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Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families will be here for a live webchat on Weds 9th Sept from 1-2pm

(338 Posts)
carriemumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 07-Sep-09 15:11:55

Ed Balls, Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, will be coming to Mumsnet Towers from 1-2pm on Wednesday 9 September for a live web chat. He is looking forward to answering your questions about the Government's family policies including support during your child's early years; flexible working and how it works (or doesn't work) for you; maternity and paternity leave; childcare provision and Sure Start centres. You can also ask him questions about education and family services in your area or let him know how the recession has affected your family (and how the Gov could help).

Ed is MP for Normanton, married to Yvette Cooper, the Work and Pensions Secretary, and they have three children aged 10, 8 and 5. He loves cooking and is a Norwich City supporter.

Ed won't be answering advance questions, but if you would like to post a question now (or can't join us on Wednesday) we'll do our best to feed these questions through at the beginning of the live chat, particularly if there are some common themes coming through.

He'll try to get through as many of your questions as possible on the day, but even if he can type at breakneck speed it's unlikely he'll be able to answer every single question. However, if there are particular issues that keep coming up that he doesn't have time to address on the day then he's promised to get back with some additional answers in the next couple of weeks.

Over to you!

MNHQ

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 07-Sep-09 15:35:50

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Buda Mon 07-Sep-09 15:37:50

Gosh he is brave!

CMOTdibbler Mon 07-Sep-09 15:55:19

I won't be around on Wednesday, so can I leave the following question.

Health visitors are the people that are supposed to be the main contact with families in the preschool years. They are uniquely placed to form links with families, children and parents from birth, and care for the family unit.

So, given that they can intervene with health and behaviour advice so effectively, are there so few, who are so overworked, and who do not seem to recieve training on govermental and NHS standards of care ?

We frequently see on this site that women get little support, and frequently atrocious advice on weaning and breastfeeding, which has long term consequences for their babies

mumbot Mon 07-Sep-09 16:34:59

I won't be around Wednesday either; here's my question.

Why do the government offer us 52 weeks maternity leave but only 39 weeks maternity pay?

Thanks

catinthehat2 Mon 07-Sep-09 17:09:40

Can I translate:
"He'll try to get through as many of your questions as possible on the day, but even if he can type at breakneck speed it's unlikely he'll be able to answer every single question. However, if there are particular issues that keep coming up that he doesn't have time to address on the day then he's promised to get back with some additional answers in the next couple of weeks."

In English:

"Ed will be cherrypicking the easy questions and ignoring anything remotely challenging. OK girls!"

curiositykilled Mon 07-Sep-09 17:44:47

I can't make it on wednesday either as I will be at twin clinic.

My question is about leave provision and benefits for parents of twins.

Currently parents of twins are only entitled to the same maternity/paternity leave and benefits as those with one baby. If you are expecting twins you have a much heavier burden in terms of cost, increased risks of premature labour and pre-eclampsia in pregnancy and a much higher risk of postnatal haemorrhaging due to the large size of the placenta.

A twin pregnancy is much, much more strenuous than a singleton pregnancy and you are required to attend obstetric appointments much more often during pregnancy.

Currently a woman who is carrying twins is only entitled to take maternity leave, as a woman carrying a singleton is, from the 11th week before her due date. There is no provision for deciding when that due date should be as predicting when twins will be born is much harder, doctors often prefer a twin gestation to be called 'term' at 38 weeks but this is not the due date I was given - I was given a 40 week due date.

I worked during pregnancy and despite crippling tiredness and morning sickness managed to maintain my job in a shoe shop until I was 14 weeks pregnant - at which time I had a bleed and was advised to give up work (as I was required to stand for long periods). I am convinced that I would not have been physically able to continue working up until I was 29 weeks pregnant.

I am 25, physically fit and healthy and this is my third pregnancy. I am not inclined to make a fuss, I am hard working and found my singleton pregnancies 100 times easier. It was awful to have to give up my job.

I think it would be much better to give women who are pregnant with twins a 78 week maternity leave entitlement (39 weeks pay as with a singleton) with the option of beginning the maternity leave from the time the twin pregnancy is confirmed at the 12 week scan (beginning of the second trimester).

Currently, because twins are so rare, employers are very uneducated about the extra pressures a twin pregnancy carries with it. The increased risks and the increased importance of rest. Both my husband and I have found it very difficult to negotiate with either of our respective employers over the issues our unexpected twin pregnancy has raised.

Twins are however on the increase as more and more women are undergoing IVF treatments. I believe this will become more of an issue over the forthcoming years.

The other issue is paternity leave. I believe fathers of twins should be entitled to double the amount of leave the father of a singleton is. The fact that they can only take 2 paid weeks is ridiculous if you consider the care a set of twins is likely to need and the support the mother is likely to need. Physical activity postnatally increases the likelihood of a postnatal haemorrhage, given that the risk is much higher anyway after giving birth to twins, leaving a woman to cope on her own 2 weeks after giving birth to twins could be very dangerous.

The money available from the health in pregnancy grant should be increased for expectant twin mothers too (perhaps half or a third as much again). The dietary requirements are vastly different if you are trying to maintain a healthy twin pregnancy than with a singleton.

In short I believe the pressures of twin pregnancy are being overlooked by the government currently. I would suggest the following:

1. Increase maternity leave entitlement for women pregnant with multiples to 78 weeks (39 paid) with the option to begin maternity leave sooner than the 29th week of pregnancy.

2. Educate employers about the very different pressures, burdens and requirements that are being placed on their employees during a twin/multiple pregnancy.

3. Increase paid paternity leave entitlement to 2 weeks per baby for fathers of twins/multiples.

I would like to commend Mr Balls on the excellent flexible working legislation. The only trouble with it is the 12-14 week period it can take to come through which is not much good if you need it immediately. Perhaps you could make your application 12-14 weeks before your baby/babies are due?

pluto Mon 07-Sep-09 17:48:39

In addition to Mumbot...Why does the government promote exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of a child's life but not require all employers to provide full maternity pay for women for the six months following birth?

Doobydoo Mon 07-Sep-09 17:59:15

Agree Catinthehat.I shall ask about his response to Martin Naarey's suggestion re 'broken families'What exactly does he think social workers/society should do?
I also want to know where HIS children go to school?
I will ask these on the day and shall be amazed if he replies in a meaningful way[to the 1st question]

smallwhitecat Mon 07-Sep-09 18:06:54

Message withdrawn

catinthehat2 Mon 07-Sep-09 18:14:41

You didn't mention the blinking.

Why do you do that Ed?

pecanpie Mon 07-Sep-09 18:24:00

I want to ask Mr Balls about childcare provision - if the government is so set on getting mums out to work, why isn't there more affordable childcare available. Please don't say that it is available - what is provided is exceptionally limited and the majority of us have to rely on private nurseries.

Also, why are childcare vouchers/salary sacrifice schemes limited to only £243 per person per month - this barely has an impact on my monthly nursery fees.

LadyMuck Mon 07-Sep-09 18:32:36

Doobydoo, I think that where Ed Balls' children attend school is fairly widely reported in the press. The school was put on special measures since last year.

Hobnobfanatic Mon 07-Sep-09 18:37:44

Please ask why the Child Care aspect of Tax Credits discriminate against self-employed parents? I'm a single, self-employed mum who sometimes needs oodles of childcare and sometimes very little, depending on deadlines and family support. I had been told that I could work out an annual average for childcare and divide by 52 - but now I've been told that's wrong and because my childcare hours are not regular for four weeks on the trot, I'm not eligible!

Nightmare!

QueenOfFuckingEverything Mon 07-Sep-09 18:37:56

I want to know about the Badman report.

Why, when it found no evidence that HE was being used as a 'cover for abuse', are umpteen recommendations being considered that will interfere with HEers right to a private and family life? The proposals, if implemented, will give LEA officials the unprecedented right to interview our children without parents present.

Doobydoo Mon 07-Sep-09 18:38:40

Thanks Ladymuck.I have been back in Uk since April so out of touch I expect.

choufleur Mon 07-Sep-09 19:20:39

i can't post on wednesday - at work. can i ask a question now? Why can i only ask for flexible working after i've worked for a company for 6 months? I would love a new job, and have been offered one fairly recently, but had to decline the offer as they wouldn't contemplate flexible working until i'd been there for statutory period.

Also - stop saying that all 3 years old get free nursery places - they don't. they only get it the term after they turn 3, which for April babies is a long time to wait until september!

hotmama Mon 07-Sep-09 19:44:07

I would also like to ask why salary sacrifice schemes are limited to £243 - why aren't they increased in the budget? Also, some of us might actually live in what are deemed affluent areas and therefore have no access to Surestart centres and the like including nursery grant for over 2's - so don't bang on about all this provision for parents when it is not universal.

Also, a query re Academies - I don't want my dc to attend a faith school of any persuasion hence they attend the local community school that states that it has no religious affiliation. Is my choice going to limited in the future as a very high percentage of academies are link sponsored to a particular diocese?

TIA. smile

MyCatIsAFleaBagNoMore Mon 07-Sep-09 19:58:59

Can't be here on Wednesday so I would like to ask why this government seem so intent on getting both parents to work, borrow money, be in debt etc etc, for the sake of the economy yet then continue to wonder why their is an apparent social breakdown? to me the 2 are intrinsically linked.

ommmward Mon 07-Sep-09 20:15:44

My question:

Why on earth is the dscf pushing forwards with an uncosted (but it's going to be costly) universal screening programme for child abuse among home educators when:

- there is not even a hint that it would be effective,
- it is disproportionate to the perceived problem,
- the report on which the plans are based is just embarrassingly poor
- Childrens Services are already struggling to recruit adequately trained staff, and fail to support families who are at risk. Are they really going to be happy about this extra and pointless workload?

and... the Badman report was supposed to deal with welfare issues. Why did he conflate education and welfare, and why did you accept all those recommendations which remove responsibility for educating children from the parents and place it in the hands of the State? Do you have any idea how many people are going to sue the State for failing to provide the suitable education which the law says must be provided to every child?

lottiejenkins Mon 07-Sep-09 20:20:45

Id like to ask him why the Labour Government has closed so many Special Schools since they came to power? A lot of children my son included cannot attend Mainstream school and i think it is wrong to close so many SS's!! I wont be able to be here for the webchat but would love to hear Mr Balls response!!

LadyHooHa Mon 07-Sep-09 20:40:01

pmsl, smallwhite cat!

ravenAK Mon 07-Sep-09 21:14:43

I'd like to thank Mr Balls for enabling me now to teach year 9 English, rather than holding up a big hoop & spending a year coaching them to jump through it. So, ta.

KS2 Sats to go next, please!

LauraIngallsWilder Mon 07-Sep-09 21:15:14

I wont be on MN to join in live either and I am having trouble putting my thoughts into questions!

I am a HEr like ommward so ditto all her questions
Why the need to make HErs feel chased etc
We are HEing because my sons needs were not being met by his schools (he went to 3 in total) By the time we dereg'd him he was having suicidal thoughts and wanting to murder all the staff and burn the school down - the school however ignored all my pleas and concerns shock

Also please can the EYFS rules for childminders be ditched?
I can see the point for nurserys and preschool classes - but many parents want childminders to be childminders not in effect teachers - if they want the structure of the eyfs they opt for a nursery surely

Many of us would like to be childminders but are put off by the new regulations which are very restrictive imho

ShrinkingViolet Mon 07-Sep-09 22:16:16

Ed, with reference to the Badman report (the main questions about that have already been asked, but tbh, I'm not expecting a response) - why did you accept all the "monitoring" recommendations to be implemented as soon as possible, but all of the "support" recommendations were "oh, well, we'll have to think about that"?

MoonlightMcKenzie Mon 07-Sep-09 22:36:35

Hello Ed,

I have some questions about early years and early intervention:

1)Is it government policy to refuse access to services and support to young children with autism and their families 'pending' a diagnosis which has a waiting list that is over a year long for the straightforward cases, or is it just Hertfordshire that does this?

2)Given that Applied Behavioural Analysis is the international standard for treatment for children with autism, and shows immense cost-benefit for both Local Authorities, tax payers and the child and their family, why isn't it the UK standard?

Thank you

blueshoes Mon 07-Sep-09 23:01:57

smallwhitecat, if you have a gripe, do articulate it like an adult, rather than descend into cowardly sniping.

MoonlightMcKenzie Mon 07-Sep-09 23:16:22

I have another question too with regards to summer birthday intake etc.

Do you not think that age is a abritary and meaningless basis for putting children together in a class?

Would it not be more sensible to do so on a basis of either social and emotional maturity, academic level, parental preference etc.?

And what are you feelings about more flexible education arrangements i.e. part-time school/part-time home, Learning through the community, travel, outside of the classroom, independent learning etc. Are the BSF projects moving us towards this type of thinking or towards a more traditional education?

Thank you.

daisy5678 Mon 07-Sep-09 23:35:06

Hi,

What do you intend to do about the inequalities in the SEN system between schools and across different authorities?

Thanks

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Mon 07-Sep-09 23:47:22

Hello Ed.

Appologies for my name. blush
I am the parent of an incredibly bright boy. It's clear from what's been happening to him that the gifted and talented policy doesn't work. You say that state schools can educate very bright children but in reality they can't. My son has been severly bullied, his work has been ripped up and thrown in the bin, he's been sworn at and his life has been made a misery. At school he is more then a couple of years ahead yet there really is no provision for him. It would make our life so much easier if you could bring back the assisted places scheme. I'm a single mum, there are no school's where we live that offer bursaries for junior schools. The gifted and talented programme is designed to stretch the top 10%, what happens to those children who are in the top 2%? They are bullied, it's evident from some of the threads on here. Surly to have school's with such a mix of attainment levels then resentment plays a huge part in bullying, isn't it best to help these children? State school's can't cater for all children, there are special schools for children with special needs, why can't there be something more for children who are exceptionally bright?

rexer Tue 08-Sep-09 00:57:04

Hi

I won't be able to make it on Wednesday.

I'd like to ask Ed Balls why it is that Scotland has managed to successfully work with the home education community to formulate leglislation regarding home education and create a mutually beneficial working partnership and yet his government's handling of the Badman review has created widespread anger amongst home educators, with over third of MP's having been contacted over the matter?

Isn't it time for the government to admit they've gone about it the wrong way, apologise and start again, this time genuinely working in partnership with the home education community?

Hassled Tue 08-Sep-09 07:31:11

Firstly – football. Are you optimistic following the appointment of Paul Lambert? Where do you see NCFC at the end of the season? How often do you get to Carrow Road? Are you in the Barclay?

The sign-off of the new Primary National Curriculum is this month. How happy have you been with feedback you’ve received from the trials? I am very much in favour of a Curriculum which promotes Enquiry Based Learning – do you feel the same?

What are your thoughts re the increased birthrate – are plans in place to cope with the pressure the increase will put on education? Already, preschool placements cannot meet demand in some areas, and this is coupled with a lack of joined up thinking prevalent in many LAs. As an example: our Pupil Admission Number, being a new school following re-organisation in the area, was set at the same time as a large patch of quite dense social housing, aimed at families, was being built. While you would have thought the LA could have predicted a change in the demographics given the building project, it appears they didn’t. Our 105 intake had 175 applicants last year.

How can you retain good Governors? Why is online/distance training available for Governors in some areas but not others?

FlamingoBingo Tue 08-Sep-09 07:54:12

I'm sure you won't answer ommmward's questions, but I would like to ask you strongly that you do, please!

And I would like to know why Mr Badman is so strongly against autonomous learning - a way of learning which fits the current law more perfectly than anything else: providing an education that is suitable for a child's age, aptitude and ability. This is something that will change day on day and providing a year's worth of planning will effectively be breaking this part of the law.

LadySharrow Tue 08-Sep-09 08:00:57

Hello,

I believe that many of the problems in the education system today are an unforeseen consequence of league tables and other statistical systems. Everything that a school does is governed by its impact on the statistics; real education is drowned out by this.

Do you consider the statistics, target and league table culture of education to be a good thing or a bad thing?

Thank you

ISeeDadPeople Tue 08-Sep-09 09:12:23

I'm a self-employed mum and would like to know why there can't be a system like the childcare voucher scheme for people who are self-employed.
Thanks

lingle Tue 08-Sep-09 09:18:13

Dear Mr Balls,

I would like to urge the Government to override the report of Sir Jim Rose on the issue of allowing summer-born children to start school at 5.0, not 4.0.

When you read the report, you may have noted that Sir Jim only compared outcomes for September starters versus January starters. He completely ignored the sane common-sense solution of simply allowing immature summer-born boys to start in reception at 5.0 not 4.0 and utterly failed to compare outcomes for starting reception at 4.0 versus the more favourable outcomes associated with starting reception at 5.0.

I have recently taken advantage of Bradford Council's enlightened policy of allowed year-deferment of summer-borns. My teachers, speech therapist and paediatrician all told me that my son, aged 4.0, who has a severe language delay which he is outgrowing, is simply "not ready for school". I assume that in other LEAs these professionals are forced tell parents that their kids miraculously somehow will be "ready" when the truth is that they are plainly not. That is bad and costly for children, (including the other children who miss out on the TA's time) schools and families.

Bradford will incur costs this year by funding an extra year of nursery for my son. But it (and the NHS) has saved far greater costs: had he started reception this week, he would have needed input from speech therapists, educational psychologists, and a one-to-one learning support assistant - at a far greater cost than simply allowing him a nursery place for one more year.

Please, please will you reconsider adopting this sane common-sense solution - I am convinced it would save money and help children at the same time. I was so encouraged to see that the Government was open to it in your brief to Jim Rose, and so sad to see that he completely failed to consider your instructions properly. I have tried - but failed - to find anyone in the field of education who thinks that children positively benefit from starting school at 4.0 not 5.0. I do appreciate there is a question-mark over children who may have been neglected, but such children could be provided with a nursery place rather than a reception place, and this would presumably satisfy the parents.

I would be glad to write to you again with full contact details or indeed to visit you. I feel guilty that I've managed to secure my own child's position but that this silly situation continues to damage other children.

Thanks for your reply.

fatzak Tue 08-Sep-09 09:46:28

Following on from Lingle's post re summer born children and starting school, I would like to ask if there has been any consideration about changing the August 31st cut off point, to some point in June/July? This would at least ensure that every child turned 5 during their reception year and not during the summer holidays.

Madsometimes Tue 08-Sep-09 09:53:30

I agree with Lingle. Why is it that in Scotland, the Republic of Ireland and countless other countries that parents are allowed some flexibility about whether their children start school at 4 or 5 years of age?

In England and Wales if we want to start our summer babies in school the term they become 5, they are required to miss out reception and go straight into year 1. That is simply punishing children for the date on which they are born, totally ludicrous.

I understand that in every class there will be an oldest and youngest child, but in systems with flexibility such as Scotland, there is much less anxiety around this issue. The system is designed to fit in around individual children, rather than individual children having comply with arbitary dates just because it facilitates school administration.

Madsometimes Tue 08-Sep-09 09:58:08

Oops I meant:

Statutory school age is the age when your child must start school. It is the beginning of the term immediately following your child’s 5th birthday.

For summer born children that means that they would miss reception, a vital year for learning and socialisation. So in reality we are forced to send our children to school at just turned 4, a full year before statutory school age.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 08-Sep-09 10:16:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MoonlightMcKenzie Tue 08-Sep-09 10:43:30

How about tackling society's social problems so that babies are not born to parents with addictions in the first place. Surely prevention should be the focus rather than sticky plaster?

LadyHooHa Tue 08-Sep-09 11:05:54

Fluffy, I'd second your post. I also have a super-bright boy (summer born - sorry, folks). We are lucky enough to be able to afford private schools - but I find it dismaying that it should come to that. If British private schools can be so good, why on earth can't state schools do the same? The whole emphasis seems to be on cutting down tall poppies and, preferably, bringing private schools down to the level of state ones.

Why not instead look at what private schools are doing so well, and seek to replicate it in the state sector? Or, failing that, at least offer ways for very, very bright children to have a private education (children can't be coached for NFER tests, for example, and these give a good idea of a child's intelligence. How about considering a decent education for children whose score is over, say, 125 in all NFER tests at seven?)

sorky Tue 08-Sep-09 11:45:21

Lingle
In response to your post regarding your little boy not being ready for school, I just wanted to point out that education in England is only compulsory from the term following the childs' 5th birthday, so a child born in July 2004 would be of compulsory school-age this September term.

This does cause some difficulties with schooling though because your son, should he defer a year, would not be permitted to enter Reception but would enter Year 1 which might well be a huge step up for him to cope with.
The system is insane.

The other alternative is Home Education.

ronshar Tue 08-Sep-09 11:52:34

Thank you for coming to Mumsnet Mr Balls.

I would really like you to give an answer which isn't made up of the usual party line based, sit on the fence, full of jargon which is mostly meaningless to the millions who do not work in Westminster.

Could you please help me to understand why I have to choose for my daughter a Secondary school which at best only gets an average pass mark of 60%. That is the best state school in town. If we had lots of money, however, we could choose from any number of fantastic Private schools locally which feature in the top 100 every single year! My Daughter is in the top groups in all her subjects in middle school, and I really feel sad that we will be letting her down by not giving her the opportunity of a top class education.

Why are our state schools so bad? I mean terrible not bad.
Please can some one be brave and say they got it so wrong and give our children the chance of an education to be proud of instead of having to apologise for!!!!

Thank you for your time.

splendidpear Tue 08-Sep-09 12:05:00

Dear Sir/Madam

I am a constituent of Taunton deane, although I have spent a good part of the past year in Bulgaria, as an unpaid volunteer in an orphanage for children with disabilities. The situation out there continues to be grim. The charities and the government are working to bring about change, but it takes time, a long time, and in the meantime these children continue to live in inhumane conditions.

My husband and I are not rich people, and we have had to come home as our savings have run out. We feel that we need to offer help in some practical way to these children here and now. Our answer is to want to adopt one small boy from the home. He is 7yrs old with Roma background, classed as having disabilities. In fact he is still in nappies and only just beginning to speak his few words. If this is due to disability or due to the gross neglect he has experienced it is impossible to tell. However he has been on the international adoption list for over 3yrs without a single enquiry. In fact I believe I am right in saying that there has never been a single adoption from this institution. We beleive we can offer this little boy a loving nuturing home, that will enable him to fulfil his potential. The big BUT in this situation however is the discovery that to even begin the process of adopting a child from abroad we need to find £6000. This seems to me discriminatory and feels like it becomes an on demand srvice for people wanting a child. We have never considered having another child or adopting until we went to Bulgaria to help and fell in love with a gypsy child with disabilities. Is it not a slightly xenophobic stance to put this monetary barriers in the way of intercountry adoption. Are we not supposed to embrace our fellow EU members as part of one big family. I do not subscribe to a punitive view of Bulgaria for the state of their care homes. They need help, training and lots of it. I have offered as much as a single individual can at ground level. Now I need to return to my life in the UK, but I would like to offer one very disadvantaged child a chance to share that life with me.

The problem suggested in the following article is that by making it a monetary matter people are then choosing children to adopt who do not have "problems" this does not in anyway solve the ongoing problem. Is there no way the government can look to support people like myself who are willing to adopt a child in genuine need, with no other avenue of hope?

sorky Tue 08-Sep-09 12:07:51

I would like to ditto all of Ommmwards points regarding Home Education and ask:

"Why don't the government just leave Home Educators alone to do their job?"

There is no evidence of abuse which requires the draconian legislation currently being touted as "Safeguarding Children"

Trust me Mr. Balls I work in Health & Education and frequently, sadly, have encountered too many cases of child protection.
Not one of them, in 15 years, has involved a home educated child.
Absolutely all of them have been schooled children.

Why then do you seek to persecute a perfectly reasonable, law-abiding section of the Community?

The answer is FEAR.
Fear that you don't have control over every aspect of our lives.
Fear that the children we raise will be free-thinkers, challenging the status quo.

catinthehat2 Tue 08-Sep-09 12:12:11

Heeey chillax Blueshoes! You sound so uptight!

Ed's a politician, he gets this stuff.

BoffinMum Tue 08-Sep-09 12:24:17

The new Schools Admissions Code (2007) is very specific about the basis upon which places in maintained schools must be allocated if a school is oversubscribed. One of the criteria is that priority should be given to siblings of existing pupils, which makes sense for primary schools where parents need to be able to deliver children personally to school within a limited time frame each day. However for secondary schools this criterion is a lot less necessary, as by then children should be making their own way to school anyway, and it has the unintended consequence of making admissions policies unfair to local families who may not have been able to get their first child into a particular school because families who have moved out of the area but who benefit from the sibling rule continue to have privileged access. Does the Government have any plans to remedy this situation?

Maiakins Tue 08-Sep-09 12:31:37

Hi Ed. I would like to ask a question about school admissions and twins/triplets. Do you agree that it is ridiculous that many local authorities are placing twins in separate schools? Surely there should be an exemption to the maximum class size of 30 for twins/triplets?

It is logistically impossible to have young children at different schools and emotionally damaging for many multiples to be apart at such a young age.

Our local authority doesn't even have a space on the admissions form to ask if your children are twins/triplets. It would be really helpful if the government could provide some guidance on this.

Thank you.

Doobydoo Tue 08-Sep-09 12:33:43

splendidpear,how sad for you and the child you could adopt.It all bolis down to money dosen't it?That is why rich people who take drugs and abuse their children will rarely,if ever have them taken away[like Martin Narey's]suggestion...we all know the type of family he is on about...well it stinks!...

Doobydoo Tue 08-Sep-09 12:34:31

Something needs to be done but across the board..not just picking on a certain sector of society

slug Tue 08-Sep-09 13:03:40

Hello Mr Balls

Do you get used to people sniggering at your name?

On a more serious note, could you explain to me why it is that of the 6 schools within walking distance of me are legitimately allowed to deny access to my child on the grounds of religion? If I wanted to apply for a place at these schools, I would have had to have signed a form that says I agree with the school's religion's ethos. I could not do this because my belief that women and homosexuals should be afforded the same rights and priviliges as men contravenes the teachings of the churches. As a consequence I was forced to compete for a place in a heavily oversubscribed state school (why is that you think?) or risk having to bus my child to school miles away. What I really want to know however, is how can the government justify funding these institutions whose basic ethos has the discrimination against women and gays as part of it's core beliefs?

And when does the govt intend to get rid of the Bishops in the House of Lords?

Madsometimes Tue 08-Sep-09 13:03:45

I think most people agree that primary schools have improved greatly under labour. However, I would like to second Ronshar's post about the state of our secondary schools.

I live in Greenwich, and most of our secondary schools struggle to reach 50% A-C incl maths and English. In fact, only the faith and private schools exceed this. How can it be acceptable that more than half of the children educated by my local authority fail to reach the standards set? Yes, I realise that Greenwich's standards are slowly improving, but it is still not good enough. Poor results such as these are being replicated by education authorities all over the country, they are not specific to my area.

RortyDogOfTheRemove Tue 08-Sep-09 13:23:27

I don't agree that they've improved under Labour. I think the whole thing is one big confidence trick.

lingle Tue 08-Sep-09 13:50:04

Sorky,

Thanks for your post.

In the Leeds and Bradford LEA, a Child is permitted to enter RECEPTION a year later and his/her education is offset until they are 18.

Until Sir Jim Rose's report that is..... following which Bradford is abandoning its policy to move to the "punish by placing in year 1" policy instead.

netdaddy Tue 08-Sep-09 14:25:23

No real need to ask any questions of Ed Balls, as whatever you ask you will not get a straight answer. The usual modus operandi of politicians is to take your question, re-phrase so that it matches the stock answer they prepared earlier.

Even if he (EB) was any different from this norm, how could you trust anybody that has allied himself to, and has been pulled up the greasy pole by none other than our wonderful PM (GB plucked him from obscurity at the FT back in the nineties to be his **boy)

Check his own terms and conditions on his own web site 4.1 where he spells it out himself...Ed Balls provides the Web Site and the Information on an "as is" basis and makes no warranty or representation about the availability, completeness, accuracy, satisfactory quality, merchantability and/or fitness of the same for a particular purpose. = you cannot trust what I have written to be true.......lol....what a load of balls, ed.

On a positive note, at least he had the decency to succumb to Gordon's charms, so that his elflike wife did not have to, so that she could join them both at the top of the greasy pole.

The three of them plus the vast majority of the cabinet and the opposition are testimony to my supposition that we are living in an age of mediocracy.

p.s. overheard during an argument over economic policy at no.10 MOVE OVER DARLING I'M GOING TO PUT MY BALLS HERE

Fayrazzled Tue 08-Sep-09 14:27:11

I'm another parent of a summer born boy who is unhappy with the inflexible attitude towards birth-date cut-offs allocating children to school years. My August born son starts reception next week and I send him knowing he is already at a disadvantage compared to his classmates: emotionally, socially and academically. He can't hold a pen and is very mindful of what he can't do compared to his peers- his self-esteem is already damaged and I worry about what school will bring for him. I would love for him to start school next year instead but the inflexible attitude of the LEA is frightening. Even if he could start reception next year at 5, there is no guarantee he won't be forced to join his "correct" year at secondary school, thus missing a vital year of primary education.

So, my question for Mr Balls is: "When really will Every Child Matter and England move to a more flexible school start system like the Scots"?

honeydew Tue 08-Sep-09 14:44:21

I chose to have 3 children in quick succession but have found childcare care provision so appalling and so expensive that I gave up work altogether.

It was far too expensive to put all my children into private nursery care. I was a teacher for 10 years in Secondary education ( a good comp) and became Head of Dept until I had my second child and my wages still did cover the childcare costs for two.

When, oh when is the Government going to sort out early years pre-school provision so that well qualified and experienced women like myself with more than one child can go back to work?!!

We need good quality, affordable, well run state nurseries like the rest of civilised Europe. So many women are still having to 'dumb' down and leave their careers. It's disgraceful. With the cost of housing and general family life, women need and want to go back to work. We don't all have grandparents rely on!

What message does this send out to young, aspirational women if once they have children they have to give up all they have aspired to?

Oh yes, and the 'free' childcare for 3 years olds at pre-schools? It costs us £100 per term to send my son to a local pre-school 4 mornings a week becausue the state only pays for £8.00 out of the £11.00 per session it costs.

honeydew Tue 08-Sep-09 14:45:28

sorry- that should have been 'my wages did not NOT cover my childcare costs.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 08-Sep-09 14:53:30

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

sorky Tue 08-Sep-09 14:58:17

why are we subsidising faith schools and when will we get secular schools?

Also, when will the government force teachers to abandon creationism in these so-called academies?

Will it take an Atheist PM for things to happen?

KeysInTheToilet Tue 08-Sep-09 15:03:02

Dear Mr Balls, thanks for coming on. A long post I am afraid, which I know you will be unable to answer on here but please at least read and consider. Thank you.
I should start by saying thanks for all that has been achieved over recent years- I personally think your party has a good record, and I know the conflict between budget and provision is great.

1. After years working in the field with both struggling families and children n the final years of schooling, I am firmly of the belief that the single most successful way to address social problems is via mentoring schemes. Why is it, then, that both schemes I worked for saved the Government money, yet very quickly succumbed to a loss of funding? HomeStart was shown several years ago to be particularly effective in this way, yet the scheme I worked for closed recently. How does this make good economic sense?

2. Are you aware that Social Services is using the ability to set it’s own definitions as a method of denying support to those who need it? Our eldest child is severely aggressive, and needs a great deal of support. He receives HR care and LR mobility, yet because he was verbal at a young age he was diagnosed as having Asperger’s Syndrome and our local SSD do not classify that as a disability requiring support. Surely assessment by the DLA system which is on an effective needs based level should be a qualifying factor in itself? We also have a child with more sever autism; he is on ‘a waiting list’- hence we receive no help at all. Truly dreadful.

3. The current system of SEN provision aims to ensure that funding is addressed to need by means of the statement system, yet effectively screens by reason of parental ability, motivation and energy. This is not a question, just a fact.

4. Why are councils able to get away with offering no after school support to children with statements (both in mainstream and special needs education)? Parents have a need to earn money regardless, and £53.10 a week in Carer’s Allowance isn’t going to cover much.

5. I agree about birth dates and school entry; we were forced to start out just 4 non verbal incontinent son in mainstream. Madness.

6. What has happened to common sense in Governance? I had to get a statement amended just so that my water averse dairy intolerant autistic child could be given a drink that was neither milk nor water (against school policy: daily drinks were being confiscated- from a minimally verbal child who could not tell us). How ridiculous is that?

7. Young carers: please, they need your help. My 8 year old son can access no services due to over subscription, and is extremely lonely as we cannot have friends here and his friends stop inviting him after a time of non reciprocated requests. Cub Scouts wonderfully managed to secure him a place at little notice, but he needs a future that isn’t determined by the needs of his siblings. Please.

8. As a Carer I need help to find work that is suitable, a report yesterday suggested this should be made available: are there plans to do so? And assistance with funding (for my MA in Autism so highly relevant but about to cost me £180 of my Carer’s Allowance per month, leaving me with very little indeed) for qualification aimed at returning to work would be nice as well.

9. Children with medical needs should be given more help in school, and children with a diagnosis of autism should always have the option of a specialist education. I have watched children with cancer be refused help because it does meet the definition of SEN despite them being very ill and withdrawn, and other children be refused ASD unit places because ‘all the children are totally non verbal so it doesn’t suit less severe children’. I have brought home my own child covered in bruises only to be told that his funding doesn’t cover lunchtime care as that is non educational time. Autism is rising, we don’t know why and we need to find out before we have a generational disaster.

10. As a slight aside, but nevertheless one related to governance, why can’t students be allowed to claim CA and study? It’s of immense interest to the budgets that Carers are enable to find work that pays enough to be viable with their role. Higher level qualification enables that.

PurpleRayne Tue 08-Sep-09 15:42:09

Why did you accept the recommendations of the Badman Report, on behalf of the Government, on the very day it was published, and before the public consultation?

Are you concerned about the volume of complaints coming in regarding the faulty methodology and analysis used by Badman?

Are you concerned that there is now to be a select committee looking at this?

If you are concerned, why are you so intent still on implementing these extreme measures, which are uncosted, draconian, and impact upon the rights of all parents, not just home-educators?

If you are not concerned, please explain why.

Hassled Tue 08-Sep-09 16:07:48

KeysInTheToilet's (very thought-provoking, articulate) post has reminded me of something else I wanted to say (and which he/she refers to): two of my children have SEN, one Statemented, one not. The support they've received from Children's Services has been mostly good, but this is because I have the confidence, initiative and time to spot when the SALT has failed to appear at school, or failed to write the promised report, or the assessment for a laptop has been delayed again, etc etc.

What upsets me is the knowledge that if English wasn't my first language, if I had SEN myself, if I lacked the confidence needed to harangue strangers, my kids would be stuffed. They wouldn't have a chance. The LA's SEN Caseworkers have so many cases that there's no chance in hell they'll be chasing up this stuff themselves. The school's SENCos aren't necessarily on the ball, and again, are overwhelmed. And those unsupported, unrepresented children are those who will end up as the underclass. Do you agree? Is there a solution?

catinthehat2 Tue 08-Sep-09 18:36:01

On a serious note, if people want any sort of a detailed thought through answer to the numerous deadly serious questions posed above, I'm pleading with you to avoid this kind of sucky-uppy line:

"Firstly – football. Are you optimistic following the appointment of Paul Lambert? Where do you see NCFC at the end of the season? How often do you get to Carrow Road? Are you in the Barclay?"

What are you thinking?

For goodness sake, he is a POLITICIAN, he has his own agenda, he will ramble about this tosh for hours while home edders, SN parents, and the rest tap their fingers and wait in vain for a thought through response.

Hassled Tue 08-Sep-09 18:48:03

You're absolutely right, and if it helps, I'm blushing. It was a shameless attempt to draw attention to my post (coupled with a genuine shared interest in the fortunes of the Canaries, and a mild desire to know what he thought). But you're right.

So Mr Balls - I can live without knowing your views on Mr Lambert. I really can. I don't need to know where in the stadium you choose to sit. Focus instead on the rest of my original post, and in fact on education generally. It doesn't really matter which posts you address, as long as it's about education. I thank you.

catinthehat2 Tue 08-Sep-09 19:03:23

Hassled I <heart> you! grin

everymum Tue 08-Sep-09 19:07:07

First of all can I say thank you for taking the time to post here. I await your answers with interest and really hope you will find the courage to rise above stock answers and give us some of your real opinions. It is depressing when politicians don't respect their audience enough to do this.

I have three questions:

1. Are you truly proud of secondary education in this country? Our pupils seem to underperform when compared to the rest of Europe and are (apparently according to UNICEF) much more miserable, drunk, poor and promiscuous. I, and many others like me are frightened to send our children into this system and therefore have to contemplate paying for private education way beyond our means. How can this be something a Labour government feels proud of?

2. Along with Department of Health, your Department is responsibile for improving rates of breastfeeding. Yet, the 'support' I and many like me received in hospital was truly apalling. What are you doing about this that will make a genuine difference to a system where most midwives are poorly trained and ignorant about how to help women. At the moment it seems that women are pressured to breastfeed throughout their pregnancy and yet not properly supported to do so once the baby is born. So if you can't manage to breastfeed you feel like a failure - this seems like the worst of both worlds.

3. This government will be remembered if for nothing else, as being about obsessively setting and measuring targets. Do you really believe that a performance management culture is suitable for the education environment - especially at primary school? Many people feel that teachers have been backed into a corner and made to teach just to improve results rather than to educate and that this has lead to our children having a much more limited education than we did and also that we have produced a generation of worried, stressed children. What do you think? Genuinely.

Thanks.

Grendle Tue 08-Sep-09 20:21:35

Given that health visitors are so influential in the early days/weeks, why are there not national standards of training for them to reach in breastfeeding, weaning, knowledge about normal sleep patterns etc? Actually, ditto for GPs?

I'd echo previous questions about provision of breastfeeding support generally too.

When will the Govt deliver its commitment to increase paid maternity leave to 12 months? I’m sure it was supposed to be during this Parliament, which doesn’t leave you long, tbh!

Why is paternity leave only a measly 2 weeks? In modern society, families are spread round the country and neighbours all work. The postnatal period (the first 6 weeks) is a crucial period of time for a new family and for the mother recovering from a birth. In most cultures people would find it insane that in the UK it is normal for mothers to be out doing the school run, in Tescos (in fact quite possibly in a baby clinic in a supermarket in some parts of the country!!) within days of giving birth and at a time when their body needs to rest, recover and establish feeding. One thing if it is out of choice, but often it is not, as there simply is no-one else to help. When will paternity leave entitlement be increased to a minimum of 4 weeks at min 90% pay, such as to recognise the important role fathers play in family life, especially in the early days?

cleanandclothed Tue 08-Sep-09 20:38:29

Dear Mr Balls

Thank you for agreeing to come on. I would like to ask you what the maternity policy for MPs is. Mr Blair and Mr Brown took paternity leave and as it is 2 weeks at most that is not a particular problem for Parliament or their constituency. However I believe that if an MP takes maternity leave no-one stands in for her on constituency matters. This seems to be very unfair on both the MP and her constituency. I think if MPs turned their minds to sorting this out it would open the way for a debate maternity policy and might lead to more female MPs with direct experience of this issue. Without a proper maternity policy in Parliament mothers are always going to be under represented.

Scottie22 Tue 08-Sep-09 20:40:44

Due to the ridiculously high cost of housing, redundancies, cost of living etc how is the government planning to help parents who are both forced into work in order to survive? It seems that 'middle income' families are being squeezed ever tighter and so many parents are faced with leaving children in childcare from a very young age.
The fallout for children who are being left in childcare for ever longer days and hours as a result will be a sad reflection of how this goverment has allowed the greed of the few become the downfall of the country.

splodge2001 Tue 08-Sep-09 21:47:18

What is happening to the proposed Secondary school for Camden residents living south of Euston Rd. I remember reading that you had intervened and it was getting a green light. Now there's talk that if it happens it wont be ready til 2016!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!! angry shock sad angry

Katymac Tue 08-Sep-09 22:21:11

I have a few questions - they may be a bit technical tho'

1)WRT Funded Early Years Education as provided by childminders; please could you tell me why it is that I have to subsidise funded education as the rate paid by local authorities does not reflect the rate I charge. Non-funded child pays £4 an hour in advance, funded child I receive £3.32 an hour in arrears.

2)When Children's Centres (with nurseries/daycare) open can more market research be done wrt the current childcare market. Although the local children's centre is excellent during the year they first opened the childcare market was so destabilised that nearly 1/3rd of childminders had to close, of course now 18 months later more childminders are needed and new ones are being recruited. An amount of support to the existing childminders during the transition could have saved lots of livelihoods and maintained continuity of care for the children.

3)When EYFS was introduced last year, why were the new regulations for childcare on domestic premises not finalised until mid-August. As an employer required to provide notice of redundancy to staff if we were not able to operate due to the new regulations, I had to needlessly threaten my employees with redundancy when in fact I was able to operate legally.

4)The grant funding to help childminders with EYFS implementation has been very patchy over the country - some childminders have received a grant, others have had the money spent on training they cannot access as they are at work, our grant has been given to the network to but resources that can only be used by accredited childminders (divisive or what) - why has this not been administered so all childminders can access it fully.

5) if parents don't want their 5-18 year old child to study under the national curriculum they can home educate or go to a private school. However it is virtually impossible for a parent to get exemption from EYFS for their under 5's - why is that?

6) Do you really think I as a childminder (who rarely if ever makes a profit) should be required to administer EYFS at the same level as a head of a children's centre, or a head teacher?

7)By introducing level 3 qualifications for childminders (some time in the next decade) you will preclude a vast number of childminders for whom education at this level is unlikely due to poor education or additional needs. This does not make them bad childcarers just discriminated against. In fact the EYFS discriminates against childminder for whom English is a second language or for whom reading (at the level at which the EYFS is written)is not a normal part of their daily lives.

I may add more when I have thought about the subject a little more

musicposy Tue 08-Sep-09 22:33:33

Dear Mr Balls,

I would like to know why, in answering the recent Badman report, all the measures that would help home educators (such as free access to exam centres) were put on the back burner as being too costly, whereas all the recommendations concerning safeguarding are to be implemented, despite the fact that there is no evidence for a need for them, and despite the fact that they too will be extremely expensive to implement.

I would like to know why home educators seem to be the only section of society who seem to be able to be discriminated against by being thought guilty until proven innocent.

semi Tue 08-Sep-09 22:43:08

I have 2 questions - what he Ed doing to engage with parents? No not leafleting, I am talking using new technology - say Broadband Britain 2012 to enter into new dialogue with parents? Q2 Why aren't there any free nursery places anymore? See Guardian article ( http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2007/oct/02/schools.earlyyearseducation)

about nurseries asking for top-ups?
Q3 Childcare for self employed people - with the govt promoting entrepreneurialism as a way to kickstart the economy - ie innovation will give the UK the lead etc - why is it that there aren't government backed 'drop-in' centres or care facilities that such working parents can use?

semi Tue 08-Sep-09 22:44:33

make that 3 questions - I can count, I promise!

ALWgreenwich Tue 08-Sep-09 23:03:11

Why is the cut-off point for assistance with childcare provision based on a crude maximum household income of £60k? Why do they not take into account the cost of childcare?
In London where mortgages and childcare costs are both high and as parents of a (now) 2 and 3 year old and with joint salaries of £70k we have not had any assistance with paying childcare fees of £18k pa in order for me to keep my job! Although my salary is £50k pro-rata'd there is little financial gain in me returning to work until they are in school; I think this is deplorable in a society which is supposed to encourage and assist working women after having children. Our childcare costs and mortgage take up our entire take-home pay; where is the incentive and encouragement for us to continue working?

iamdisappointedinyou Tue 08-Sep-09 23:06:06

The children who have just left school at the end of Y13 were the biggest cohort in their generation i.e. there was a rise in the birthrate leading up to that year and then a tailing off afterwards.
So why did the Government choose this year, of all years, to reduce the number of University places?
This is not a one-off. There are numerous stories on here about the Government's inability to match the supply of places to the number of students at various stages of the education system (eg see Hassled 05.09.09 18:54)

PS: I cannot stand the phrase 'tough choices'. FGS tell the Labour Party to ditch the spin and treat us like adults: call it what it is - spending cuts.

jerin Wed 09-Sep-09 10:09:43

I'd like to second the questions about twins. But would also like the issues of premature babies and maternity/paternity leave looked into. My babies were born prematurely and so my maternity leave was started from their dates of birth however it means I'm due back to work when they are 39 or 52 weeks old but corrected they are 2.5months younger. I'm due back in a months time and my twins are still tiny and unlike full term 9 month olds. Paternity has to be taken within 8 weeks of birth and all together. My partner tried to take emergency leave following their early arrivals but was forced start his paternity. We wanted it to be taken when they came home but instead I was left home alone with tiny twins and a 17 month old.
Twins are so much more costly and when premature there are even more costs associated. I dont want to return to work so early but have to for financial reasons. Luckily have family to help with childcare as a childminder can only have 1 baby under 1 year so would need to find at least 2.

henow Wed 09-Sep-09 10:28:12

My middle child attends our local village primary school classed as 'good' by Ofsted - in reality it is anything but.
By sending him there I have failed in my duty to provide him with an education suitable for his age, aptitude and ability.
How many more parents are breaking the law without even realising it ?

My youngest (non-verbal) child with SEN was physically and mentally bullied by his TA at school. For his own wellbeing I now HE him but under Badman's recommendations I will have to get approval from the very people in the LA who turned a blind eye to what went on at school. Do you think that's acceptable ?

SchoolsBACK Wed 09-Sep-09 10:45:21

Hello,

The new school year started well for our three children with the usual letters home regarding the numerous clubs and school activities they can sign up for. All very well and good that is until a note came through from my younger two about the reduction or end of the after school club where, when they did not have another activity on, they were able to remain at school until 4.30pm. This enabled me to see patients at my dental practise through until 4pm most days - often the children that have come straight from school for a check-up.
All to do with a new "regulation" regarding the supervision of pupils, aged under 8, out of school hours and a new supervision ratio of one teacher to eight pupils that is affecting not only after school provision but also provision of lunchtime supervision. We have three teachers aides with a combined 70 years experience at our school that are now not able to "supervise" our children during these times.
The school is now able to provide only a "limited" number of places after school as it has to provide "qualified" teachers to supervise (what is generally just the watching of a DVD in the library). AND it is now provided at a cost - double the cost for my two daughters.
I would like to know the justification for this change in regulation. What are the benefits to it that outweigh the obvious costs to the already pressured lives of working mums?
Why was three no discussion with those that it impacts - namely the parents - before it was introduced?

jaquelinehyde Wed 09-Sep-09 11:03:24

As a University student just about to begin her second year of an Education and and English lit degree, I shall be watching this with huge interest. Especially as our first semester back is focused on inclusive education, something that I think will be talked about a lot between 1-2 grin

I shall be back later to discuss financial provisions/childcare for a full time mature student and mother of a 2, 3, and 4yr old. grin

burybran Wed 09-Sep-09 11:45:00

Mr Balls

I'm a mum of 1 and have recently returned to work full-time. My preference would be to work part-time, but I have been frustrated in my attempts to find a part time job and any professional part time jobs seem to be extremely rare in the UK. Whilst this government has brought in flexible working legislation, which in theory allows parents the right to request flexible working hours, most big businesses pay only lip service to this and do not, in practice, permit part time or job sharing. Is the government considering strengthening the legislation it has half-heartedly brought in to make flexible working a real possibility in the UK workplace? A real change in culture needs to be forced upon the mainly male dominated business heads of corporates, financial institutions, accountants and law firms if you are to prevent the continued brain drain of women (in particular) who have worked for many years to progress in jobs but who then feel that they have no option but to give up their careers altogether in order to be able to spend some time with their children. This isn't just a woman's problem but one that affects the efficiency of businesses, families and fathers who would like more flexibility too.
Look forward to hearing from you.

manfrom Wed 09-Sep-09 12:07:52

Ed, who do you think should take over from Gordon after the Election?

grumpyoldbookworm Wed 09-Sep-09 12:12:32

Lots of new vocational qualifications like Diplomas have a work experience element, and anyway schools want kids to do at least 2 weeks' work experience at the end of year 10 or 11 , (even if they are not doing Diplomas or other vocational courses), but it is becoming almost impossible to get placements at all ,and especially to get good ones. Some kids are therefore only getting 4 days education a week as the 5th day should be work experience but isn't. Are you monitoring this? I think it will only get worse as firms reduce jobs in the recession.

agathoise Wed 09-Sep-09 12:28:19

Hello

I would like to know your position on transferable personal tax allowances. Currently the tax system discriminates in favour of those families who choose to have two parents in paid employment. Many European countries allow both parents in single income families to use their tax allowance towards the family income.

I am a stay at home mother of four children aged 7 months to 7 years. We pay significantly more tax than a dual income family with the same take home income, simply because of the current rules about transferable tax allowances. From a benefits perspective I am entirely dependant on my husband: his imcome is my only income. Yet from a tax perspective, I cannot use my personal allowance against "our" income. This is very unfair.

I do not want special treatment, nor do I want to see anyone penalised. Allowing all families to apply personal tax allowances towards either personal or (in the case of single income families) family income creates a level playing field for all; nobody loses out, many families will gain.

The Centre for Policy Studies made a cogent argument for this several years ago. Will your government be considering removing this inequality from the tax system? And if not, why not?

splodge2001 Wed 09-Sep-09 12:29:34

I would like to back the questions re faiths schools. When is the government going to finally address the problem of state funded discrimination in the education system - it is shear madness that children can be refused entry to state schools on religious grounds.

I know ministers fear this topic. I know a senior civil servant who resigned because the gov back tracked on scrapping state sponsorship of faith schools -I could name names.....so please can you answer this one MR Balls, pretty please wink

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 12:36:14

Testing, testing (ps it's not Ed - it's Mn Towers - Ed's not here yet though a couple of his people are!).

snice Wed 09-Sep-09 12:39:26

Have they started typing yet?

LadyMuck Wed 09-Sep-09 12:45:18

OK why are a couple of people with him? He might need a decent typist, but who else is there? Yvette?

sfxmum Wed 09-Sep-09 12:46:46

just weighing in on the religious state school business as well, I don't think it is particularly healthy to skew the system in such fashion
state and religion should not really mix at all I do worry about all the academies and so forth along religious affiliation

abouteve Wed 09-Sep-09 12:55:31

I am very pleased about the EMA available to year 12 and 13 pupils.

Is there any possibility of reform in the funding for University, particularly for students from low income families in the next few years.

ZippysMum Wed 09-Sep-09 12:58:54

Another here seconding the comments about twins and maternity leave.

Snuffyisabear Wed 09-Sep-09 12:58:57

Mr. Balls, I would very much like to hear some answers surrounding the Badman review of Home Education.
Firstly, why was this review commisioned when there have been 4 previous consultations on the matter in a very short space of time, all of which concluding that there is no need to alter the satus quo and the last of which only having taken place in 2007 leaving less that 2 years between that and the new one?
Secondly, why was Mr. Badman, who was supposedly still in the midst of gathering information and evidence for the review at the time, heard to tell home educating parents he met that the law was going to change, particularly in light of my first question?
Thirdly, how could you have done the reading, thinking, consulting etc. required in order to fully comprehend the contents of the review and their impact in order accept the review in full within hours of it being published?
Fourthly, why, when asked in parliament about an impact assessment, was the reply given that none was needed and the recommendations were unlikely to have much financial impact on the LA's when just a little thought shows that spending would need to rise considerably if the LA's were forced to undertake the new and extended responsibilities that would be confered on them?
Fiftly, why are the main recommendations in the review being included in the Queen's Speech in November as if the whole thing is already decided when the consultation into the review that is legally required before any such legislation can be contemplated is not yet over, will not end until October and will not publish it's results until January 2010?
Sixthly, why was this review given to a person who has no understanding or experience of Home Education and how it works, who shows incredible bias against the autonomous method of education despite much evidence to show of it's effectiveness, does not appear to understand that it is the duty of the parent, not the state, to ensure a good education for each child (hence the reason parents of truants can be fined or imprisoned while the school is not repremanded) and who appears to believe that official recommendations, guidelines and legistlation written specifically for schools can be easily used in the family home?
Thank you.

wasuup3000 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:01:20

Dear Ed

Like many other parents I have had a difficult time with regard to getting support in place in school for my childrens SEN. It's stressful enough for parents whoose children have difficults without all this extra hassle. In a discussion in parliament on this issue raised by John Bercow-Sarah McCarthy Fry responding said that schools will in future be inspected by OFSTED on their SEN performance. Teachers at present only seem to have 1/2 a days training on SEN issues. This is simply not enough. Will this change and if so how and in what time frame?

slug Wed 09-Sep-09 13:01:46

It's after one o'clock. I feel i should be calling the register...
Balls???

LadyMuck Wed 09-Sep-09 13:03:02

west wing or yes minister?

slug Wed 09-Sep-09 13:04:33

Or In the Loop?

JustineMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 09-Sep-09 13:05:16

Ed is in the Towers - so we're starting in a mo!

slug Wed 09-Sep-09 13:06:00

That's a relief, I was about to mark him absent on the register.

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:07:31

Hi everyone, just arrived ...

Let me start by thanking Mumsnet for inviting me to come here and join you in this live webchat.

On my way here, I was reading through some of the posts that mums (and some dads too) have made on the web site.

And I think it’s fair to say that this is going to be a really lively discussion – perhaps a bit more lively than I was expecting!

I’ll answer as many of your questions as possible in the next hour and I hope we’ll have a really good and constructive discussion about a range of subjects that are important to you – including summer-born children, home education, childcare and extended services.

For the record, our children are now 5, 8 and 10 years old and so in Years 1, 4 and 6 at our local state primary school in Stoke Newington.

They were also all born in the summer so I’ve got some experience of what that means. It would be great to hear the views of Mumsnetters ... and Mumsnet have said they will start a thread on this after the chat has finished.

Some of the parents I talk to want their children to be able to start later in the school year in which they are five.

But others feel it’s right for their children to be at school earlier and don’t want to wait until January or April.

I think that allowing parents to choose what is best for their child is the most important thing. And that’s why I accepted Sir Jim Rose’s recommendation that parents should be able to choose to start their children in reception in the September after their fourth birthday if that’s right for them.

If not, parents can also keep their children in nursery for up to 25 hours a week for free for all or part of that year until they start year 1.

It’s true that they won’t be able to start reception after they turn 5 as some of you have asked – Jim did look at that option but he advised us that it wouldn’t be a good way to support their learning and progress.

anastaisia Wed 09-Sep-09 13:07:40

he'll need a late mark instead slug

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Wed 09-Sep-09 13:08:23

grin
Ed, you're going to be busy by the looks of things. You may need more then an hour!

MoonlightMcKenzie Wed 09-Sep-09 13:08:29

Hello Ed, thank you for coming!

I have some questions about early years and early intervention:

1)Is it government policy to refuse access to services and support to young children with autism and their families 'pending' a diagnosis which has a waiting list that is over a year long for the straightforward cases, or is it just Hertfordshire that does this?

2)Given that Applied Behavioural Analysis is the international standard for treatment for children with autism, and shows immense cost-benefit for both Local Authorities, tax payers and the child and their family, why isn't it the UK standard?

3) not EY question, but where was that photo of you taken?

Thank you

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:08:53

Doobydoo and others - well I have a lot of respect for Martin Narey and he’s an expert in issues around children. But I have to say I don’t think the right thing to do instinctively and quickly is just to put children into care. I think we should try, first of all, to see if we can get to the root of what’s gone on. I think in the Doncaster case, it’s clear there were real issues in that family around alcohol, around abuse and in that kind of case, we need to intervene and see if we can help the family to solve their problems first. In some cases, we’re finding that working with families can reduce abuse, reduce problems around truanting, alcohol, often domestic violence, and get those children and those families back on track – which also prevents them causing problems for their local community. But if this doesn’t work, it’s important to put the interests of the child first and where that means taking them away from the family and into care, then that’s the right thing to do.

Think you will have picked up by now that my children go to our local state primary school near our house in Stoke Newington

wasuup3000 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:09:04

Dear Ed

I have had a difficult time with regard to getting support in place in school for my childrens SEN. It's stressful enough for parents whoose children have difficults without all this extra hassle. In a discussion in parliament on this issue raised by John Bercow-Sarah McCarthy Fry responding said that schools will in future be inspected by OFSTED on their SEN performance. Teachers at present only seem to have 1/2 a days training on SEN issues. This is simply not enough. Will this change and if so how and in what time frame

Madsometimes Wed 09-Sep-09 13:10:37

Why would starting in year 1 rather than reception be better for a summer born child at just 5. Surely it would be disruptive for both them, and for the learning of the other children in year 1. Am I missing something?

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:10:56

I can see home education has come up a number of times in your questions and I thought it would be helpful to explain our thinking.

First, it’s really important to say that I want parents to continue to be able to home educate their child if that’s what they want to do.

The majority of home educated children receive a good education in a safe and loving environment and that is my overwhelming priority.

However, it’s also my responsibility to make sure that all children everywhere get this.

I think it was right to review home education as concerns had been raised about a minority of home-educated children and Graham Badman’s report suggested ways that we could strengthen the current arrangements.

I think his report is good news for children who are home educated and their parents - for example, the report made recommendations which we’ve accepted to make sure that home-educated children with special educational needs have access to the services they would otherwise get through school. We’ll be saying more in the next few weeks about how we will make this happen.

charlieandlola Wed 09-Sep-09 13:11:21

Why can't two parents pool their tax allowances so the stay at home mum's nil rate band is transferred to the working partner?

Why is child tax credit so complicated? Often money is taken away before we know it is due. You also have to guess your future income, including bonus/overtime for the year. It is almost not worth the hassle.

Thanks for coming on MN.

anastaisia Wed 09-Sep-09 13:12:00

When did the state become responsible for education please?

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:12:06

Hassled: On the new primary curriculum, I’m really pleased that the initial analysis shows extremely high levels of support for our proposals. More than two thirds of those asked agree the proposed curriculum is less prescriptive and gives schools more flexibility to meet the needs of their children while providing a solid foundation for primary education. I think it provides lots of opportunities for discussion, experiments, field work, physical activities and visits as well as developing essential knowledge and skills in English and maths.

On the increased birth rate, I know that some parents have been disappointed with the primary school place they’ve got for their child this year because there has been more demand for places than local authorities expected in some areas of the country. I know just how important it is for parents to have a local school place for their child, in a school they are happy with. I don’t want to see children going without places or having to travel miles to school and that’s why we are working to make sure every local school is a good school. As part of this we are working with local authorities and offering them a share of £200m to increase the number of primary places available in the next couple of years.

(I should say for the for the record that I am happy to answer questions about football and to answer Hassled question I’m optimistic about Lambert, my season ticket is in Block A of the upper Barclay stand and while it has been a bit of a mixed start I’m still optimistic)

catinthehat2 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:12:59

Are you cutting and pasting prepared responses?

anastaisia Wed 09-Sep-09 13:13:17

Because according to Lord Adonis the State is only responsible for promoting education and ensuring provision is available for those who want to access state provision.

splodge2001 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:13:27
MoonlightMcKenzie Wed 09-Sep-09 13:13:37

'It’s true that they won’t be able to start reception after they turn 5 as some of you have asked – Jim did look at that option but he advised us that it wouldn’t be a good way to support their learning and progress'

Ed, I have to say I find this attitude most odd. Surely it is about the individual needs of the child? Would this solution not just encourage parents to home educate until they felt their child was ready for school? Would not a 'reception' type first classroom experience not then, be the most suitable and sensible?

gomez Wed 09-Sep-09 13:14:07

Re: starting school in Year 1 at aged 5. In Scotland all children begin in Primary 1 with the potential for an approx. 18 month gap in age. This works well. Why was it felt that it would not work in England & wales?

slug Wed 09-Sep-09 13:15:43

Mr Balls, while it is admirable that you want every school to be a good school (don't we all) you hven't addressed what happens when local children are denied entry to local schools, good or otherwise, on the grounds of their parent's religion. And why the govt funds schools that exclude on religious grounds.

MoonlightMcKenzie Wed 09-Sep-09 13:15:50

And how would a child with Special needs fit in with this rigid school entry policy?

GypsyMoth Wed 09-Sep-09 13:16:15

hello Ed.

i would like to see more provisions for after school clubs and also,breakfast clubs. i so want to come off benefits and work....BUT...we need the extra facilities here. more rural areas. would like to see help more readily available,and affordable ,to cope with the long summer hols and half terms also.

ShrinkingViolet Wed 09-Sep-09 13:16:24

can you answer the specific questions asked about the Badman report rather than your "politician-speak" reply so far please? Home educators have heard a lot of that recently, and would appreciate a proper answer.

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Wed 09-Sep-09 13:16:44

Hello Ed. I've already written about this but just incase you missed it wink
I have a very bright child who is years ahead academically. The state school he was at was clearly unable to support him in this and he quickly became singled out by the other children because he is really bright. He's no longer at school as I am unable to find a school for him. I have the option of going private, however, there is no assisted places scheme and he is not elibible for a scholarship or bursary until next year. There are very limited facilities for children who are in the top 2% of the population, the gifted and talented policy does not work as it does nothing to prevent the victimisation and bullying that can happen. Is there anything you are prepared to do? I'm sure I'm not alone in this.

Katymac Wed 09-Sep-09 13:17:59

If a child is an early years child until the 31st August after their 5th Birthday, why would you want early years children at school - surely by definition they are not school age

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:18:42

Everymum, Ronshar and Madsometimes and others who asked about secondary schools. We've made a lot of progress in raising standards in secondary schools but there is still more to do. And I know how stressful it is for parents when their child is in Yr6 ... some schools are always going to be over subscribed and I know how frustrating it is if you can't get your child into your first choice. The only way I can deal with that is by pushing hard to ensure every parent has a choice of good local schools. Our basic benchmark is 30% of pupils getting 5 good GCSEs including English and Maths ... ten years ago half of schools where below that level; now it's just one in ten ... but I won't be satisfied until every school gets above that basic standard.

northernrefugee39 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:19:14

Hi Ed
I'd like to ask you why you are so keen to promote academy schools when clearly ALL schools need the funding being poured into what are so often separatist faith schools.
Teachers often speak out about the misguided belief in the academy system.

I noticed you saying that ""It's about results, getting the best performance," - why on earth would you fund Steiner schools if results and performance are what academies are about? These schools are based on clairvoyant visions of woo - called anthroposophy, and no way should they receive state funding. I urge you to research the belief system they're based on.

LouThorn Wed 09-Sep-09 13:19:18

I think home educators would have been much more responsive to a review that wasn't announced with the strap line 'because Home Education could be used a cover for abuse', and if they didn't feel they'd been stitched up in the press. Badman presented findings from a tiny minority of LAs (self selected respondents and not representative LAs generally) to journalists, and let them go on thinking 'known to social services' is the same as 'on the at risk register'. Why did you let him do that? You know it's not the same thing, he knows it not the same thing, anyone who really thinks about it for more than a few minutes will realise that it's not the same thing. If you're really concerned about ALL children, please stop and think for a moment how it feels for home educated children to have their parents branded as 'twice as likely' to be child abusers in the mainstream press.

clairemaeve Wed 09-Sep-09 13:19:59

Dear Mr Balls

I moved to the Ealing area last June. I hoped to transfer my daughter (age 5) to her catchment school, or at least a school in the local area. The only placement I have been offered is in the Greenford area. Every other school in the Ealing area is over-subscribed and has a long waiting list. It seems unlikely my daughter will have a place this school year. Indeed no-one can give me an idea of when a place will come up.

The journey to Greenford involves a four hour long round trip (consisting of hour long trips there and back) on London transport as I do not drive. This involves taking my 2 year old on this journey which is not fair on him.

Even though I had a back operation last year and have been advised not to do any heavy lifting (involved in getting a buggy and two children on and off the bus four times a day) the council have told me there is no funding or help available for this journey.

I feel unable to continue with this journey due to my personal health and the wellbeing of my children so have made the decision to home educate my daughter until a place comes up in Ealing. The council advised me against this but were unable to offer an alternative.

I wonder what your views are on the matter?

Regards
Claire Denchfield

manfrom Wed 09-Sep-09 13:20:16

"Our basic benchmark is 30% of pupils getting 5 good GCSEs including English and Maths ..."

Nothing like aiming high, eh?

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 09-Sep-09 13:20:34

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

restlessnative Wed 09-Sep-09 13:20:53

Dear Ed, are you aware that there is a great deal of concern (and on mumsnet too) about Steiner Waldorf schools & any part the state may have in funding these?

onebatmother Wed 09-Sep-09 13:21:51

Hello Ed

Just to add to the summer-born children discussion - surely if a 4 yr old child is not ready for reception, they will not, as a 5 year old, be ready for yr 1?

I would have thought, also, there would be a negative impact on a child's social development to be joining her cohorts 'late', when friendship groups are already established. And without the gentle introduction which Reception provides, won't the child be under-prepared - emotionally, socially, academically - for the demands of Yr 1?

GypsyMoth Wed 09-Sep-09 13:22:13

ED.....it makes me sad that here in beds we are about to lose our three tier system! can you not step in and help save it for us please??

SAVE OUR MIDDLE SCHOOLS

on behalf of beds parents trying to save this.

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:22:20

Thanks for your message Keysinthetoilet, you like some others raise the issue of SEN. I think we have made progress in this area and schools are continuing to improve the progress made by children with special educational needs – but more does need to be done. That’s why we are strengthening inspection law so schools are assessed on how they support children with special educational needs (SEN) and disabilities. I also want to give greater rights to parents who are unhappy with their child’s statement of SEN so they can have more say over the objectives set for their child and appeal the local authority’s decision.

koolmumma Wed 09-Sep-09 13:22:24

Good afternoon,
I would like to ask you how it is ok that my 6 year old daughter has waited five months for council funded counselling (via SAT team) after being abused by two children who were in foster care. I have been fighting and fighting my local council for help. We still have not even had a medical check up. What do you personally think of this?

LissyGlitter Wed 09-Sep-09 13:22:51

Why is maternity allowance only payable if I stay off work almost completely? What if me and my partner both go part time and split the childcare between us while the baby is tiny? IMO this is a big part of how women end up being seen as "in charge" of the kids in a lot of families, and so linked to the pay gap. Two weeks paternity leave in limited circumstances is not enough and sends out the wrong message. I was only just out of hospital with my first child when my partner had to go back to work.

Can I please say that Tax Credits are an absolute lifesaver, and me and my family have done really well out of the welfare state in the last few years and are really grateful. Hopefully we will be able to contribute back to society in the future, and it is all due to the brilliant support, financial, practical and emotional, that we have had from schemes such as surestart, NHS mental health services and the benefits system. Well done to the government. I don't think that gets said enough.

workingmum231 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:23:01

Dear Ed,

If the Badman report is to be trusted, it must be supported by valid, reliable statistics on the connection between home-ed parents and child abuse. Without such evidence, it is ridiculous for the government to endorse the Badman report and its recommendations to mandate a nation wide surveillance of home-ed families. Any reasonable person would question both Badman and the government's underlining assumption that home-ed families are more prone to child abuse than non home-ed families. Can you give us the reason for your suspicion?

If you are worried about identifying problems for home-ed children, there are more cost-effective and less intrusive ways of doing so than those recommended by the Badman report. Start by consulting with home-ed organizations and families.

It is absolutely ludicrous and wasteful for the government to pour huge amounts of resources and tax payer money into pursuing a completely unsubstantiated charge.

snazzyd Wed 09-Sep-09 13:23:14

Hi Ed,

Thanks for coming online, though it looks like you've got a lot to get through!

I want to know about one to one tutoring in primary school. What are your plans for getting some of the new online tutoring websites adopted in primary schools? Specifically maths and English.

Some of these are ideal for home ed. (though that's not my particular interest). What with all the brouhaha about maths ability remaining static for the last 30 yrs it would be nice to see some of the latest services being put into the classroom, if only to help you meet your personalised learning commitments, and all that!

Thanks in advance!

northernrefugee39 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:23:22

I agree with restlessnative- there is huge concern about the funding of steiner waldorf schools. We would like to know how much thorough resarch has been done into the beliefs these schools are based on. Karma, reincarnation and the clairvoyant visions of one man don't seem very...sensible

ScottGF40 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:24:04

Dear Ed,

As the Founder of an international youth project Global Forum 40, which aims to equip young people globally with the knowledge of sexual health and HIV/AIDS, as well as campaigning to ensure sex education is built into curriculums across the world. I would like to know whether schools within the UK, will be providing young people with more access to information on sexual health, as recently we carried out research which showed; 65% of young people felt they did not have the appropiate information given to them in schools. I find this somewhat alarming, especially when STI's are on the rise within the UK, as your probably aware HIV is also starting to effect more and more young people here in the UK. I would like to hear your views on this, as we firmly believe through education issues such as this can be lowered, I look forward to reading your response!

Scott Forbes - British Council Global Changemaker and Founder of Global Forum 40

Madsometimes Wed 09-Sep-09 13:24:20

Our basic benchmark is 30% of pupils getting 5 good GCSEs including English and Maths ...

That is not very ambitious, is it? We all understand that some children will never be able to pass GCSE's, but 70% of 15-16 year old failing is a benchmark shock

NKffffffffc581e6e7X1239eb9499c Wed 09-Sep-09 13:25:08

In regards to home education, evidently you've never recieved a visit from the LA while home educating. The last time they were here my daughter was in tears by the time they left. The new guidelines will prevent autonomous education entirely (which I'm sure you realise) and although that isn't the way we choose to home educate our daughter the home educating families form a community and we will defend everyone's decision to home educate with the method they see fit since most (if not all) produce better results than schools.

Why are home educators being discriminated against when the effort should be put into schools where abuse goes undetected on a daily basis? Home educated children ARE NOT HIDDEN. They socialise (many in local home education groups) but also in after school clubs but also while going to the supermarket, playing in the park and numerous other ways in which school-educated children do.

The only part of this review I see is good news is that we'll (hopefully) have better access to exams (for GCSE's) but I'm sure that'll be the only part of the review that accidentally goes missing.

slug Wed 09-Sep-09 13:25:34

Hi Ed

Do you feel a bit like Margret Thatcher when she was asked about the General Belgrano on TV? It would help if you actually answered a question rather than just giving us endless cut and paste spin.

I can assure you, these women are worse than Jeremy Paxman, they don't give up.

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:26:19

Slug asked about Faith Schools .... The fact is that Faith schools are a really important part of our school system. We have almost 7,000 state funded Faith Schools, almost all of them Church of England or Catholic and many of them have been providing free edcuation to disadvantaged communities for longer than the state has. I have been very clear with Faith Leaders - and they agree with me - that Faith Schools must abide by our tough fair admissions code and promote community cohesion. But the reason why lots of parents want their children to go to Faith Schools is because there are lots of good Faith Schools with a strong ethos. The reason why we now have 200 Academies open and are driving up standards across the board is so that parents who don't want their child to go to a Faith School have a wide choice too.

Madsometimes Wed 09-Sep-09 13:27:53

slug wink

LouThorn Wed 09-Sep-09 13:27:59

Too right. We aren't going to go away. I'd really like the chance to speak to Mr Balls about the Badman review in person. We're having a picnic in Chelmsford on 16th September. Mr Balls, would you care to join us and meet our (not hidden) children?

CanvasBags Wed 09-Sep-09 13:28:24

"Our basic benchmark is 30% of pupils getting 5 good GCSEs"

Wow! Really? Because I think parents deem schools good if over 60% of pupils are gaining 5 GCSEs A-C grades inc. English and Maths. And even from those schools it is a tavesty that 40% of children leave school without the basic qualifications they need to access further education and training and jobs.

I'm aghast that the benchmark for 'good' is so low.

manfrom Wed 09-Sep-09 13:28:48

Blimey the homeschoolers are obv very cross. Who is the unfortunate Badman anwyay?

MoonlightMcKenzie Wed 09-Sep-09 13:28:56

Ed,

My daughter is 1 today. As a birthday message, please could you tell her that she won't have to continue to be neglected due to the fact that her parents have to spend so much time teaching and tutoring her autistic brother because Hertfordshire are only offering one hour autism specific support for which the authority has conceded there is no evidence for it's effectivenss.

Thank you

Katymac Wed 09-Sep-09 13:29:12

To repeat my questions:
1)WRT Funded Early Years Education as provided by childminders; please could you tell me why it is that I have to subsidise funded education as the rate paid by local authorities does not reflect the rate I charge. Non-funded child pays £4 an hour in advance, funded child I receive £3.32 an hour in arrears.

2)When Children's Centres (with nurseries/daycare) open can more market research be done wrt the current childcare market. Although the local children's centre is excellent during the year they first opened the childcare market was so destabilised that nearly 1/3rd of childminders had to close, of course now 18 months later more childminders are needed and new ones are being recruited. An amount of support to the existing childminders during the transition could have saved lots of livelihoods and maintained continuity of care for the children.

3)When EYFS was introduced last year, why were the new regulations for childcare on domestic premises not finalised until mid-August. As an employer required to provide notice of redundancy to staff if we were not able to operate due to the new regulations, I had to needlessly threaten my employees with redundancy when in fact I was able to operate legally.

4)The grant funding to help childminders with EYFS implementation has been very patchy over the country - some childminders have received a grant, others have had the money spent on training they cannot access as they are at work, our grant has been given to the network to but resources that can only be used by accredited childminders (divisive or what) - why has this not been administered so all childminders can access it fully.

5) if parents don't want their 5-18 year old child to study under the national curriculum they can home educate or go to a private school. However it is virtually impossible for a parent to get exemption from EYFS for their under 5's - why is that?

6) Do you really think I as a childminder (who rarely if ever makes a profit) should be required to administer EYFS at the same level as a head of a children's centre, or a head teacher?

7)By introducing level 3 qualifications for childminders (some time in the next decade) you will preclude a vast number of childminders for whom education at this level is unlikely due to poor education or additional needs. This does not make them bad childcarers just discriminated against. In fact the EYFS discriminates against childminder for whom English is a second language or for whom reading (at the level at which the EYFS is written)is not a normal part of their daily lives.

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Wed 09-Sep-09 13:29:16

You can come to Derby aswell if you want and come and see us! smile

Buda Wed 09-Sep-09 13:29:42

"It’s true that they won’t be able to start reception after they turn 5 as some of you have asked – Jim did look at that option but he advised us that it wouldn’t be a good way to support their learning and progress."

Hi Ed and sorry for this in advance but - RUBBISH. If a child is a summer born and not ready to enter Reception at 4 then THEY WILL NOT BE READY TO ENTER YEAR 1 AT 5.

I have an August boy who is now in Year 4. He is doing ok with extra help and support. But if he was in Year 3 he would not need that extra help and support. He would be totally fine. He struggles to keep up with those children who are a year old than him.

In Denmark they start boys a year later than girls. Seems to work there. In Ireland (where I am from) children CAN start the term after they turn 4 but do not legally have to be in school until the term after they turn 5. They all start the Irish equivalent of Reception. Doesn't seem to pose any problems.

The only reason that I (and a lot of other parents) can see for the current situation is laziness. It would not be particularly easy to implement. But not impossible. And if it is implemented as years go on it will become easier. There would be more mixed classes - not a bad thing. Some schools run mixed classes anyway.

It strikes me as total head-in-sand beaurocracy for the sake of it. All children are different. Trying to fit them all into the same hole is not working particulary well at the moment is it? Huge amounts of children leave primary without basic reading and writing skills. Perhaps part of that is that they start too early and never catch up.

I think it is a total disgrace that the government is wedded to this policy.

onebatmother Wed 09-Sep-09 13:29:42

On faith:

Why are state schools still compelled to perform a daily act of collective worship? In other words, why is the state system not secular?

Will the roll-out of the academy programme mean that we will have more state-funded faith schools in five years time?

Does the govt still believe that dividing children at the age of 4 according to the religion of their parents is not divisive?

koolmumma Wed 09-Sep-09 13:29:59

Good afternoon,
I would like to ask you how it is ok that my 6 year old daughter has waited five months for council funded counselling (via SAT team) after being abused by two children who were in foster care. I have been fighting and fighting my local council for help. We still have not even had a medical check up. What do you personally think of this?

northernrefugee39 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:30:19

But not all academys "drive up standards" do they?
Steiner academies certainly don't.
There is a huge concern about the funding of steiner schools. Can you address this?

catinthehat2 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:31:11

EXcellent typing by the way, almost faultless even though you must be under a lot of pressure.

fruitshootsandheaves Wed 09-Sep-09 13:31:27

I love Tiffany. I completely agree with you.

I live near Haverhill and our schools are already going through the process of changing.

With middle schools closing, teachers leaving for more secure jobs and the really small primary schools having to build extra classrooms, the statement that this will not cause disruption to our childrens education is quite frankly a load of crap.

Why can't the middle school system stay as it is. Why change something that is working fine.

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:31:57

Lots of people have asked about childcare. I understand that childcare is a tricky issue for many parents who want or need to work. It’s an area we’ve made huge progress on in the last 12 years, with free early entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds, tax credits and children’s centres with Sure Start, but of course there is always more to do. I am disappointed to hear some of you haven’t been able to use your early education entitlement – it is your local authority’s responsibility to make sure there are enough places. We try to make sure they are fulfilling that responsibility but you should also complain where you are not getting what you should. I hope many of you are finding your local children’s centre is helping to provide services you need and that there is more childcare available through extended schools for older children where I know there can be real difficulties finding after school care and covering the holidays.
I'll mention the tax credit points to Alistair and Yvette

GypsyMoth Wed 09-Sep-09 13:32:07

you can count the mumsnetters here on one hand....many seem to ghave registered just for this occasion!!

not a balanced view of MN mr Balls.....

please answer about our middle schools....Nadine Dorries agrees they should stay,she's TRYING...can't you help??

ScottGF40 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:32:25

Dear Ed,

As the Founder of an international youth project Global Forum 40, which aims to equip young people globally with the knowledge of sexual health and HIV/AIDS, as well as campaigning to ensure sex education is built into curriculums across the world. I would like to know whether schools within the UK, will be providing young people with more access to information on sexual health, as recently we carried out research which showed; 65% of young people felt they did not have the appropiate information given to them in schools. I find this somewhat alarming, especially when STI's are on the rise within the UK, as your probably aware HIV is also starting to effect more and more young people here in the UK. I would like to hear your views on this, as we firmly believe through education issues such as this can be lowered, I look forward to reading your response!

Scott Forbes - British Council Global Changemaker and Founder of Global Forum 40

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:32:37

On Twins:

Maiakins: I completely agree with you that it is ridiculous to split twins and place them in separate schools. I have asked the Schools Adjudicator to look at this issue and make crystal clear in guidance and in the admissions code that splitting up twins when parents don’t want them to be split is the wrong thing to do.

Curiositykilled and Jerin. I have a number of friends who a have had twins and I know how tough it is in the next few months. Of course if you have twins you get two lots of child benefit and if you get tax credits that depends on how many children you've got but to give parents with twins double the length of maternity and paternity pay would be pretty expensive and most people would think it was pretty unfair.

agathoise Wed 09-Sep-09 13:32:45

Slug --

All taxpayers contribute to the cost of the nation's schools; Catholic taxpayers no less than any other taxpayer. The suggestion, therefore, that Catholic schools are being unfairly funded by taxpayers is entirely fallacious. The Catholic community actually pays more for its schools as 10% of the capital expenditure has to be provided from the Catholic community, whereas it is provided by the Government for other maintained schools i.e. they receive 100% funding. In addition to their taxes, the Catholic community provides in excess of a further £20 million per annum to its schools for capital expenditure. It should be remembered that 30% of pupils in Catholic schools are not Catholic and this is therefore a contribution that could be viewed as to the good of society. It also saves Government and arguably other taxpayers money, which they would have to find, were pupils in Catholic voluntary-aided schools to be educated in community schools.

restlessnative Wed 09-Sep-09 13:32:48

Why is there a support group for families who have left Steiner education? And why does mumsnet have to delete links to help when mums come on here asking for help after awful experiences?

LissyGlitter Wed 09-Sep-09 13:32:48

Ed, how come it is possible to qualify as a primary school teacher after retaking the basic skills tests an unlimited amount of times? Surely someone who is obviously barely literate and numerate shouldn't be trying to teach little children how to read, write and count? These tests should be an entrance requirement to the course, surely?

slug Wed 09-Sep-09 13:33:27

Well quite frankly Ed, I think the message is not filtering down to the schools.

How is it socially cohesive to exclude children from schools on the basis of their religion? (or lack of it)

I cannot send my child to a faith school because I am one of the majority in my local community who hold no Christian beliefs. Yet the 5 schools closest to me are faith schools. Any parent who belongs to one of theses faiths can choose to send their child to a faith school or a state school. That choice is quite explicitly denied to me, as it is to the vast majority of parents in my area. The result of this illusion of choice is a heavily oversubscribed state school (excellent though it is) and large numbers of local children being bussed to other areas.

The only choice here is for people who attend the local churches. The rest of us have to put up with what is left.

Given that the UK is no longer a broadly Christian country, why is this situation allowed to persist?

MoonlightMcKenzie Wed 09-Sep-09 13:33:30

shock I registered in early 2006!

wasuup3000 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:33:31

I do think your response to the Bercow report was good and what you are promising for SEN children sounds interesting.
I do sympathise with home edders and don't think it is fair to lump this issue linkin it in with abuse.
To HE must take an awful lot of care and love-children sent to school could be more at risk from abuse.

northernrefugee39 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:35:12

grin @ catinthehat2

I so agree- you do type fast Mr Balls

onebatmother Wed 09-Sep-09 13:35:39

"I have been very clear with Faith Leaders - and they agree with me - that Faith Schools must abide by our tough fair admissions code and promote community cohesion. But the reason why lots of parents want their children to go to Faith Schools is because there are lots of good Faith Schools with a strong ethos."

Ed, with the greatest respect,your tough fair admissionds code is neither here nor there - certainly in London where I live. There are 1 or 2 places left, if any, for the rest of us to fight over after the vast majority have gone to middle-class parents who have played the system.

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:36:05

MoonlightMcKenzie. Happy birthday to your daughter, there is nothing quite like a birthday party for a one year old ... I hope you have a good time! We always found the best solution was to put a tablecloth on the floor and let them get on with it. I have huge sympathy for the balancing act that you are managing, it is really important that we do everything we can to make sure that siblings of children with disabilities don't lose out. But I know how hard that is. That is one reason why we are investing a massive sum in providing short breaks for families with a disabled child. I don't know the details of why Hertfordshire are only offering one hour autism specific support ... have you talked to them about short breaks?

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 09-Sep-09 13:36:09

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GivePeasAChance Wed 09-Sep-09 13:36:25

I would like to ask Balls where his moral barometer sits on key family issues:

1. What is your view on abortion?

2. What is your view on marriage (being necessary et al?)

3. What is your view on why people abuse children and what can be done about it?

catinthehat2 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:36:57

Scott Forbes pic. Loving the personal promotion!

henow Wed 09-Sep-09 13:37:32

My non-verbal child was abused by staff at school yet the government seems to believe he was safer there than at home.

Why should I allow LA officers to interview him alone when they turned a blind eye when he was at school ?

clairemaeve Wed 09-Sep-09 13:38:17

Previous post:
Dear Mr Balls

I moved to the Ealing area last June. I hoped to transfer my daughter (age 5) to her catchment school, or at least a school in the local area. The only placement I have been offered is in the Greenford area. Every other school in the Ealing area is over-subscribed and has a long waiting list. It seems unlikely my daughter will have a place this school year. Indeed no-one can give me an idea of when a place will come up.

The journey to Greenford involves a four hour long round trip (consisting of hour long trips there and back) on London transport as I do not drive. This involves taking my 2 year old on this journey which is not fair on him.

Even though I had a back operation last year and have been advised not to do any heavy lifting (involved in getting a buggy and two children on and off the bus four times a day) the council have told me there is no funding or help available for this journey.

I feel unable to continue with this journey due to my personal health and the wellbeing of my children so have made the decision to home educate my daughter until a place comes up in Ealing. The council advised me against this but were unable to offer an alternative.

I wonder what your views are on the matter?

I would like to add that I recently discovered the council's plans to build a new housing area on part of Gunnersbury Park - I do hope these people don't have children being as local resources are already stretched to the limit. Perhaps building a school would be a better idea?

ZippysMum Wed 09-Sep-09 13:38:35

On twins:

Thank you for your comments. BUT - why would it be unfair for mothers of twins to have more maternity leave?? I will only be taking maternity leave once, rather than twice, like I would if I had had the children as singletons.

I cannot see why, particularly taking into account that twins are often born prematurely, sometimes with health problems, it would be at all unreasonable for parents of twins to be entitled to more maternity / paternity leave.

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Wed 09-Sep-09 13:38:43

AGAIN FOR YOU ED!!!

Appologies for my name.
I am the parent of an incredibly bright boy. It's clear from what's been happening to him that the gifted and talented policy doesn't work. You say that state schools can educate very bright children but in reality they can't. My son has been severly bullied, his work has been ripped up and thrown in the bin, he's been sworn at and his life has been made a misery. At school he is more then a couple of years ahead yet there really is no provision for him. It would make our life so much easier if you could bring back the assisted places scheme. I'm a single mum, there are no school's where we live that offer bursaries for junior schools. The gifted and talented programme is designed to stretch the top 10%, what happens to those children who are in the top 2%? They are bullied, it's evident from some of the threads on here. Surly to have school's with such a mix of attainment levels then resentment plays a huge part in bullying, isn't it best to help these children? State school's can't cater for all children, there are special schools for children with special needs, why can't there be something more for children who are exceptionally bright?

slug Wed 09-Sep-09 13:38:53

Agathoise, are you suggesting that as the state only funds 90% of the school's capital expenditure it should be asllowed to discriminate? If I wanted to send my child to the local Catholic school I was asked to sign a form saying I agreed broadly with the Church's ethos. Given the Catholic church does not agrtee with equal rights for women and homosexuals, a belief which they are allowed to apply in their staff recruitment processes, then I felt I could not sign it. How could I agree to have my child educated in an environment that implicitly believes that she is inferior? That her favourite uncle is evil?

anastaisia Wed 09-Sep-09 13:38:59

I don't think anyone suggested that parents of multiples should have double or triple etc - maternity and paternity pay. What they said was that they probably need more flexibility and in how the leave can be used. And that perhaps they should be entitled to a slightly longer maternity leave beginning earlier in pregnancy.

Anyway - dealing with the other questions about paternity leave would be a start (the government dealing, not you personally here and now) as it is not adaquate as it stands.

agathoise Wed 09-Sep-09 13:39:07

I'd be very grateful if you could address the issue of transferable personal income tax allowances which has been raised by several posters.

Currently the tax system discriminates in favour of those families who choose to have two parents in paid employment. Many European countries allow both parents in single income families to use their tax allowance towards the family income.

I am a stay at home mother of four children aged 7 months to 7 years. We pay significantly more tax than a dual income family with the same take home income, simply because of the current rules about transferable tax allowances. From a benefits perspective I am entirely dependant on my husband: his imcome is my only income. Yet from a tax perspective, I cannot use my personal allowance against "our" income. This is very unfair.

I do not want special treatment, nor do I want to see anyone penalised. Allowing all families to apply personal tax allowances towards either personal or (in the case of single income families) family income creates a level playing field for all; nobody loses out, many families will gain.

The Centre for Policy Studies made a cogent argument for this several years ago. Will your government be considering removing this inequality from the tax system? And if not, why not?

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:40:14

LouThorn and others. I know that many of you feel very strongly about the Badman Review and are passionate about Home Education. My job is to support home educators and that's what I am going to do including by responding to Graham Badman's call for extra support for home educators, especially where a child has SEN. But it is also my job to do everything I can to make sure children are safe, including from abuse or neglect. And that includes home educated children too. There have been high profile cases of 'home educated' children who have been very badly neglected. Graham makes clear that this is a small minority, though disproportionately larger among home educated children. Every child has a right to have a happy and safe childhood.

onebatmother Wed 09-Sep-09 13:40:29

Some academy qu's:

Are there plans to roll out the academy model to primaries?

Building costs have been massively underestimated - how is this going to impact the project?

ShrinkingViolet Wed 09-Sep-09 13:40:34

still waiting for a reply to any of the Badman report questions and comments.....

northernrefugee39 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:41:57

Ed, if your researchers read through this thread after your hour is up, please look into what steers Steiner education, and why full disclosure about the anthroposophic beliefs and laws which guide these schools is essential, because children are caught up in something their parents have a right to be told.

ShrinkingViolet Wed 09-Sep-09 13:42:29

cross posted! So if it's your job to support home educators, why haven't you or Graham Badman actually listened to what we have to say?

slug Wed 09-Sep-09 13:42:30

Why does the government continue to support the academy program when it is so roundly loathed by teachers?

burybran Wed 09-Sep-09 13:42:37

Mr Balls

You've got a lot of questions to answer about education from some understandably riled mums-netters. My query (which I'm repasting from earlier) is on a different pt and would like to hear what the government is proposing to do to tackle this issue if you can get round to answering this one:

I'm a mum of 1 and have recently returned to work full-time. My preference would be to work part-time, but I have been frustrated in my attempts to find a part time job and any professional part time jobs seem to be extremely rare in the UK. Whilst this government has brought in flexible working legislation, which in theory allows parents the right to request flexible working hours, most big businesses pay only lip service to this and do not, in practice, permit part time or job sharing. Is the government considering strengthening the legislation it has half-heartedly brought in to make flexible working a real possibility in the UK workplace? A real change in culture needs to be forced upon the mainly male dominated business heads of corporates, financial institutions, accountants and law firms if you are to prevent the continued brain drain of women (in particular) who have worked for many years to progress in jobs but who then feel that they have no option but to give up their careers altogether in order to be able to spend some time with their children. This isn't just a woman's problem but one that affects the efficiency of businesses, families and fathers who would like more flexibility too.
Look forward to hearing from you.

jaquelinehyde Wed 09-Sep-09 13:43:14

Hi Ed thanks for coming on MN, you get a bravery badge if nothing else.

I was wondering if you could explain what the governments policy/thinking is currently towards inclusive education. This is after all what every school should be aiming for. However, it is very often factors outside of the schools control that affect a childs education. Poverty for example has massive implications on a childs and the schools educational attainment. How is this currently being managed, are there any new plans to tackle this.

Also on the subject of poverty, when will free school meals be rolled out to cover the masses of children who are officially below the poverty line, but don't qualify for them. The threshold for free school meals is a couple of thousand pounds lower than the governments own proverty threshold, which is just plain stupid.

Thank you

antoxo Wed 09-Sep-09 13:44:24

My two boys are currently attending our local primary school but my partner and I looking into private education purely because we don't think they are getting enough individual attention because of the class sizes. This is particularly relevant to our younger son who is struggling with reading and writing. I know this is a big concern amongst a lot of parents. Has the government any intentions of reducing class sizes in primary and secondary schools?

ShrinkingViolet Wed 09-Sep-09 13:44:31

and surely by allowing us to be smeared in the national press as abusers, that's not helping our children have a happy childhood (there have been cases where HE children have been verbally taunted by other children as a direct result of Baroness Morgan (and others) comments to the papers

anastaisia Wed 09-Sep-09 13:44:42

Why were the current child protection measures not used to take action in these 'high profile cases' of home educated children being badly neglected. Do you think it is children's best interests to conflate education and child protection to this extent? Will monitoring be dealt with by social services or education specialists - what training will they have recieved and what will the cost of this training be to taxpayers?

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:45:10

GivePeasAChance.
1. I 100% support a woman's right to choose - within the law which I think is right.
2. I am married, I think marriage is really important, but I fundamentally disagree with those who say that parents who aren't married or their children should be treated as 2nd class citizens, for example having to pay more tax ... pretty much all of us have a friend or family member who has been through a divorce, or been widowed, or sometimes had to leave a violent relationship.
3. I spend time every day asking myself how adults can do some of the things to children that I have to read about, I'm afraid I have no answers.

GypsyMoth Wed 09-Sep-09 13:45:21

second the post about free school meals....will this happen?

henow Wed 09-Sep-09 13:45:29

'Graham makes clear that this is a small minority, though disproportionately larger among home educated children'

He has not produced any evidence of this, his report is full of 'I believe' with no statistical data to back it up. As someone pointed out earlier, known to social services is very different from being at risk. My son is known to SS due to his disability, not because we are suspected of abusing him.

Show HEers the evidence and they might understand why you want to intrude on their lives so much.

To the non-HEers, the proposals by Badman include LAs entering homes and interviewing children alone at least annually without previous due cause for concern. More power than the police have.

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Wed 09-Sep-09 13:46:11

I think Ed's not replying to me because he doesn't like my name!

slug Wed 09-Sep-09 13:46:48

He could just call you fluffy

wasuup3000 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:46:54

Would you give consideration to improving public awareness of child mental health issues for public and professionals alike? At the society in general seems very poor at understanding this issue.

titchy Wed 09-Sep-09 13:47:02

A question about before and after-school care. a few years ago the government assured us that by 2010 every school would provide wrap-around care for working parents.

You seem to have now back-tracked on this, and now only promise it IF THERE IS SUFFICIENT DEMAND.

Whilst I appreciate it may not be economic to offer wrap-around care if there is little demand, by subsidising it and guaranteeing all parents such care, demand will surely increase, thereby getting stay at home parents back to work.

Can you make an assurance that all parents who need wrap-around care will have access to such?

jerin Wed 09-Sep-09 13:47:03

How about parents of premature babies - any way length of maternity leave could be increased - unpaid - to allow parents to take the time off until their babies corrected age.... I know several babies born at 24 weeks who have spent 5 months in hospital - their parents are due to return to work when their babies are barely out of hospital.

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:47:29

Fluffy ... I have visited hundreds of state schools over the last couple of years and invariably Headteachers boast to me about how they are supporting their most talented musicians, gymnasts or mathematicians. I am really sorry that you have had a bad experience, bullying of any kind is wrong.

GypsyMoth Wed 09-Sep-09 13:47:54

hope someone has explained about the daily mail saga already....

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 09-Sep-09 13:47:58

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MoonlightMcKenzie Wed 09-Sep-09 13:49:23

Thank you for your birthday message Ed.

We have requested an initial assessment and a reassessment and despite clearly meeting the eligability criteria in our opinion for support we have beed told that because our son is not as disabled as other children they cannot offer any support.

We have 6 months worth of written correspondance with the Local Authority, plus 1-2 hours per DAY phone conversations to try to get some support but we are told at every turn that there are not enough resources.

The one hour autism specific support is also down to resources, as is the refusal to transport us to the support group given that we don't have our own transport.

I would be interested in your suggestions as to the next step I should take?

Thank you.

kentmumtj Wed 09-Sep-09 13:49:28

I would like to know why the children act speaks of protecting children upto the age of 18 whereas it seems perfectly acceptable to ignore the needs (including emotional)for children of the age of 16

please dont say it doesnt happen i speak from experience of being a Social Worker

wasuup3000 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:50:01

henow-There is no way on earth that I would leave my selectively mute daughter or my son in a room who has ASD alone with a stranger. I'd probably kill anyone first who tried make this happen.

onebatmother Wed 09-Sep-09 13:50:14

Yes Ed - by name, by nature.

Grammar schools: the govt is opposed to selective education, and the 11+ has been dead and gone for 40 yeas. Yet there are still 160-odd grammar schools. Are there plans to phase them out?

ScottGF40 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:50:26

RE POST:

Dear Ed,

As the Founder of an international youth project Global Forum 40, which aims to equip young people globally with the knowledge of sexual health and HIV/AIDS, as well as campaigning to ensure sex education is built into curriculums across the world. I would like to know whether schools within the UK, will be providing young people with more access to information on sexual health, as recently we carried out research which showed; 65% of young people felt they did not have the appropiate information given to them in schools. I find this somewhat alarming, especially when STI's are on the rise within the UK, as your probably aware HIV is also starting to effect more and more young people here in the UK. I would like to hear your views on this, as we firmly believe through education issues such as this can be lowered, I look forward to reading your response!

Scott Forbes - British Council Global Changemaker and Founder of Global Forum 40

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:51:05

LottieJ. I understand your concern, although I do not think this is a party political issue ... the fact is that more special schools closed in the ten years tbefore 1997 than in the last ten years. These are local decisions and should be based on what parents what. I have an outstanding special school in my constituency - for children of primary age with severe learning difficulties - but unfortunately it has had a number of empty places because some parents are choosing to send their children to mainstream schools. On Monday I was in Birmingham visiting a brand new building which has a mainstream and special primary school on the same site, so parents know their child can have both specialist attention and bit part of wider school life. I think that kind of flexible provision is probably the way forward.

LouThorn Wed 09-Sep-09 13:51:32

Which high profile cases?

Really? Which high profile cases? I saw the 4 cases cited in the working paper (the one from the DCSF with the health warning on it about stats that didn't meet the dept's high standards). In all cases the SCR specifically stated that HE officers had no concerns about education or welfare. In at least two of the four cases there was already significant social services contact with the families prior to the event which led to the SCR.

So, I'm still wondering about these high profile cases .... I FOI'd for data on SCR held by the Child Protection Dept at the DCSF. They only had data for cases from 1st April 2007 - to date.

There were 121 cases in total. 88 of those were for children aged between 0-4 years old.

Only 22 were for individuals of compulsory school age, or whom 20 were at registered at school, one was apparently unknown to either school or registered EHE, one whose education provision was not mentioned in the SCR (don't you think if it had been an EHE case it would have been mentioned in the SCR?). Where are these cases?

I think the DSCF needs to have better respect for our intelligence and integrity. We have no interest in covering up genuine cases of abuse/neglect/worse in HE families, we just want the truth. If you respect your electorate, show it by having an open and honest discussion about the flaws in the Badman review.

clairemaeve Wed 09-Sep-09 13:51:48

Previous post:
Dear Mr Balls

I moved to the Ealing area last June. I hoped to transfer my daughter (age 5) to her catchment school, or at least a school in the local area. The only placement I have been offered is in the Greenford area. Every other school in the Ealing area is over-subscribed and has a long waiting list. It seems unlikely my daughter will have a place this school year. Indeed no-one can give me an idea of when a place will come up.

The journey to Greenford involves a four hour long round trip (consisting of hour long trips there and back) on London transport as I do not drive. This involves taking my 2 year old on this journey which is not fair on him.

Even though I had a back operation last year and have been advised not to do any heavy lifting (involved in getting a buggy and two children on and off the bus four times a day) the council have told me there is no funding or help available for this journey.

I feel unable to continue with this journey due to my personal health and the wellbeing of my children so have made the decision to home educate my daughter until a place comes up in Ealing. The council advised me against this but were unable to offer an alternative.

I wonder what your views are on the matter?

I would like to add that I recently discovered the council's plans to build a new housing area on part of Gunnersbury Park - I do hope these people don't have children being as local resources are already stretched to the limit. Perhaps building a school would be a better idea?

Please feel free to reply to my email after the live discussion as I have not had a reply on here:

clairemdenchfield@hotmail.com

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Wed 09-Sep-09 13:51:50

Well, can you point me in the right direction of one because there isn't one where I live! My son was assessed at 9 as having a maths age of 14 and a literacy age of 16+, which was off the scale. There really is no support for him. It's obvious that these provisions are hit and miss but children at the schools that miss are the ones that are missing out. Surly it shouldn't be this way?
He's at home at the moment and it's just taken him 5 minutes to do a whole section in a year 8 maths book. You can't seriously expect a school to cater for him when I can barly do it myself?

Thanks for replying Ed. smile

slug Wed 09-Sep-09 13:52:22

OK Ed,

One final one for you to chew on later. It's probably a bit out of your remit anyway.

The govt has put a lot of pressure on schools to increase GCSE pass rates. Why is it then, as a further education lecturer, I frequently encounter students with a grade C at GCSE English who cannot construct a sentence. They don't know about capital letters, full stops and don't get me started about apostrophe abuse. How can a child, who does not understand that their name needs to start with a capital letter gain a grade C? If that is the 'pass' then what does this say about standards? The same point could be made about Maths. It is very difficult to teach A level maths to students who have to count on their fingers to work out what 4 x 5 equals.

splodge2001 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:53:10

Pls answer question about the proposed secondary school in Camden (south of Euston Rd) or I'll cyber bully you wink

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 13:54:30

Antoxo. In 1997 almost a third of children aged 5, 6 and 7 were in classes over 30, now it is less than one and half percent and we have ten of thousands of more teaching assistants too. But if a child is falling behind in reading and writing they need one-2-one help, which we are providing through Every Child A Reader and other personalised learning for hundreds of thousands of children across the country, it sounds like your son needs this help. Email me some more details via Mumsnet and I will get back to you

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Wed 09-Sep-09 13:55:47

Can I nag you awsell ed?? Please?? smile

SomeGuy Wed 09-Sep-09 13:55:54

Fluffy: why don't you apply for a scholarship for a selective school? For instance, RGS Guildford, which is top boys school in country for A Levels, says "support can be given to cover 100% of fees in appropriate circumstances in which case, support for lunches, travel costs, course and examination fees can be considered."

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 09-Sep-09 13:56:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Wed 09-Sep-09 13:56:57

Because he's 10 and they don't give them out until secondary school. I've tried!!

henow Wed 09-Sep-09 13:56:59

wasuup3000 - if the legislation goes through parents will have no choice. Badman/Ed intend to make it a criminal offence not to allow the your children to be interviewed without you present.

northernrefugee39 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:57:23

If you're aged 7 (and very often 10 and 11 yr olds ime) at Steiner school- you can't read at all. The reasons are bonkers.

catinthehat2 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:57:40

Scott. I'm sure you're a very nice young lad. But this one is for the big girls.

Maybe you want to try emailing Ed privately if you want a job.

clairemaeve Wed 09-Sep-09 13:58:47

I wonder why teaching assistants do not need this education when childminders are expected to undertake lots of training and education (some of which they are expected to fund themselves) at the requirement of the government. However, when they qualify they are not even guaranteed minimum wage as then they are 'self employed'.

wasuup3000 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:59:10

Not all children with SEN are from disadvantaged famillies. Those that are not are usually better representated by the support they recieve in their famillies. Challanging behaviour can present in all types of SEN whatever the background.

paranoid2 Wed 09-Sep-09 13:59:29

Mr Balls - on the subject of premature babies do you think it would be appropriate to allow premature children who are due in september but born in august/May/june to start school in the year that they should have done. t seems ridiculous that children who are up to 3 months premature should have to have the added disadvantage of starting school over a year earlier than other children and children in the year below them can be a year and 3 months older . Many of these children like one of my twin boys can have visual , attention and motor problems as a consequence of their prematurity. Surely there should be a deferment allowed

Madsometimes Wed 09-Sep-09 14:00:26

Do you think that you should increase the number of state boarding schools? These schools are incredibly over subscribed, and provide a lifeline for working families and sometimes for children from chaotic backgrounds too.

I know plenty of families who would consider one for senior school or sixth form. Private boarding schools are simply beyond the reach of all but the most wealthy.

jaquelinehyde Wed 09-Sep-09 14:00:28

Any reply to my inclusive education/poverty/scholl dinners post would be nice please Ed.

wasuup3000 Wed 09-Sep-09 14:00:36

henow-I will be a criminal then rather that thean my child being potentially abused by the system.

SomeGuy Wed 09-Sep-09 14:00:39

Fluffy: that is not entirely true, my son's prep school is nothing famous but they do needs-based bursaries in addition to ability-based scholarships. I would imagine some of the better endowed schools may be more generous.

slug Wed 09-Sep-09 14:00:47

I was taught in classes of 40 or more as a child. I survived. However, as a teacher can I say that teaching assistants are the best idea since sliced bread. A good one is worth their weight in gold. A bad one can ruin a class.

Training for TAs can only make a good idea better.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 09-Sep-09 14:00:55

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Wed 09-Sep-09 14:01:58

There isn't any around here SomeGuy. I've looked through them all!

splodge2001 Wed 09-Sep-09 14:02:12

Finally, do you think you bear more than a passing resemblance to old 'Alien face' John Redwood in this pic? Ed Balls

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 14:02:21

Onebatmother. I was visiting an Academy a few months ago in Bristol, in a tough area where the results are shooting up and I asked a group of teachers how things had gone, they said that yes they were sceptical to begin with that a new building, a new uniform and new leadership would make a difference, but that a year later the sense of pride and aspiration that the children had in their school confounded their expectations. The fact is that Academies are being established in disproportionately disadvantaged areas, taking a more disadvantaged intake than their catchment area and outstripping other schools in their increase in GCSE results year on year. The fact is that it works and that is why I am anxious to have more Universities, Schools, Charities and businesses sponsoring Academies. We have a number of Academies which are now 'all-through' ie, from 5 to 18. My experts advise me that the primary only Academies would not be the right way forward given the investment, cost and complexity of setting up an Academy.

wasuup3000 Wed 09-Sep-09 14:02:27

My daughter is in year 6 and has only moved up 2 sub levels since year 2 in numeracy. Can I email you via mumsnet as well because her difficulties in this area are being ignored.

anastaisia Wed 09-Sep-09 14:02:52

In fact - talking about summer born, premature babies, and children with SEN, wouldn't it make the most sense (although be hugely expensive at first) to use the 21st century schools programme to move away from grouping children by birth year and towards grouping children by ability and maturity instead? So deferring school start, or being late learning to read wouldn't hold children back and they could really be offered 'personalised learning'

GypsyMoth Wed 09-Sep-09 14:03:28

my son has just started year 7 at MIDDLE SCHOOL (await your comments on that mr Balls,alot of parents are fighting these closures)

he's an august 31 birthday,unfortunate i know! i tried to get him moved down a year when we moved tio this area,but no luck!

would just like to say....since year 3 his struggle has increased. Mr Balls,do all you can to address this unfair start for the future. he will struggle now for rest of his life due to this ....he's a whole year behind,always will be too.

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Wed 09-Sep-09 14:03:34

Can I email you aswell ed and pick your brains please? (again)

Franwithaplan Wed 09-Sep-09 14:03:52

hey when did Ed leave, did he say goodbye...?

wasuup3000 Wed 09-Sep-09 14:03:53

stewie-I agree with you there. Presently mainstream teachers are only interested in the hig flyers.

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 14:04:39

Fluffy. Of course, email me via Mumsnet or at DCSF.

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Wed 09-Sep-09 14:05:14

smile Thanks Ed.

wasuup3000 Wed 09-Sep-09 14:05:42

Will we get you or one of your advisers though?

clairemaeve Wed 09-Sep-09 14:05:46

Can I please email you for an answer? I have tried to click on 'contact poster' but it says you have not accepted this option.
Thanks
Claire

LouThorn Wed 09-Sep-09 14:06:05

Quoting Anastasia

"In fact - talking about summer born, premature babies, and children with SEN, wouldn't it make the most sense (although be hugely expensive at first) to use the 21st century schools programme to move away from grouping children by birth year and towards grouping children by ability and maturity instead? So deferring school start, or being late learning to read wouldn't hold children back and they could really be offered 'personalised learning' "

I suspect that there would be a school of thought which would suggest that this would be bad for the less mature students in the class, they learn from the more mature children in their year group.

northernrefugee39 Wed 09-Sep-09 14:06:26

The Steiner academy in Hereford is in a rural area, where the local schools are closing; the local people didn't want it.
The Steiner school asked for a lavish newbuilding ( wooden and curved and spiritual) while rural schools are desperate for money.
It is entirely wrong.
The steiner school only has provision for a smallish number, most of whom were going there anyway. They are getting state funded schooling for clairvoyant karmic based woo.

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 14:07:33

Titchy. All good schools are already providing before and after school clubs and every school must be by 2010. We've given them the money and they should get on with it. It is true that part of the purpose of before and after school clubs is to make things more flexible for parents and that schools can only provide that kind of childcare for parents who are asking for it, but these clubs are also about helping children to learn and have fun and every child deserves those chances.

GypsyMoth Wed 09-Sep-09 14:08:34

not happening here though?? no after school care

SomeGuy Wed 09-Sep-09 14:08:44

Fluffy: realistically I don't think the state can or ever will cater for you. I went to private schools till I was 10 but then state after that and even though the state schools were always those considered 'good', they were still comprehensive and realistically speaking incapable of catering to the FULL range of abilities, especially given that the lower ability range classes were less than half the size of the top.

I hope you find your son a good selective school for Year 7 because the situation will not improve as he gets older.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 09-Sep-09 14:08:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 14:09:43

Franwithaplan - I am still here ... lots of questions, too many to answer let alone read but I am trying.

titchy Wed 09-Sep-09 14:09:51

Wrap-around care - the secondaries in my area are, but NOT the primaries! (And my primary is OFSTED outstanding, top 10 in county).

Thanks for answering though smile

LouThorn Wed 09-Sep-09 14:10:04

And I know my two children get a lot out of mixing with the older ones at HE activities.

Not to mention how much they love being with younger ones and helping out with babies and stuff.

donoharm Wed 09-Sep-09 14:10:37

There is NO evidence in the public domain that the Bad Man proposals would have made any difference in any of these cases. These recommendations are risk averse, disproportionate, have had no impact assessment done and ignore the very large problem of false positive totally overwhelming true positives. The majority of stakeholders were just ignored by Graham badmans dishonest report. Graham Badman seems to have delivered up what the authorities requested though he couldn’t do it with integrity, it represents a strong desire for control by the government regardless of the harm done.

FluffySaysTheDailyMailsShite Wed 09-Sep-09 14:12:57

smile I'll start a thread for you SomeGuy.

"Our basic benchmark is 30% of pupils getting 5 good GCSEs including English and Maths"

If this is true then we should be ashamed of ourselves as a country and you as our government....

LouThorn Wed 09-Sep-09 14:14:18

To Donoharm "There is NO evidence in the public domain that the Bad Man proposals would have made any difference in any of these cases."

well quite, and how are we now supposed to have an open, trusting co-operative relationship with our LAs when we can't trust our govt to be honest with us.

I personally get on my LA HE advisor, but this has tested our relationship. She told me herself she fears that Badman just made her job a hell of a lot harder.

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 14:14:21

Jaquelinehyde. The reason why we are investing so much in new kitchens, training cooks and raising nutritional standards for school meals is because having a healthy lunch is important for every child. I am worried that not all children who qualify for a free school meal are actually getting it but I am also anxious to find out whether spreading the qualification for a free school lunch to some more or all children will lead to more healthy eating and better school results. That is why we are trialling free school lunches for all primary school children this year and next in Newham in East London and in County Durham. And we are trialling extending eligibility for free school lunches to all children where the family gets tax credits in Wolverhampton. Then I can see whether it really does make a difference ...

jaquelinehyde Wed 09-Sep-09 14:14:28

Re-post just incase you missed it first time round.

Hi Ed thanks for coming on MN, you get a bravery badge if nothing else.

I was wondering if you could explain what the governments policy/thinking is currently towards inclusive education. This is after all what every school should be aiming for. However, it is very often factors outside of the schools control that affect a childs education. Poverty for example has massive implications on a childs and the schools educational attainment. How is this currently being managed, are there any new plans to tackle this.

Also on the subject of poverty, when will free school meals be rolled out to cover the masses of children who are officially below the poverty line, but don't qualify for them. The threshold for free school meals is a couple of thousand pounds lower than the governments own proverty threshold, which is just plain stupid.

Thank you

GypsyMoth Wed 09-Sep-09 14:14:29

and us as parents LIBRA!! can't blame everyone else....parents need to take some of the blame there..

jaquelinehyde Wed 09-Sep-09 14:15:00

blush crossed posts how funny grin

SchoolsBACK Wed 09-Sep-09 14:15:27

Mr Balls,

Thanks for taking the time (and having the courage) to enter the hornets nest on this MN site this afternoon.
As you said, far too many quesions to read let alone answer, but thanks for having a go!
Much respected.

CaptainScarlet Wed 09-Sep-09 14:17:18

We are vipers, not hornets hmm

jaquelinehyde Wed 09-Sep-09 14:17:30

Thank-you Ed I shall keep an eye out for those results.

Am I able to email you if I need a few inclusive education questions answered/comments made? (for my education degree) I'll reference you and everything grin

"and us as parents LIBRA!! "

well that was covered in the ourselves as a country bit.....

LadyMuck Wed 09-Sep-09 14:18:38

wets wing or yes minister?

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 14:20:33

LadySharrow. I agree that league tables present a very narrow view of a school based on the performance of the average pupil only.

They don’t recognise whether schools are stretching their best pupils or helping those who have fallen behind catch-up, what they are doing to promote good behaviour or support a child’s wider development, or all of the good work that schools do in their communities.

That’s why I am introducing our new School Report Card, which will give parents all of the same clear and easy to understand information they get from league tables at the moment, but also information about how the school is improving standards; discipline, attendance, sport and healthy eating.

The first pilots of the School Report Card are beginning this month and I’m really looking forward to seeing how it goes because I think it can make a real difference for schools and in particular for parents.

kentmumtj Wed 09-Sep-09 14:21:08

it is such a shame you did not answer my question about The Children Act and protecting and keeping safe children aged 16. it bothers me greatly that the 15 - 18 age groupd needs do seem to be mostly ignored or seen as 'they are old enough to mkae these decicions' when in fact that arent and they end up being left in very emotionally damaging enviroments.

wasuup3000 Wed 09-Sep-09 14:21:42

Will SEn be covered on the Report Card?

GypsyMoth Wed 09-Sep-09 14:21:46

where are those pilots of the report card taking place?
sounds good

jaquelinehyde Wed 09-Sep-09 14:22:25

Love the School Report Card idea, will keep an eye out for that also.

ShrinkingViolet Wed 09-Sep-09 14:23:34

do we get any proper answers to the Barmadn report questions? Ones that aren't just the party line, and show that you have actually listened to what we're saying here?

donoharm Wed 09-Sep-09 14:23:48

Ed what is the evidence, we need to know, you are wishing to either make us criminals or make us abandon our kids to interregation by govenment officials just because we choose a legal alternative to your lovely safe schools. We need the evidence, there is none so far as i can see.

ShrinkingViolet Wed 09-Sep-09 14:24:08

sorry, Badman, can spell, can't type blush

Hello Mr Balls, I know you probably are running out of time and fingers, but I would be interested to know if you would be happy to send your brood to the new academies in Hackney? I understand that your children's education is a private matter, but you will, as you know, nevertheless be publically judged for those private decisions...

donoharm Wed 09-Sep-09 14:26:08

Education vouchers spent as the parent desires would put pait to the need for doomed strategies like the school report. Schools will just find a way to tick the boxes to the detriment of teaching the kids. Let parents have real power and see things improve.

wasuup3000 Wed 09-Sep-09 14:26:16

Badmadman? ;)

ShrinkingViolet Wed 09-Sep-09 14:27:28

LOL wasuup3000 grin

jaquelinehyde Wed 09-Sep-09 14:27:45

Education vouchers would never work.

donoharm Wed 09-Sep-09 14:28:13

Badmadsadman

EdBalls Wed 09-Sep-09 14:31:21

SchoolsBACK. Thanks for your support! It is frustrating for me too not to answer every question but I have really enjoyed it.

To answer LadyMuck, while I loved watching West Wing, nothing beats Yes Minister ... although in our house I don't often get my hands on the remote so I currently have more detailed knowledge of High School Musical 1, 2 and 3.

LibrasBiscuits - you are right this can only be a minimum standard but today we have less than 280 schools below that benchmark, in 1997 it was over 1600 secondary schools so that's progress (even if those in our country who make a career out of running down our state schools don't like to admit it).

Slug and others asked about my name - normally I reply if you think it was bad for me, think how much worse it was for my sister Ophelia (the Editor of a national newspaper once asked me whether my sister was really called Ophelia ...) Seriously, of course there were times when it was hard, especially when I was 10, 11 and 12 ... to be honest parents can sometimes be crueller than children ... but it is very much part of whom I am and I wouldn't change it for a moment.

madameDefarge - I said our children went to a local state primary in Hackney and they will go onto a state secondary too, but while Yvette and I are public figures, and have chosen to be so, our children have never made that choice and I would rather keep their lives private. I hope you understand.

Finally, good to see some postive comments about the Report Card, I think it will make a huge different for schools and for parents. Let's be honest we don't care simply how the average child is doing we all want to know whether the brightest kids are being stretched, children who fall behind get a chance to catch up and whether our child will get the best chance whether they are academic or good with people or more practically minded. I want our schools and teachers and our qualifications to ensure that whatever their talents, every child is helped to succeed and do well and get the best start in life. That is why I come to work every day.

Thanks for your questions and we will get back to as many of you as we can over the next week or so.

wasuup3000 Wed 09-Sep-09 14:32:06

Badmadsadman grin love it!!

onebatmother Wed 09-Sep-09 14:32:14

Could you make sure that 'stretching top 10%' is one of the criteria mentioned on the School Report Card please Ed?

Very hmm about the name btw. The amusing pun makes it sound as though you're not taking it quite seriously enough imo. But I'm touchy.

onebatmother Wed 09-Sep-09 14:33:16

damn i'm typing slowly today

henow Wed 09-Sep-09 14:34:08

'we will get back to as many of you as we can over the next week or so'

With full answers to Badman questions ?
Somehow think not.

donoharm Wed 09-Sep-09 14:34:47

What about us home educators, discrimination continues in the ignoring of our inconvienient questions. Oh well the whole thing is such a stitch up and a whitewash I suppose I shouldn't expect anything else. Shame on you Ed if you are religious you are going to be hot for eternity for the harm you are doing with this unnecesssary meddling.

wasuup3000 Wed 09-Sep-09 14:35:40

We look forward to hearing your answers.

donoharm. Even if Mr Balls is religious, it doesn't actually prove the existence of hell, so you can't say he will be frying nicely for eternity as a result of not doing what you want him to do. False logic.

LouThorn Wed 09-Sep-09 14:39:03

The most charitable explanation of Mr Balls' (and others at the DCSF) refusal to answer specific, difficult questions, is that he is waiting to see what the CSF Select Committee Inquiry says about it all when they meet in October.

henow Wed 09-Sep-09 14:40:29

donoharm - did you really expect him to answer here when he's refused to through the normal channels ?

madameDefarge - there's no need for proof. As long as Badman believes it Ed Balls will accept it in full.

jaquelinehyde Wed 09-Sep-09 14:40:41

donoharm - your comments are ridiculous and over the top.

Ed - thank you for taking the time to come on MN. It would be great if you could come back again sometime, and maybe have time slots for certain subjects, so everyone gets a chance to ask what they want. The area you cover afterall, is a wide.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 09-Sep-09 14:42:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

donoharm Wed 09-Sep-09 14:42:29

'The area you cover afterall, is a wide'

How rude and just a tad sycophantic.

Mindreaders now as well, eh? Blimey, who knew HEs were so talented.

donoharm, what are you on? to say Mr Balls remit is wide is just stating a fact.

donoharm Wed 09-Sep-09 14:44:09

henow, no we don't but we can help publicise the fact that he doesn't or can't and that the rubbish that Badman produced was just what was ordered.

donoharm Wed 09-Sep-09 14:45:26

lol.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 09-Sep-09 14:46:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

onebatmother Wed 09-Sep-09 14:47:25

Loving 'unnecessary meddling'. Like Scooby Doo.

LouThorn Wed 09-Sep-09 14:50:30

I'm confused by the little flame war that we seem to be kindling now. I recognise that some dedicated Mumsnetters may feel slightly miffed that some HEers (myself included) rejoined Mumsnet to get a chance to speak to the minister. As a home educator, I acknowledge that there are other issues in the wide remit of the Children, Schools and Families' Minister which are deserving of his attention (indeed, I wish he would turn his attention towards groups that are more deserving of his 'help'), but am unaware of any other minority group that is currently being slandered by the DCSF nor whose human rights are shortly to be curtailed by DCSF initiated legislation.

Perhaps if there are other groups which face the same challengers as home educators someone would point them out to me, I'd gladly support them.

donoharm Wed 09-Sep-09 14:53:37

Sorry but calling my comments ridiculous is a bit rude don't you think. I do not follow a religion but try not to harm my fellow man, I am just asking Ed Balls to examine his concience. As you say the report is deeply flawed and i believe he knows it, if he didn't when he accepted it without question on the day it was published then he certainly does now, yet he is willing to ignore its lack of integrity and honest and total ignorance of standard research methods in order to bully his way into totally innocent homes. The children 'accessed' in this way will know that their parents wishes have been ridden rough shod over and that they can no longer keep them safe.

An analysis of the responses of 129 local authorities to Freedom of Information requests has revealed that the rate of abuse among children known to be electively home educated is in fact less than a third of that in the population as a whole.

http://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=rbrk5-GEdrUdcmfi670Mihg&gid=2

Badman could have done this research but was either incompetent but for some reason chose not to.

My humour is a better option than the alternative.

You don't need to be a minority educator to be 'slandered' by official reports...happens all the time for state schools.

And the government should be consistent in its approach to all children . They currently have access to all children in the state and private sectors for monitoring standards, so why not HEs?

LouThorn Wed 09-Sep-09 15:02:46

Well, MadameDefarge, that shouldn't happen either. But there is no evidence that home educators are more likely to harm their children than the parents whose choose to send their children to state school. Actually, the group most at risk of harm are children aged 0-4 years old. Should we have compulsory checking for pre-school children too? Annual visits, declarations of intentions of parents for developmental goals for their infants, toddlers required to 'exhibit' their learning to social workers, headteachers or perhaps psychologists? This is what they have planned for home educators.

Maybe the home educators are the pilot study? Imagine the job creation opportunities if they decided to legislate for compulsory registration and monitoring of all parents.

Of course, the flip side of 'we need to do more to ensure home educated children are safe' argument is they think that school children are only 'safe' from their parents because they can check up on your parenting standards whilst children are in school.

jaquelinehyde Wed 09-Sep-09 15:04:47

donoharm - I'm confused as to what you mean.

Lou- I was in no way trying to insinuate that one subject had taken over the whole hour, it was 2 subjects actually, both specialist subjects. This is why I feel it is important that Ed Balls comes back to discuss specific areas in more depth. Then a free for all discussion can take place for other areas.
However, in reply to your post, I happen to believe that the thousands of children being damaged, sometimes killed by social services lack of intervention is very important. Vice versa the over bearing, uneeded intrusion of Social services into some childrens lives, leaving them emotionally damaged for life is also very important. I'm sure you would agree that some of these points should take precident over the various HE struggles at the moment and the oppertunity to discuss them with Ed Balls may have been nice for some.

I would also point you in the direction of children living in poverty, unable to read or write. Living in sink estates next door to/sometimes with drug dealers and alcoholics. Unable to consentrate on schooling due to the fear of what is happening/has happened at home. Or the huge amount of bullied children who fail at school because the schools are failing them.

Again just a few other groups that I think are deserving of discussion with Ed Balls.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 09-Sep-09 15:05:49

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

donoharm Wed 09-Sep-09 15:06:19

If the government had access to children in state and private schools for effective monitoring purposte, (strange I thought it was for educational purposes)the should not be the result.

450,000 children bullied in school every week.
Every year
16 children commit suicide because of bullying and 360,000 children are injured.

LouThorn Wed 09-Sep-09 15:07:00

The point is the monitoring done is schools is to ensure that a) children receive basic standards of education in all state schools (which is a service provided by the state to it's citizens, after all) and b) to ensure that children do not come to any harm from the person employed in schools and nurseries, those people who are 'in loco parentis'. It's ridiculous to say that the govt has a right to inspect my family home because I carry out my duty to provide an education to my children on a personal basis, rather than delegating the responsibility to another person.

The govt also has a reponsibility to ensure that meals provide by state school canteens doesn't give the children food poisoning. The govt has no responsibility to ensure that the food I provide my children at home doesn't give them food poisoning. That's my job.

donoharm Wed 09-Sep-09 15:08:58

jaquelinehyde are you suggesting that he got more time than other subjects? That we should not be posting our concerns because yours are more important? That Ed Balls wasn't able to choose what he read and responded to? I am confused by this.

LouThorn Wed 09-Sep-09 15:11:57

Hi jaquelinehyde,

I hope nobody feels that they were not able to get their point across about various other issues because of messages sent to Ed Balls on the Mumsnet live chat service about the Badman Review. AFAIUI, there were no rationing of messages, and Mr Balls was at liberty to respond to people at will. I am encouraged by the fact that he says he will be back in touch, I'm hopeful that everyone will have a chance to have their say.

LouThorn Wed 09-Sep-09 15:13:06

Personally I am grateful to both Mumsnet and Ed Balls for providing me with this opportunity to have my say on a subject that is extremely dear to my heart on this public forum.

donoharm Wed 09-Sep-09 15:16:49

I am also grateful to mumsnet for putting this on though frustrated at the time it took to register. I will be greatful to Ed Balls when he actually answers important questions, like what damaging HE cases cause concern and causes the DCSF to respond to the many many outstanding freedom of Information requests is is not answering and therebye breaking the law.

donoharm Wed 09-Sep-09 15:19:21

jaquelinehyde The Badman review is important because its implementation will be a total waste of time but will cost millions which will be taken away from measures to help the children you mention. It is especially important not to waste public money in these post credit crunch times.

LouThorn Wed 09-Sep-09 15:30:11

Breaking news for Badman fans .... apparently the safeguarding concerns weren't the evidence that change was needed, that's why they didn't publish the evidence that Badman briefed the papers with, which appeared recently as the DCSF working paper.

"This document [the working paper] was a background analysis of information provided by local authorities. The conclusions of the Review did not depend on this evidence, and it was therefore not published as part of the Review."

So, nothing to do with SCR, or dodgy stats. Now it's all down to LAs finding the current legislation and guidelines unworkable. Except, as Badman stated in the review, some LAs manage perfectly well.

hurrah. well, glad that's all worked out nicely then.

BethNoire Wed 09-Sep-09 16:14:10

'you can count the mumsnetters here on one hand....many seem to ghave registered just for this occasion!!
'

Nah not necessarily- I know keysinthetoilet was a very well known poster under her last name

Lots of name changing lately after all

Hassled Wed 09-Sep-09 16:16:25

Well I think overall the man did well. He at least tried. A lot of the responses did just sound like sound-bites/spin, but we've certainly made our views known and given him stuff to think about.

I think every minister with a portfolio should be forced to do an MN chat. Next week - Alistair Darling!

BethNoire Wed 09-Sep-09 16:18:19

'Perhaps if there are other groups which face the same challengers as home educators someone would point them out to me, I'd gladly support them.
'

Maybe not the exact same challenges but equal I would say: start with the poor, looked after children, children with SEN or SN, young carers....

not less, and not more, but plenty are equal absolutely. And often without parents able to fight their case as HE'd (and my son was HEd for a while) children usually are IME

BethNoire Wed 09-Sep-09 16:23:03

'I still want to know why no universal education/ training program is required for Teachers aides - akin to the PGCE - when the programs are already available from universities?

I have an idea why that may be.

Recently the local college moved TA training to daytimes (as university ocurses tend to be) and suddenly struggled hugely with recruitment as you cannot both study and work at the same time.

maybe a lot of it is that simple? A PGCE is a very intensive year long course, if it is amde the minimum then what happens to all new recruiting?

MoonlightMcKenzie Wed 09-Sep-09 16:31:53

Thank you for coming Ed. It's frustrating that you weren't able to answer all the questions but I know there are a lot of us, and just one of you.

I still think you did a lot better than some past guests and you do appear to have read the questions.

Thank you once again, and if you're ever lonely or bored reading a long strategy document then do come back to see us with a 'topic area' as previously suggested.

Hope we haven't put you off anyway.

mollyroger Wed 09-Sep-09 16:43:16

BethNoire, do you have a siter called Bette...by any chance?

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 09-Sep-09 16:44:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BethNoire Wed 09-Sep-09 17:58:00

Molly- how did you know?

<<flutters eyelashes innocently>>

BethNoire Wed 09-Sep-09 18:01:17

Perhaps some of your post is area specific Stevie? I speak from experience as someone who graduated enbtirely in order to train as a teacher then found my subject was moved to a Uni the absolute opposit side of EWales.

I agree that ecxperience is essential, but TA's are need on a short notice basis often: for example when DS3 was awarded his statement we had 2 weeks until he started school to recruit. That aspect of it is, I agree, awful but nevertheless reality right now.

I don't think an entire year is workable BUT I would absolutely advocate an initial period of training prior to entry into the classroom- two weeks traning or somesuch followed by statutory on the job traning with a HLTA Mentor.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 09-Sep-09 18:29:05

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BethNoire Wed 09-Sep-09 18:39:33

Hmm. I do see where you are coming from but I do also think there are a few flaws- or rather organisational problems. Firstly note verywhere is near a Uni; the County I grew up in still doesn't have one, for a start, it's a fair old trek to access ne.Also,I do think there would be a very real shortgae of TA's for children needing support now- unfortunately they can't wait that extra time. It may just be oura rea, but the TA who eventually ended up as ds3's 1-1 was offered 4 positions in as many weeks and chose our school purely becuase her child attended in the end. Several local kids did start unassisted which is a real shame.

I suppose there are also funding issues; when it became apaprent I couldnt do the PGCE after all I looked at TA training and cannot get it funded becuase I have a degree. I am not cnvinced many peoplewith university ectrance grades would choose tro study for a TA position at current pay levels and then what- shrink the SEN budget even enable tohe wages to be afforded? Most kids with needs already get left aside whenever possible anyway.

I'v taken a new direction- MA in Autism- but there's no way I could have either justified another year of student loan for a position paying minimum wage.

Id o think in essnece i garee with yur idea, deep down I know it is desirable, I just cannot see how it would work in the environments I am familiar with IYSWIM.

jaquelinehyde Wed 09-Sep-09 19:26:15

Lou & donoharm -- I do indeed think that 2 subjects (HE and SN) got more attention/demanded more time from Ed Balls today. I did not however, say that this was a bad thing. I stated that these were specialist areas, and therefore they naturally demand extra attention especially HE with the current uproar going on. If you didn't notice I went on to state that I thought it would be a good idea if Ed came back for subject specific discussions which would benefit everyone, would it not?

Lou requested that other posters draw her attention to other social groups that are as put up on as HEers at the moment. I then mearly mentioned a few of the highly disadvantaged groups that I felt could have been discussed with as much importance.

I had my question answered by Ed (well part of it but I won't grumble), but noticed lots of others didn't, and I can't help but feel that many, many MNers stayed away from this web talk due to the lack of wider debate/discussion.

This is no swipe or dig at anyone or any group. It is mearly an observation. I do not understand why this has been reacted to the way it has.

Darn! Did I miss it? Thought it was tomorrow blush

lingle Wed 09-Sep-09 19:53:33

Attention MNHQ

Re summer-borns.

It's understandable that Mr Balls just referred back to Jim Rose's recommendations.

Could we please invite Sir Jim on to the forum for a webchat?

thanks

lingle

squeaver Wed 09-Sep-09 21:12:30

MNHQ - saw the pic on Twitter. Nice to see you got Boden-ed up for the Minister grin

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 09-Sep-09 21:15:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

upamountain Wed 09-Sep-09 21:59:17

Agree with Lingle:

Mumsnet Sir Jim Rose for a webchat please if you can.

I want to know why as Ed says:

"It’s true that they won’t be able to start reception after they turn 5 as some of you have asked – Jim did look at that option but he advised us that it wouldn’t be a good way to support their learning and progress."

This happens in Scotland if your equivalent to summer born child there (Jan,Feb) isn't ready you can start reception (P1) the year after.
Why would holding a child back in England who if they had been born 1 or 2 months later would have been in the next school year anyway.There is less difference in age between these children and the September ones in the following year than the September ones in the year they are entering.Your child could easily be ready but clearly many feel their children (particularly boys) aren't.It is the whole inflexibility of the system.
I've got two summer borns and dd is bright near top of the year by year 3/4 but started out in bottom groups when assessed in year 1 obviously due to age.Ds will start next year at just 4 is a late talker and is clearly not ready as still needs play/social skills from nursery.Missing reception would just not benefit at all as Year 1 is already numeracy/literacy based moving away from learning through play.I know i am talking to no-one here as the webchat has finished but Ed mentioned there would be a thread?

"It would be great to hear the views of Mumsnetters... and Mumsnet have said they will start a thread on this after the chat has finished."

Where is the thread?

ronshar Wed 09-Sep-09 22:33:34

I am really impressed that Mr Balls seems to have a sense of humour. I thought that was not required in the Labour party!

I am not impressed that we didn't get a proper answer with regards to secondary standards and in particular for those pupils who are academically advanced.

30%. We should hang our heads in shame. The minimum % of children leaving school with a sound knowledge of Maths, English, Science, a second language and ICT should be 100%. Whether this be tested by GCSE or an equivalent for SEN pupils.

lingle Thu 10-Sep-09 08:40:25

"I know i am talking to no-one here"

upamountain - I'm still reading!

I think the only reason we haven't succeeded in getting the Government to overturn Rose (who simply failed to consider the evidence) is that we don't form a natural community as our only link it late-maturing summer-born kids. Whereas if we all shared, say, a faith or a special need it would be easier to get together.

If only mumsnet could help us gather everyone together..........

paranoid2 Thu 10-Sep-09 10:08:37

Keep talking Lingle. I love your posts especially about summer borns which is a sore point with me smile

Madsometimes Thu 10-Sep-09 11:17:14

I'm listening to you Lingle! I have children in year 2 and year 5, both summer born.

When I discussed the summer born problem with the school, they agreed it was a problem. In fact, the senior teacher would like further powers. She said that the problem is not confined to children starting in reception not ready for school. She would like to be able to keep some of her 10 year olds in primary school for a further year. Every year she says goodbye to some year 6 children, knowing full well that they are not equipped to deal with either the academic or social skills required to thrive in secondary school. My dc do not attend a bad primary school, in fact it is Ofsted good. The primary school is not failing these children, it is simply that individual children do all develop at a different rate.

Why send a 4 year old child to primary school if s/he is not ready to access the curriculum?

Why complain that some four year olds cannot speak in proper sentences, take themselves to the toilet, get dressed properly if the parents know that their children are late developers?

Why send an 11 year old to secondary school if s/he is does not have the academic skills or maturity to access the curriculum?

Why complain that some secondary age children cannot master basic maths or literacy and lack the maturity to organise their school timetables, when parents and teachers would like them to have an extra year in primary school?

Actually, if given the choice now, I would keep my children with their year group. dd1 will be ready for secondary school at 11 and one week. dd2 is socially behind, but academically ahead, so little would be gained to keep her back. However, I know that not all children are like mine. Not all children do catch up. I do not even necessarily think a review of school readiness should apply only to children born in July and August. I think every child should be assessed as individual.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-Sep-09 12:25:03

donoharm, how long did it take you to register? Just want to check there's no problem with signing-up process. If you'd prefer to email us, please use contactus@mumsnet.com

Thanks

MoonlightMcKenzie Thu 10-Sep-09 16:36:46

mad and lingle. Do you not think that this issue is much wider than summer born children. Surely education should be flexible enough to meet the needs of ALL children, and this should include those who have SN, who are G&T, and who are HE or part-time HE?

I don't see this as summer-born issue at all, but an issue with the current education system meeting the needs of all children, and working with parents to ensure that each child can access suitable provision and appopriate timing of that provision.

Throwing a child who isn't ready, - for whatever reason, - into a 'standard' classroom, is going to require both the school and the parents to swim upstream in order to ensure that child's needs are met, when delaying, or flexibility could be an easy solution. And if the perpose of reception is to 'receive', then that is where most children will need to begin, regardless of their age.

TBH, I have a vision of education that is probably a long way off. Where school is the monitoring 'hub' or 'centre', but with education happening all over the place, at home, in community groups, in the park, abroad, and linked in to the 'hub' through the www and with classrooms and limited age peer groups being rarely used. Oh well, I'll come back to this planet then......

lingle Thu 10-Sep-09 19:34:34

Moonlight,

I'm more of a change one small thing then the next small thing kind of girl..........particularly as we have the Scottish system available as a model.

remember, if TAs were no longer spending their time looking after immature summer-born boys whose parents weren't allowed to defer, those TAs could be making use of their time to help other children with SEN.

lingle Thu 10-Sep-09 19:36:17

So mumsnetHQ, how about helping us parents of immature boys identify each other in some kind of mumsnet spin-off please? Individual threads are all very well but we can't keep posting the same old message every day....

justagirlfromedgware Fri 11-Sep-09 13:38:02

I agree with Lingle's request for a summer-born children thread. It would be great to share experiences good and bad (my DS was born very late in August).

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Fri 11-Sep-09 17:17:14

Summer-born thread here. Sorry for delay.

And FYI, we're waiting to hear back from Ed Balls' team about responses to questions he didn't get to. Will post once we've got them.

Thanks
MNHQ

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