Pickles welcomes new results on troubled families

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has applauded council efforts to support almost 53,000 of England’s most troubled families over the past two years.

Speaking at the Local Government Association conference in Bournemouth, Pickles revealed the Government programme had ‘turned around’ 52,833 families since April 2012.

‘To have helped so many families so quickly is testament to the hard work and determination of troubled families teams across the country,’ he said.

The communities secretary pointed to authorities such as Wakefield, which has ‘turned around’ around 85% out of its 930 troubled families.

But he added local authorities had been helping households ‘in every corner of the country’.

In a wide ranging speech to conference delegates – which included quotes from book The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Pickles said local government had ‘coped remarkably well’ in what he termed ‘this challenging time’.

Yet the communities secretary pushed town halls to do more on cost cutting, adding: ‘Councils are still spending £100bn a year. There is still a great deal of best practice to show how efficiency savings can be made and we still have only scratched the surface by embracing better procurement, cutting fraud and increasing joint working.’

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Government adviser says leadership is key to quality childcare

A government adviser on childcare has said that leadership is a more important factor than the qualifications of staff in providing quality childcare to disadvantaged two-year-olds.

recent report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) called for a minimum Level 3 child development qualification for all staff working with disadvantaged two-year-olds, and for 30% of staff to hold a relevant degree qualification.

However, James Hempsall, a government adviser on childcare and national director of Achieving Two Year Olds has stated that effective leadership and good management of settings are a more significant factor than the qualifications of staff.

Hempsall currently oversees the government’s free childcare scheme for disadvantaged two-year-olds and said that his experience of the scheme does not necessarily suggest that quality is directly linked to qualifications of staff.

Hempsall leant his support to staff aiming for at least a Level 3 qualification and backed the drive for a graduate-led sector but also noted the value of experience of working in quality settings under effective leadership.

Currently around 15% of staff working with disadvantaged two-year-olds hold a specialist childcare degree, with 78% qualified to Level 3.

Another recent report by the University of Oxford also drew a parallel between quality of service and graduate staff, this time looking at settings working with three- and four-year-olds.

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Quarterly Newsletter – June 2014

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