developing a national approach to exploit their potential to be led by communities and businesses.
If any Local Authority already has a myplace centre in its area, I hope that Positive for Youth will inspire you to ensure that the centre is at the heart of transforming local youth services, exploiting every ounce of their potential.

In Bradford city centre, for example, an old cotton mill has been transformed into an incredible myplace centre called ‘Culture Fusion’. Over 5 floors, it offers young people a wide range of activities including a climbing wall, gym, recording centre, dance studio, hostel accommodation, IT suite, and cafe. Existing services are working together much more effectively, providing all the services that young people need under one roof. A steering group of young people has been involved every step of the way, from drawing up the very first plans through to day-to-day activities and planning for the future. The project also enjoys the support of members of the local business community, offering pro bono legal advice and a range of volunteering opportunities.

One of our major individual proposals in Positive for Youth is the expansion of the National Citizen Service. It will offer 30,000 places to young people in 2012, 60,000 in 2013, and 90,000 in 2014 – by that point, we expect it to be one of the largest personal and social development programmes for young people in the world.

As it grows, we want more local authorities to get involved: by working with providers to ensure their local young people benefit from the scheme; and by embedding NCS in their local area. This is particularly important in ensuring that looked after children can participate, so we are offering extra support to ensure that vulnerable young people and children in care can take part.
We’re also exploring opportunities to expand Cadet Forces, particularly in maintained schools; and encouraging volunteering for all age groups, including young people.

Beyond giving young people a voice, improving commissioning and supporting NCS, we expect that Local Authorities will adopt a sector-led approach to improving services for children, young people, and families.

The Local Government Association will play a huge role here, and funding of £780,000 in 2011-13 will support local authority commissioners. This work is led by the Children’s Improvement Board – a partnership between SOLACE, ADCS, LGA and DfE – and the funding comes on top of the £900,000 p.a. funding that the Local Government Association provides from a top slice of the Revenue Support Grant to the National Youth Agency.

Four new Youth Innovation Zones will develop and share new, creative approaches to youth service right across the country. The first four areas, Devon, Hammersmith and Fulham, Haringey, and Knowsley will each get £40,000 to set up the zones – and I look forward to seeing how they get on.

Beyond these zones, there are a huge range of support services offered by the National Youth Agency, and we are giving much greater priority to identifying and disseminating good practice between local areas through the Centre for Excellence and Outcomes.

Community Budgets will be made available in all local authorities over the next two years to remove the financial and legal restrictions affecting how services intervene early to avoid poor and high-cost outcomes for vulnerable families and young people;
A new Troubled Families Team will work alongside local areas to ensure that these families are supported; and an Ending Gang and Youth Violence Team will provide practical advice and support to up to 30 local areas with a gang or serious youth violence problem.

We’re funding 18 innovative voluntary organisations with £31.4 million over the two years 2011-13 to pioneer and evaluate innovative approaches to early help. And we’re promoting work to prevent and tackle youth homelessness, including strengthening the Homelessness Safety Net so that it will include young people under the age of 21 who are vulnerable as a result of leaving care, and 16 and 17 year olds who find themselves homeless.

So that’s a quick canter through some of the highlights of Positive for Youth. There’s lots more in the document – and I commend it to anyone here who has already finished the books they were given for Christmas.

As we consider the future needs and ambitions of our young people and the role that councils can play, I hope that Positive for Youth provides a clear signpost showing the direction that this Government is heading.

And I hope you’ll agree with me that we’re heading the right way.
We are positive that youth services can be improved. We are positive that young people deserve a voice in society. And we are positive that, with your help, we can build a society which gives all young people the opportunity and support they need to flourish. Thank you.

Tim Loughton – 2012 Speech at ADCS Conference

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Below is the text of the speech made by Tim Loughton, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, at the ADCS Conference in Manchester on 5 July 2012.

Thank you Debbie. It’s a great pleasure to join you today to discuss our plans for the year ahead and beyond.

But before I look forward, I want to look back and pay a few words of appreciation and acknowledgement to your teams.

In particular, I want to say thank you to the ADCS and its members for your thoughtful, positive engagement with government over the last year in business critical areas like fostering, adoption and social work reform.

Thanks to you, we are beginning to see significant progress in the implementation of Professor Munro’s child protection recommendations and real evidence of sector led improvement, particularly in terms of supporting and challenging councils.

This is important progress – in an exceptionally difficult economic context – so let me start by offering my warmest congratulations, and can I ask that you please pass on my appreciation to your teams around the country.

I would like to say a few words this morning about the work we need to do to speed up progress in child protection, focusing on the most vulnerable children in particular. But I am going to start by laying down some very substantial challenges for local areas in the year ahead.

Over the 12 months, I have witnessed some truly inspiring turnarounds in fortune for many of the most vulnerable children and families in this country: for which you must all take enormous credit.

Young people moved back into education after months, sometimes years of disengagement. Chaotic families supported to establish loving attachments. Children rescued from neglect and abuse by the extraordinary professionalism of social workers.

This is the very best of child protection work in this country – the very best example of what can be achieved with focus and ambition.

But I am also acutely aware of the fact that these successes do not excuse the very serious examples of service failures we have sometimes seen:

Young people transported across the country to live in care miles from family and friends and familiar environments. Teenage girls lured away from residential homes by gangs of men to be sexually exploited. Children waiting years for high quality adoption placements to take place.

These kind of failures ask all of us to take a long, hard look at the circumstances in which they occur, and keep occurring.

Where is the drive in weaker areas to reduce delays in adoption and fostering placements? Where are the basic safeguards against children being placed in unsafe, unsuitable accommodation? Why are we still failing to protect children in care from abusers: surely the most elementary of all expectations?

These are questions we all, and I do mean all, need to confront: from politicians to policy makers, DCSs to staff on the frontline. They are also the challenges I want you to now put at the top of your in-tray if they aren’t already.

In saying this, let me make the point that I know, as well as anyone, the utter commitment of everyone in this room to protect young people from danger; to secure the best results for them; and to deliver the very highest quality services. I also understand as well as anyone that we cannot guarantee the safety of every child in this country.

But as leaders, we need to be relentless in our ambition to improve safeguarding arrangements: continually to assess where we could do better, where we could reduce risk.

I want us to be able to look each other in the eye at these conferences and say: ‘yes we have done everything humanly possible to safeguard those children in our care’.

But to accomplish this, we must first be honest and transparent about performance levels. We must be rigorous in our commitment to self-assessment and improvement. We must work across the sector to encourage, challenge and support one another. We must ensure that the experience of the best is transferred to those who are not so strong, and make sure there is no scope for the denial of weak performance.

For our part, we will continue to do everything we can as a government to support you, to get safeguarding right and to strengthen public confidence. I talk about an approach of spreading best practice, not just finger wagging. Sending out letters of congratulation, not just scrutiny and intervention

Already this year, we have made significant progress to bring Professor Munro’s widely acclaimed report on child protection into practice.

We have shortlisted several exceptional candidates for the position of Chief Social Worker and will announce the successful candidate shortly. Eight local authorities are testing new approaches to child assessment. Ofsted has introduced its new inspection framework to provide a sharper focus on the quality and effectiveness of support for children.

We have also responded to your concerns over excessive government control by cutting back disempowering bureaucracy in areas like the Working Together guidance. The three draft documents we have published for consultation will replace over 700 pages of detailed instructions with just 68 – focusing on the essentials and leaving the details to you.

These are radical reforms aimed squarely at putting the power of decision making back in your hands.

My plea to you this morning is to embrace this power shift enthusiastically and energetically. Don’t wait for government pronouncements that are not going to arrive, take charge of the opportunity and press ahead with local reform.

To support you we have invested in the Children’s Improvement Board to work with councils across the country to develop a model of sector-led improvement that is based around rigorous, honest and open self assessment, peer challenge and sector based support.

This is not an insignificant commitment from government. We are providing seed funding of £8.85 million over this financial year to support CIB and we expect to see lead members, chief executives and yourselves leading us towards a more open, transparent, innovative and collaborative approach to self improvement.

I have been hugely encouraged to see you putting the structures in place that will allow every region to make a reality of sector led improvement.

What we need to see now though, is more impact across the country – with self-assessment, peer challenge and support used as a routine way of securing meaningful improvement.

In particular, I want to see much faster progress towards raising standards of residential care for young people.

On Tuesday, I wrote to you all outlining the urgent reforms we are taking to protect children in care from sexual exploitation as part of a wider overhaul of the system.

These measures include ensuring more robust checks are made before children are placed in care outside their home boroughs, and ordering the immediate lifting of all regulations that stop Ofsted telling police and other agencies the location of children’s homes.

On top of this, we are reviewing all aspects of the quality and effectiveness of children’s homes – including their management, ownership and staffing.

It is important to say that there are many exceptional children’s homes that keep vulnerable children safe, as well as helping them to thrive and succeed. Last month I met inspirational residential staff who had been nominated for awards by the children in their care.

I know there are many more professionals like these around this country, who work tirelessly and passionately to support children in care, and they deserve our unstinting praise and respect.

But it would be entirely wrong to pretend there are not significant challenges before us. You know, and I know, that there are residential homes in this country that are clearly failing their children in the most tragic of circumstances.

Sue Berelowitz underlined the scale of the problem earlier this week and I am enormously grateful to her for responding to us so quickly with the early findings into her ongoing report on child sexual exploitation in gangs and groups.

As you will have seen, her report finds a clear pattern of residential homes being specifically targeted by abusers where there is, in her words: ‘a constant flow of vulnerable children for perpetrators to exploit’.

We are working with Ofsted to make sure all care homes match up to the very highest standards and are properly assessed. I have also set up a multi-agency taskforce to address the inadequacy of data relating to children missing from care.

Most importantly, as many of you will know we published the Child Sexual Exploitation Action Plan last November, identifying several key stages where we needed better intervention on child sexual exploitation: including taking more effective multi-agency action.

We are already seeing signs of positive progress, with the LSCB chairs’ network helping to spread best practice. And I thank Sue Woolmore for her efforts on this and for helping to coordinate the efforts of individual LSCBs.

But I remain acutely concerned at the worrying trend for placing children in unsuitable residential accommodation miles away from the familiarity of home. Some 45 per cent of young people in care now live outside their home boroughs.

If you look at a heat map of our towns and cities showing the locations of residential homes and then transpose onto them the whereabouts of known child sex abusers, drug dealers and criminal activity, you will find that we are too often placing our most vulnerable children into the most dangerous areas of our country.

We should not imagine that the public easily accepts or forgets failures in child protection of this kind. Or of the kind we saw in the Rochdale case this year, where young girls were lured from care homes with the promise of cheap vodka or drugs, before being passed around ‘like balls’ in the words of one of the victims.

So, I want to make it absolutely clear today that we expect action to be taken immediately, and decisively, if there is any suggestion that care homes are not passing muster or providing excellence in safeguarding.

DCSs have a critical role to play in selecting the best care homes for individual children: do not think it is ok to send a child to a poorly run home miles away from your own authority – or to take an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ approach to child protection.

This is an issue we must all work together on, with total determination. And I want today’s conference to mark the start of an uncompromising focus by councils on improving standards in residential care for children.

These homes should not simply be protecting children from danger, they should be supporting them to achieve to the very best of their abilities: to succeed at GCSE; to succeed at A Level; to go on to University; and to secure meaningful employment.

I want residential homes, and their staff, to take their responsibilities to these children as seriously as you or I take our own role as parents.

They should set world class benchmarks for the care of our most vulnerable young people and hold themselves to the highest possible standards of delivery.

As you are by now well aware, the other, related, area where we want to see significant progress is in adoption.

At the NCAS conference in October, I made the point that there are councils doing a sterling job of improving the quality of their adoption metrics.

But we know the wider picture is mixed. Overall adoption figures fell again last year. Still only 74 per cent of children are being placed within 12 months of their adoption decision, and there is significant variation at local level.

The evidence shows overwhelmingly that delay has a negative impact on the life chances of children. It is imperative that stable homes are found within a reasonable time, and we are determined, as a government, to do all we can to speed up and streamline the adoption process.

In March, I wrote to you announcing the publication of the Adoption Action Plan. Last month, we published our adoption scorecards setting out performance thresholds and minimum expectations for timeliness.

On top of this, we are undertaking critical research in areas like adoption breakdown so we can fill data gaps, and we’re working to recruit a greater number and wider range of prospective adopters.

We know this is already having a positive impact, with greater attention and interest by councils producing substantial improvements in their adoption figures.

I would like to thank those authorities straightaway for their work but I also want encourage the others to will themselves on to do even better.

I ask you to treat adoption as a priority issue and to take it as a given that we will do anything, and everything we can to support you as you take action.

At the same time, I ask you to focus hard on fostering, where the challenge is just as significant, just as urgent.

According to the Fostering Network, a child comes into care every 22 minutes. Of all the children who come into care, 75 per cent are looked after by foster carers. To cope with demand, an estimated 8,750 new foster carers are needed across the UK in this year alone.

Foster carers are in an unrivalled position to build strong, stable relationships with the children they care for and to help a child address difficulties resulting from their experiences before entering care so they can turn their lives around.

That is why I launched the Foster Carers’ Charter last year, to give foster carers the recognition they deserve. I am delighted that 86 local authorities have already signed up to the Charter with a further 37 in the process of doing so.

The issue now is to make sure all fostering services sign up to, and implement the Charter so that all foster carers, whether they foster for local authorities or independent providers, receive the support, training and recognition that they need.

Finally, I want to build on my comments from last year’s conference and encourage everyone here to ensure they are using Positive for Youth to inspire high quality services for young people.

As some here will already know, we are publishing new guidance for local authorities shortly that will show the key role that services for young people have to play.

As I said at NCAS, we are going to provide you with the flexibility you need to design services and prioritise resources around local needs. In particular, the guidance will be shorter and sharper and it will be up to you to assess the sufficiency of the offer you make to young people.

We’ll also be taking stock of progress on positive for youth at the end of the year and pushing ahead with the inspirational National Citizen Service programme.

But I want to take this opportunity to say that I have been delighted to hear so many stories about the involvement of young people in local decision making, scrutiny of services and commissioning.

In particular, it is enormously encouraging to see so many positive examples emerging of councils working together across professions, legacy service structures, and radically redesigned local services.

I appreciate these efforts and do please keep on sharing your experiences of what works, and indeed what doesn’t, with colleagues around the country.

I know many of you are already doing this as a matter of routine so I want to end with sincere thanks to the ADCS.

I am aware that I have been challenging at times today. I do not, however, want you to imagine that I either underestimate or under appreciate the inspirational impact that you can have as DCSs.

I see the difference you make with my own eyes every day: not just in the reports that cross my desk and the conversations we hold across board tables, but in the work I see being done on the frontline by your teams.

Nor do I live in ignorance of the tremendous pressure that is placed on you from all angles, particularly in these tough economic times.

It is very difficult for those not directly involved to appreciate fully the extraordinarily fine judgements involved in child protection, and the pressure under which your staff are expected to deliver.

On a day-to-day basis, DCSs negotiate conflicting demands and situations of inordinate complexity, making the most far reaching of decisions. I want to assure you I never forget this contribution or take it for granted.

So, thank you and please take my challenge only as a signal of my very highest regard: the confidence I have in you to make a lasting difference to the most vulnerable young people in this country.

Tim Loughton – 2012 Speech on PE

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Below is the text of the speech made by Tim Loughton, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families, on 16 July 2012.

Thank you for that kind introduction Eileen.

As everyone here will be able to tell, I am a keen sportsman. You may be surprised to hear that I have even been mistaken for a Swiss ski instructor, although this could be more to do with the colour of my ski jacket than my skiing prowess.

So, it is an enormous pleasure to be here and I am grateful to the Association for giving me the opportunity to set out the Government’s commitment to PE in schools.

But before I begin, I want to take a step back and thank Eileen and her team, and particularly Sue Wilkinson, for their positive, thoughtful engagement with the government over the development of the draft PE programme of study.

I would also like to congratulate all the teachers here today for their hard work and application over the last few years. As far as I am concerned, PE is the great leveller of all the subjects on the National Curriculum.

It is uniquely inclusive and democratic, bringing pupils of every conceivable background together. It challenges young people in a way no other subject can, testing both physical and mental capabilities. It also holds a singularly important and elevated place in the school week by virtue of the skills it develops and the values it teaches.

On a day-to-day basis, you inspire children to reach new heights, literally in the case of the high jump, and to explore their capabilities with confidence.

You give them the skills to work creatively and efficiently both in teams and as individuals. You teach them to be good winners and gracious losers. You provide them with the skills and techniques they will need to enjoy and take part in sport for many years after leaving school.

I have been privileged enough to see the fruits of this labour at first hand many times over the past two years, including the wonderful School Games in Manchester last July, and two weeks ago at the London 2012 World Sport Day in Brighton, involving some 24,000 young people from 60 different schools in the town.

I know none of these events would have been possible without the hard work and endeavour of PE teachers so let me congratulate you and can I ask you to please pass on my warmest thanks to your teams and colleagues around the country.

I am going to talk briefly today about the progress we are making on the PE programme of study, and say a few words about the invaluable work the Association has done in publishing the new guidance on safe practice in PE and sport.

But I wanted to begin by looking at the wider work we are doing as a Government to provide teachers with greater autonomy and flexibility over lesson planning.

As many here will know, this Government’s approach to education is based on the fact that teachers are best positioned to design lessons that meet the needs of their pupils, not politicians.

Over and over again, international evidence shows that professional autonomy is an essential feature of every high performing state education system. To quote from the OECD: ‘In countries where schools have greater autonomy over what is taught and how students are assessed, students tend to perform better.’

We are currently reforming the curriculum to make it more stable and less cluttered; focused more tightly on the essential core of knowledge that every pupil should be taught.

We want the new curriculum to focus on the fundamentals that give children today, and tomorrow, the best possible start to their future.

Just as importantly, we want teachers to ‘go back to their roots’ – to paraphrase from today’s conference title – and enjoy far greater professional flexibility over how and what they teach within far less prescriptive boundaries.

So, although we are clear we want PE, swimming and competitive sport to be a compulsory part of the curriculum at each of the four key stages, the new Programme of Study, when it comes out, will be shorter, simpler and far less prescriptive to allow for the maximum level of innovation in schools.

In return, we need you to seize the opportunity to be creative, to inspire young people to engage with PE and help them understand the enormous benefits it offers. In particular, we all need to think long and hard about how we engage those children who insist they ‘don’t do exercise’ or whose only experience of competitive sport is on a games console.

How do we inspire these young people to pull on a pair of trainers for the first time? How do we appeal to those who are not interested in traditional sports like tennis, cricket, hockey, netball or rugby? What are the methods we should be deploying to boost young people’s confidence in competitive sport? How do we get them on a football pitch so the English team can string a pass together at the next world cup?

These are the sorts of thorny questions we all need to be answering and I am hugely grateful to Eileen and her team for the solutions they have been working up following the call to evidence last June, and the subsequent consultation period.

As many of you will know, the Government has made it absolutely clear that the PE programme of study will be geared towards engaging more young people in physical activity. We will not allow pupils to become draft dodgers.

But our ultimate ambition is to ensure you have much greater freedom to use your professional expertise to tailor PE lessons to individual pupils and classes, rather than ask you to work towards arbitrary targets set by politicians and policy wonks.

It is clear to me, and I think to most right thinking people, that what makes for an appropriate and popular PE class for a primary school in Devon, may not easily fit the mould in an inner city school in London.

Thanks to the Association, we are making good progress and I am pleased to say we are on target to publish the draft PE programme of study by September next year, and to introduce it for teaching into schools by September 2014, along with those for English, maths and science.

As you would expect, we will continue to consult with the sector over the coming months on the detail and I want to strongly encourage everyone here to make their voices heard.

There will be a statutory consultation on all National Curriculum subjects later this year – when the time comes, please collect your thoughts with colleagues and make sure you feed back so that we are in as strong a position as we possibly can be on the development of the PE programme.

The other, related, area where we are extremely keen for the Association and its members to really take charge is in the early scoping work it has been doing on self-assessment.

As you will all know, Ofsted is working towards a more focused scrutiny of schools’ performance, with inspectors concentrating on key basics such as the quality of teaching – instead of overwhelming staff with superfluous demands for information and time.

The agency is also looking specifically at how well leaders and managers ensure that the curriculum is broad and balanced, and it will continue to produce three-yearly subject reports to help ensure the health of subjects like PE in our schools.

This sharper, more intelligent accountability provides an opportunity for organisations like the Association to step up and provide their own options for self-assessment.

Eileen and her team have been amongst the most fleet footed, as you might expect from PE teachers, of any organisation to put forward proposals for awarding and issuing quality marks for teaching along the lines of kite marks.

We will be paying very close interest as you develop those plans over the coming months but in the meantime, I want to congratulate you on seizing the initiative so enthusiastically. There is every reason to suggest that external benchmarking of this kind would prove enormously useful for parents, and provide important recognition to hard working, innovative schools and their staff.

Similarly, I would like to thank the Association for the leadership it has shown in amending and re-publishing the guidance on safe practice in PE and sport. I understand that it has proved so popular you have had to arrange another print run. I know schools value it tremendously, as do officials in my own Department who use it as a bible for safe practice.

For our part, I want to assure you the Government will do everything in its power to provide a similarly high level of support to schools, particularly in the wider work we are doing to strip back disempowering bureaucracy in the education system, and to support more effective behaviour management.

Over the last two years, we have set about tackling needless regulation and red tape with great vim and vigour: in total, the Department has removed 75 per cent of centrally-issued guidance – some 20,000 pages.

Behaviour and bullying guidance has been slimmed from 600 pages to 50; admissions guidance down from 160 pages to 50; health and safety guidance from 150 pages to just 6.

On top of this, we have scrapped the requirements on schools to set annual absence and performance targets; to consult on changes to the school day; and to publish school profiles.

And we have removed a host of non-statutory requirements like the self evaluation form, replaced the bureaucratic financial management standard, stopped 10 data collections and clarified that neither the Department, nor Ofsted, require written lesson plans to be in place for every lesson.

From September, we will be introducing further measures to remove or reduce some of the bureaucracy around teacher standards, admissions and school governance.

At the same time, we want to support you in every way we can to improve behaviour in schools. We are clear that no teacher should have to put up with aggressive, confrontational or abusive behaviour from the children in their classes, whether in the classroom or on the playing field.

Over the last two years, we have introduced a series of measures to support heads and teachers in managing poorly behaved pupils; and we expect heads, in turn, to support you at every corner.

Since the start of last month, schools have had increased search powers for items which they believe will lead to disruption. We have clarified headteachers’ authority to discipline pupils beyond the school gates, including for bullying outside of school. And we have given teachers the ability to issue no notice detentions.

We’ve also given teachers extra protection from malicious accusations, ensuring they always have a legal right to anonymity until the point they are charged with an offence.

Finally of course, we have revised guidance to local authorities and schools to speed up the investigation process when a teacher or a member of staff is the subject of an allegation by a pupil.

These are substantial changes, designed to let you get on with the job in hand and to restore much needed professional respect and autonomy. In short, we want to give you back what has been taken away. We want to make the job of teaching easier, more rewarding, more flexible.

I hope you’ll agree this is the right direction. Importantly, we want to make and create these reforms in partnership with organisations like the Association wherever we can, not foist them on you.

So to end, let me offer a final thanks to Eileen, her team and to all the teachers here for their engagement with the Government in these last two years and for their inspiring work.

In 22 days, 10 hours, and roughly 29 minutes, two very important events are taking place. First, and most important, is the summer opening of Parliament. A red letter day in all our calendars I’m sure.

Second, of course, the Olympics kicks off with what promises to be a spectacular opening ceremony involving sheep, goats, BMX riders and Sir Paul McCartney – although in what exact order I don’t know.

Amidst all the pomp and pageantry, music and din, special effects and light shows, I hope PE teachers and schools are recognised and appreciated for the quiet way they have set about creating this Olympic legacy.

Under your auspices, we have seen more children and young people taking PE at GCSE and A Level than ever before. We have seen across the board improvements in standards, achievement, provision and leadership. And we have seen the quality of PE teaching, leadership and management judged good or outstanding in an incredible two thirds of all schools.

This is truly a victory of Olympian proportions and I hope everyone here takes enormous pride in their achievements. You are the true Olympic torch bearers for team GB.

Thank you.

Tim Loughton – 2010 Speech to the Centre for Excellence and Outcomes in Children and Young People’s Services

Below is the text of the speech given by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, Tim Loughton, on 29th June 2010.

Thank you, Sir Paul. And thank you Christine for inviting me to speak to you today.

C4EO is doing some really interesting and important work, which complements a lot of thinking in Government Departments across Whitehall, particularly in these financially challenging times. So I think this is a very good opportunity to talk about that approach, what we can learn from each other, and how to put those lessons into practice.

But first it might be useful to put the current situation in context, and say something about the challenges facing all of us in the coming months and years.

(Outline of the financial situation – how we got here, need for financial restraint, etc.)

Last week the Chancellor’s emergency budget set out the tough but fair measures that we need to take to tackle the country’s budget deficit and bring spending back under control, in I think a measured and realistic way.

The scale of the fiscal challenge is huge, and that does mean there will be very real and unavoidable challenges – and the Department for Education is not immune from them.

Many families will face the challenge of hardship.

There will be a strain not just on resources, but on relationships too. As pressure on families increases, so too will the pressure on children.

One child in five in this country is currently living in poverty, and two million children live in poor housing.

And we know about the links between economic recession and the effects on mental health in the family and, increasingly, in children.

As they look to us, and to you, for support in these difficult times, we have to ensure that our services offer them what they need in the best possible way.

That’s why the coalition government has put the principles of freedom, fairness and responsibility at the heart of our decision-making and our policies.

We have already announced that we will protect spending on schools, Sure Start and 16-19 funding, while also announcing the introduction of a pupil premium that will allow us to tackle educational inequality by ensuring that additional money is provided to those who teach the most disadvantaged children. And we will refocus Sure Start on meeting the needs of the most disadvantaged families.

But there’s no doubt the landscape has changed, and when we’re thinking about how to provide public services in future – whether that’s childcare places, safeguarding vulnerable children, or school IT projects – we need to look first and foremost at quality outcomes as well as value for money, and do all we can to make sure that we get the maximum bang for our buck.

That means looking at outcomes rather than, for example, throughput.

Because in the past I would contend, too much of what passed for evaluation of any particular process or project was often not much more than a measurement of quantity – how many young people were signed up for this or that particular scheme, for instance – rather than a thoughtful analysis of what each individual may or may not have gained from the project. Did it have a life-changing impact for them? How did it improve their life chances?

So we have to be smarter, we have to think about how children have actually benefited (or not) from our policies and investment; about the timeliness of interventions, and whether departments and agencies have done as much cross-cutting work as they can.

In the coming years, all of our interventions must be targeted on the people who will benefit most, and provided in the way that will help them best.

So I am really switched on to good practice. Where is it? And how do we learn from it?

How do we discover the best models for public services in times like these?

At the heart of the new government’s approach is a determination to move away from a top-down, prescriptive approach, and to devolve more power and freedom to parents and professionals.

Parents have the primary responsibility for raising children, and our policies should always recognise that. But even the best parents need support from time to time.

So we need to make sure they have access to the professionals – whether state-provided or from the voluntary sector – who are experts in their respective fields.

They are the people we need to trust, and it’s their experience we need to share.

Thousands of them are already doing excellent work, and formerly as an opposition front-bencher, and in the first month in my new job, I have visited some great examples of local schemes that are really making a difference.

There are successful projects in every part of the country. In Kent, for example, an Early Talk programme has been set up in Ashford, at low cost, to help children with speech and language difficulties to develop their communications skills early on. It’s a multi-agency approach, and it has resulted in over 90 per cent of those children making good progress in a mainstream primary school when in the past they would have needed specialist language provision. Poor speech development is often at the heart of poor learning, and the earlier it is detected and dealt with, the better a child’s chance of keeping up both educationally and socially.

And Kensington & Chelsea’s ‘Virtual School’, with its focus on attendance and attainment, is improving the educational outcomes of looked after children and young people in the borough, and making real reductions in the number who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).

Or there’s Tower Hamlets’ ‘Parents as Partners in Early Learning’ scheme, where a system for sharing information between parents, teachers and others involved with the child’s learning has resulted in a significant increase in children’s communication and personal skills.

So there’s plenty of good practice going on out there. But there’s no point having a brilliant idea and not telling anyone about it. That’s why C4EO’s work on improvement is so important. It allows local authorities to use the best evidence and research to improve local practice and drive up standards.

Because knowledge is power – power to do good – but only if you share it.

Travelling about the country, I have been struck by the number of times I’ve heard about a scheme or initiative that’s achieving excellent results in addressing a problem in one authority – but which is completely unheard of in the neighbouring area.

We need to be smarter about using and disseminating good practice, and in future I see an important role for government in facilitating best practice. For instance, my ministerial colleague Sarah Teather and I are looking at organising an event that gets together local authority lead members and directors to look at best practice, and discuss what might be transferable from one area to another. It needs input from both local authority elected members and officers, and I’d be interested to hear your views on how we take that forward.

It won’t be a case of funding all the good schemes we hear about. What we will be doing is helping appropriate voluntary sector organisations to become part of the solution, by making it easier for them to work with statutory agencies.

Families

The Government believes that families are the building blocks of society. We believe that in order to build strong communities, we need to nurture and support families of all kinds.

That doesn’t mean we think it’s Government’s business to lecture families about how to live their lives. That can be counter-productive. What we need to do is provide them with an environment in which they can thrive.

That is why we are setting up a new Childhood and Families Task Force, to look at areas like parental leave and flexible working, the support we give children in the event of family breakdown, and how to help children avoid the pressures forcing them to grow up too quickly.

The Task Force will be chaired by the Prime Minister, and again Sarah Teather will be playing a crucial role as our departmental representative.

In recent years, services that take a ‘whole family’ approach to helping families with multiple problems have grown rapidly, and here again there is a great deal of excellent local practice we can learn from.

In Westminster, for example, the Westminster Family Recovery project is addressing the needs and behaviours of the families who place most demands on the local authority’s public services – as well as having a high impact on the communities around them. By working intensively over a period of around a year with these families, the project aims to bring about long term inter-generational changes in behaviour. It’s an approach that is already delivering good results: for example, 50 per cent of children in families who have been part of the project for six months or more have shown an improvement in their school attendance.

From a financial and effectiveness perspective, it has to make sense to concentrate a holistic solution on those families whose problems are taking up a disproportionate amount of professional time and resources.

And in Suffolk, agencies are also doing excellent work in identifying and working with their ‘high demand’ and ‘high cost’ families. They have also carried out some intensive work looking at the needs of Young Carers. They are another neglected army of dedicated volunteers, and I went to their annual get-together at Fairthorne Manor last weekend.

Early intervention

If we are serious about addressing the problems facing us, and doing it with scarcer resources, then it’s essential we adopt new ways, smarter ways, of thinking and working.

But one very old way of working – the ‘stitch in time saves nine’ principle – can also stand us in good stead. Early Intervention is a key component of providing effective, and cost-effective, services.

At just 22 months, a poor child’s skills already lag behind those of a child of the same age from a better-off home. That disadvantage – if it is not tackled – will remain throughout life, with huge implications for choice of career, the limiting of opportunity, and even reduced life expectancy. A child born into one of England’s poorest neighbourhoods today will die (if nothing changes) seven years before one born into the richest.

The stitch in time approach saves lives – sometimes literally.

It often saves money too.

For instance, it’s been estimated that a reduction of just one per cent in the number of offences committed by children and young people has the potential to generate savings for households and individuals of around £45 million a year.

That’s why projects such as Action 4 Children’s Intensive Fostering are so interesting, concentrating the expertise of highly trained and motivated foster carers on teenagers on the cusp of the youth justice system.

I am well aware of C4EO’s invaluable work on Early Intervention and cost-effectiveness, and we will study it closely as part of the work that we are currently carrying out on cost-effectiveness within the department.

Incidentally, it seems to me that Early Intervention provides another argument against the reform of public services being driven by central government. If the solution to a problem has to wait until someone in Whitehall makes a decision, the chance for getting in early and sorting out trouble at its root is likely to have passed.

And to encourage further that local approach, and to drive home the cost-effectiveness message, we will be investigating ways in which we can ensure that providers are paid partly by the results they achieve. That seems only right.

Disparity of local authority outcomes – why are some LAs so much more successful than others?

I believe that it’s only by sharing knowledge and expertise that we will be able to tackle the scandalous disparity of local authority outcomes.

Why are some local authorities, with no more resources and with similar populations, so much more successful than others at improving outcomes for young people?

Nottingham, Leicester and Haringey are all in the top 20 most deprived local authorities, but have all seen improvements in reducing both youth crime and teenage pregnancy recently. These local authorities have seen falls of between 15.9 per cent and 21.5 per cent in the rate of teenage pregnancies, compared to the average decrease nationally of 0.2 per cent, where overall figures remain stubbornly high.

They have also seen falls of between 18 per cent and 62 per cent in youth crime. Stoke-on-Trent – also in that top-20 most deprived category – managed to achieve a fall in its youth crime rate of over 70 per cent between 2006-7 and 2008-9.

What can explain those statistics? And why aren’t those results being replicated across the country? In large part it must be because less-good authorities are failing to learn from the best.

And in a strange way, there’s an encouraging message there. It means there are authorities out there doing really great work. It means we don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Using good practice developed in one area to help other areas improve their services is a cost-effective way of helping all children and families to achieve good outcomes.

I’d like to give a plug here for the C4EO website. A good case study can be like gold dust, and C4EO’s rigorous process of validation means that the case studies on your website are a fantastic resource for others seeking to provide better services for their own communities, and great scope for peer mentoring between authorities, ADCs and LGAs.

Conclusion

All of us, whether in government or the voluntary sector, whether large organisations or individuals, need to work together to tackle the difficulties facing our country.

That is what the Big Society is all about, and we shall be hearing a lot more about that. It’s all about empowering the sector, local communities and individuals to take the lead, to pool and share their expertise.

And I believe that far from being helpless in the face of global processes, we actually have the solutions in our own hands. We have the resources in our local hospitals and schools and community groups to make this a better country.

By identifying programmes and organisations that can actually deliver the results we want to see, and using an empirical approach rather than one that is ideologically driven, we can create a pattern for working more intelligently in future.

In that spirit, over the summer we will be looking at how the Government can best support improvement in children’s services without stifling the very real innovation that’s at the heart of the best local authorities and their children’s services partners.

I know C4EO and many of you here today will be monitoring our progress, and giving us the benefit of your experience. I look forward to working with you and hearing your views.

Thank you.