Reward schools on inclusion, urges Centre for Young Lives

Independent think tank The Centre for Young Lives has set out a ten-point plan for the next government to boost children’s life chances, which it says tackles problems that have had little air time during the General Election campaign.

The Centre calls on the next government to reform Ofsted inspections and introduce an inclusion measurement which rewards schools that ensure all their children and young people have access to high quality education, regardless of background and need. 

It also proposes the introduction of a register of children not in school, something promised by Government in April 2019 but never delivered.

Other recommendations include extending the Pupil Premium funding to disadvantaged young people aged 16-to-18 and extending Pupil Premium Plus funding to children in kinship care; as well as enabling all schools to offer safe places to play and take part in activities, including during holidays and weekends, financed by National Lottery Community Funding.

Reducing autism assessment waiting lists by running autism and SEN assessments in primary schools is also recommended.

The proposals also include introducing a one-off £1bn children and young people’s mental health recovery programme, part-financed by a levy on social media companies and mobile phone providers, and a call on the next Government to commission an independent review into the impact of smart phones and social media on children’s health and development to provide the strongest evidence base for an updated Online Safety Act.

The priorities also include a call to abolish the two-child benefit cap, the establishment of a No.10 Poverty Unit tasked with halving child poverty by 2029, and the expansion of Free School Meals to all children with families in receipt of Universal Credit as well as to all primary school children by the end of the Parliament.

Anne Longfield, Executive Chair of the Centre for Young Lives, said: “In over four decades of working and campaigning to improve support and help for children and families, I can’t remember a less impressive Parliament than the one which has just dissolved. Half-hearted reforms to services and sticking plaster investment have failed to meet the scale of the challenges brought about by austerity, the Covid pandemic, and the cost of living crisis."

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