Tag Archives: Social Care

On the cusp: education and social care in the time of Corona – Ian Duckett

Ian Duckett Education correspondent for SATU-East

(First published in the SEA journal, Education Politics , June 2020.)

In recent times I have been the designated safeguarding lead in three educational settings, including an alternative provision attended (or more often not) by some extremely vulnerable young people. In the present pandemic I have been working in the guise of educator.

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Nothing I have experienced in these roles has challenged my view that barriers to learning are neither purely educational concerns to be addressed by teachers nor problems to be solved by social workers. In almost all cases they existed and continue to exist on the cusp of education and social care.

At the heart of this argument is of course the ground breaking legislation by Labour in 2003 and pockets of local initiatives that pre-dated and influenced in and which gave birth to the barely still breathing Sure Start project.

Every Child Matters (ECM) , the radical government initiative for England and Wales that was launched in 2003, at least partly in response to the death of Victoria Climbié,  is one of the most important policy initiatives ever introduced and development in relation to children and children’s services ever. It led in the short to medium term to massive and progressive advances to the children and families agenda, leading to the Children Act 2004. ECM covers children and young adults up to the age of 19, or 24 for those with disabilities and it is important (especially perhaps in the time of Coronavirus) to remember its keynotes:

  • stay safe
  • be healthy
  • enjoy and achieve
  • make a positive contribution
  • achieve economic well-being
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As well as my own harrowing experiences and observations that ranging from victims of abuse and violence to hunger and neglect, the SEA seminar, entitled,  Vulnerable Children and the Lock Down,  on 16 April provided some valuable input. One issue has been the provision of free school meal vouchers. In usual fake tory so called “value for money” solutions, it has been out sourced to a company with inadequate IT to deal with the demand. There are families who are starving because of it. One of the children I have been dealing with in Norwich only engages at all so that he can get a daily Aldi meal deal voucher. There are similar stories in a number of London boroughs.

The BBC’s Newsnight Special Coronavirus: How Britain’s invisible children are being forgotten, broadcast on 9 April (https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p0892xt2) also provided great insight into the social, economic and health crises. The low numbers of at risk children taking their crisis place in a school is frighteningly low and the most economically disadvantaged are without the free school meals service, in some areas as low as 10%.

Newington Green School in Islington was featured. It is in an area, though often seen as leafy and well to do houses and schools some of the most deprived children in the UK. The N1 postcode is on all kinds of cusps.

Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on child protection told BBC Newsnight: “A worryingly low number of vulnerable children allocated a school place in England to keep them safe during the coronavirus crisis are actually turning up”. In some areas just a quarter of the “at risk” children who are meant to be in school are attending, the programme has been told. Norfolk is the only local authority to have reported an official figure. It is 13%. In some areas the figure is below 10%.A head teacher said that she believes those officially deemed “at risk” were “only the tip of the iceberg”.

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Children who would probably be taken into care under normal circumstances, where a more specialised provision would be available are having to be dealt with in a wholly inadequate mainstream provision. Teachers and social workers are on the front line and having to have contact with children and their parents at their own risk.

The remedy for this, of course, as it was in 2003 and always has been: to achieve economic well-being for all of our young people.

This can only be done by preparing learners for employment and economic, independent living through training providers’, proper apprenticeships and work.

The following characteristics would provide the evidence for young learners achieving economic well-being:

■ examples of the development of learners’


■ learners’ involvement and achievement in

enterprise activities;

■ learners developing employability skills;

■ learners engaging in team building and


■ learners access to, and take-up of, careers

education, advice and guidance;

■ personal finance education

■ work experience;

■ work-based learning.

Information, advice and guidance must be evidenced by:

■ careers advice and guidance;

■ a schedule of one-to-one interviews.

The real fear is that the inequalities inherent in a social class rigged education system will be exacerbated by the pandemic school closure in a Michael Gove inspired wet dream with a well- resourced affluent middle-class keeping up with and getting ahead of the school curriculum and an army of disadvantaged youngster with no resource and no encouragement.   A work-related curriculum needs to be rooted in a meaningful skills-based curriculum with transferable skills as its spine and entitlement at its heart and engagement, life-skills, literacy in its blood.

Easing of lockdown must happen safely

Avoiding ​a second wave in the autumn ​is vital

Commenting on the Prime Minister’s announcement today (Tuesday) that there is to be a further easing of the lockdown, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:

“Many people will jump at the chance to see more family and friends, and visit pubs and restaurants, but others will be understandably cautious.

“Good public services need a thriving economy and the spectre of mass unemployment – particularly among the young – must be avoided.

“But the slow return to normal must happen safely. Squandering the lockdown sacrifices ​and progress made in the past three months would be foolish.

“All workplaces opening up must make proper risk assessments of the virus threat. Avoiding ​a second wave in the autumn and preventing the NHS, social care ​and other public services from being overwhelmed ​is vital.”

Labour calls for plan to clear NHS backlog as new analysis shows Covid-19 response causing huge delays for vital scans and diagnostic tests

The Labour Party is  calling for a new resourced plan for the NHS so that services can re-open quickly and safely.

In an Opposition Day Debate in the house of commons, Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, will force a vote calling for a plan to deal with the backlog of care currently building up in the NHS, routine weekly testing programme for NHS and Social Care staff to enable routine NHS services to safely resume, and a functional, national test, trace and isolate system to be operational ahead of the upcoming busy winter period.

Labour has previously called for testing to be expanded beyond symptomatic carriers, so that all NHS and care staff are regularly tested once a week to help infection control and so services can be safely reopened.

The call comes as new analysis from the Labour Party highlight the increasing backlog of care building up in the health service, with an increasing number of patients waiting too long for life saving scans and tests.

Figures published by NHS England show that of the 840,742 people waiting for diagnostic tests, 468,622 are waiting more than 6 weeks for diagnostic tests. More than half, (55.7 per cent) of patients were waiting longer than six weeks for vital diagnostic tests in April 2020. In February 2020, before the pandemic hit, this was 2.8 per cent (29,832 people).

Between February 2020 and April 2020, the figures show that the number of patients waiting over 6 weeks for Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), used to detect tumours throughout the body, increased by over 70,000 people. The number of people waiting for an MRI increased from 5,733 to 78,932, an increase of 1,277 per cent since February 2020. 

Likewise, the number of patients waiting over 6 weeks for:

· A Colonoscopy, used to detect bowel cancer, has increased by 520 per cent (5,234 to 32,430)

· A Flexible Sigmoidoscopy, also used to detect bowel cancer, has increased by 722 per cent (1,820 to 14,957)

· A Cystoscopy, used to detect bladder cancer, has increased by 545 per cent (1,270 to 8,190)

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said:

“Ministers tell us the NHS has ‘coped’ through the Covid-19 peak but that was on the back of cancelled operations, delayed scans and diagnostic tests.

“Estimates suggest two million people are waiting for cancer screening, tests or treatment and that 1600 cases of cancer are currently left undiagnosed every month.

“It’s now urgent ministers bring forward a plan to tackle the backlog in non Covid-19 care. A vital component would be the introduction of weekly routine testing of all NHS staff to keep them and patients safe from Covid-19 while receiving treatment. We’re calling on MPs to support this motion to tackle the rapidly growing queues of their constituents waiting for treatment”.

By working together we can build new strength and new solidarity into our communities

Mark Drakeford – Co-operative Party

We must again draw on the Co-operative Party’s ideas and values if we are to re-think and re-cast the Wales of tomorrow in the face of this current moment of disruption and change.

It would have been understandable had Wales Co-operative Party members taken the decision, given the extraordinary circumstances of Coronavirus, to postpone this year’s annual conference. I am glad they didn’t because though the immediate work of responding to Covid is not yet at an end, it is time to begin to look to the future – to the recovery.

To take the lessons and the new ideas that have come out of this crisis and to begin the work of re-building our economy, our public services and our public realm in a new and a stronger way.  One in which the co-operative movement in Wales has an important role to play.

In doing that work here in Wales we have a solid foundation on which to build. I’m proud of what the Welsh Government has done in recent years to take the fantastic work of the Welsh Co-operatives and Mutuals Commission to make real the values of co-operative action across every area of government – fair shares for all.

In social care we have legislated to support the development of not for profit providers and set up the Integrated Care Fund to promote alternative delivery models. In the foundational economy we have established a new £4.5m experimental fund to test new ideas and ways of working through more than 50 pilot projects that we hope to scale up within procurement.

In housing we are testing new models of co-operative homes and communities and in education we are using co-operative ideas to help shape an exciting new curriculum for the next generation of learners.

But it’s when times get tough that principles get really tested. And over the last few weeks I have been exceptionally proud that in Wales we have had Co-operative members of the Senedd in government turning co-operative principles into practical action.

From the work we have done ensuring that vital support is available for co-operative and social enterprise businesses through the crisis; in recognising the food retail sector as key workers eligible for education and childcare support or in making sure that no companies based in a tax haven get access to support through our Economic Resilience Fund – it is no coincidence that during this crisis it has been to ideas grounded in co-operative principles and campaigns that we have most readily turned.

But perhaps the true genius of the co-operative movement lies not only in the practical change it helps us achieve today, but also in the progressive vision it helps us set out for tomorrow. As we think forward to the Senedd elections in 2021 it is to that co-operative vision of tomorrow that we must again draw strength.

We must build on the excellent work done by the Wales Co-operative Centre to promote community wealth building; we must lean on the work of the People’s Railway campaign to reshape bus and rail transport and we must use the consultation work we have already done in Wales to give the force of law to communities wanting to protect assets of local value and significance for future generations.  In each area enshrining the principle that investments made by the community should see benefits shared by the community.

One need only look back at the last century of the Co-op Party’s work to see the profound and lasting impact co-operative ideas have played in progressive change here in Wales. And it is to that reservoir of ideas and values that we must again draw if are to re-think and re-cast the Wales of tomorrow in the face of this current moment of disruption and change. Drawing on the past to look forward to the future.

An approach all the more resonant in light of what coronavirus has shown us – the need to put fair shares back at the heart of our politics, our economy and our public policy. Fair shares for all.

From Robert Owen onwards this is what has hallmarked the co-operative movement – strong principle allied to practical action.  It is to that experience of the co-operative movement, rooted in people and place, that comes out so strongly in the excellent recent Co-op Party report, ‘Owning the Future’.

That excellent report makes the point that 68% of us do not want to lose the renewed sense of community spirit which has developed through the lockdown to end and that through the institutional embedding of co-operative ideas we can build a fairer, more sustainable economy.

That’s an idea I welcome and share. By working together we can build new strength and new solidarity into our communities, by giving new opportunities to those that need it, by re-building our communities around co-operative values of social justice and fairness, and through fair shares for all.

Jonathan Ashworth calls on Matt Hancock to explain why Coronavirus test and trace system has failed to reach thousands of people

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, responding to government test and trace data which shows that between 28th May –  3rd June, of the total number of people referred to the contact tracing system, a third of people didn’t provide their contacts, said:

“Tracing is vital to the safe easing of lockdown. Though this is early data, Matt Hancock needs to explain at this evening’s press conference why a third of people don’t appear to have been contacted and what action they will take to rectify this.”

Ministers urgently need to prepare for the backlog of care building up – Jonathan Ashworth

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, responding to the publication of data from NHS England on cancer waiting times, said:

“These figures should ring alarm bells for ministers – the drop-in urgent referrals suggests that people are either finding it difficult to access services or are being put off seeing a doctor because of the virus.

“Early diagnosis is key to better treatment and saving lives with cancer, so the effects of not being seen early could be devastating. Ministers urgently need to prepare for the backlog of care that is building up as a result of the pandemic.

“We need a new resourced plan for the NHS; a strategy that enables us to move between the competing demands of the Covid-19 pandemic and non-Covid related care in the months and years ahead.”

“Let our carers keep every penny” – Unite the union call to UK government

In May, the Welsh government announced a special one-off £500 payment for those who provide direct care, in care homes and domiciliary care in the community. The payment also includes ancillary staff such as cooks and cleaners, as well as personal assistants in the community, and nursing staff employed by care homes.

The UK Tory government has said it won’t make this payment tax-free. This means our hardworking social care workforce won’t be able to keep every penny of this special £500 payment.

Welsh Labour deputy leader Carolyn Harris has argued that the payment recognises the exceptional care by some of the lowest paid workers, in exceptional circumstances.

Many social care staff work in private settings do not benefit from nationally negotiated pay schemes such as the Living Wage paid in the Welsh NHS.

Unite the union is encouraging members of the public to sign and share the petition available on our social media to show their strength of feeling.

Unite Wales lead officer for local government Paddy McNaught said: “We want every penny of this £500 to be in the pockets of those care workers who have done so much for so many, throughout the crisis.

“It’s a real shame that the Tories are refusing to waive charges on this special one-off payment. We all know that our social care workers have been absolute heroes. They don’t take home the big pay packets, but have given their all in caring for our loved ones.

“This is a way of showing our thanks, the UK government should see sense and support our care workers.”

Government too slow to act on care home testing

Liz Kendall, Shadow Minister for Social Care, responding to Matthew Hancock’s comments on care home testing, said:

“Last month the Health Secretary promised that by 6 June, all residents and staff in care homes for the over 65s would be tested. Today he said that care homes would only have tests ‘delivered’.

“This isn’t good enough and the Government has been too slow to act. Care home residents and staff need to be regularly tested if we are are going to get to grips with this virus. And we swiftly need to move to regularly testing family members too, so they can safely visit their loved ones.

“Ministers should now implement a comprehensive strategy for regularly testing all care homes – including for the under 65s- and give social care services the priority and resources they deserve.”

Liz Kendall comments on extra costs to be faced by adult social care services due to Coronavirus

Liz Kendall MP, Shadow Minister for Social Care, commenting on LGA research that found providers of adult social care services may face more than £6.6 billion in extra costs due to the Coronavirus crisis by the end of September, said:

“At the start of this pandemic the chancellor rightly promised the NHS would get whatever resources it takes to deal with Coronavirus. The same must now be true for social care.

“Care homes and home care services provide support for people who are most at risk of catching the virus, with all the tragic consequences this can bring. Councils must be given all the resources they need to ensure care providers properly protect elderly and disabled people with the right staffing levels, PPE and infection control measures.

“Social care will be dealing with the consequences of this virus for many months yet to come. It is vital that a long term package of support is put in place now, so all care services can properly plan for the extra pressures they will face in future.”

Jonathan Ashworth responds to the government’s test and trace system announcement

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary, responding to the government’s test and trace system announcement, said:

“We have long called for a functional testing and tracing regime as key to the safe easing of the lockdown. The government’s decision to abandon contact tracing in mid-March was a huge error leaving a huge gap in our defences against the virus.

“We will need everyone asked to cooperate fully with NHS Test and Trace’s stay at home instructions to keep all of us safe. It’s why Boris Johnson’s support for Dominic Cummings is both dangerously irresponsible and undermines vital public health messaging. It remains clear there is still one rule for Mr Johnson’s friends and another for the rest of us.”