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Report cover showing pupils in classroom

Partnering for success: Preparing to deliver the 14-19 education reforms in England

“Getting these reforms right will be vital to the futures of many of our young people. In many cases, local institutions and people on the ground are responding impressively to the need for genuine collaboration to deliver the best education possible for all young people. But the less well developed areas still have much to do to provide all the options young people will be entitled to by 2013.”

Published:
13 Dec 2007
Report cover image of pupils at work in a modern building.

The Academies Programme

“Our report today shows that the Academies programme is improving the standards of education and raising the achievements of pupils from deprived backgrounds. These are early days and more remains to be done, especially in improving English and maths results. The challenge for academies is to sustain the improvements while also spreading their benefits more widely in their communities.

“For the programme, the challenge is to manage capital costs better for the hundreds of new academies still planned to be built and to use the lessons from the programme, for example on good quality school buildings, to get good value for money for the large capital investment currently being made in academies and other secondary schools.”

Published:
23 Feb 2007
Report cover showing child at play

Sure Start Children’s Centres

“Though it is too early to tell the long-term impact of Sure Start children’s centres on children’s lives, we do know that families value the services they provide. It is vital that the services reach the most needy members of our communities. For the future, local authorities and the centres should focus on gaining a better understanding of their costs, and on working effectively with other agencies to get the maximum value from the resources available through children’s centres.”

Published:
19 Dec 2006
Report cover showing a mother and child painting on the table

Child Support Agency – implementation of the child support reforms

“The Child Support reforms were a final but, in the event, unsuccessful attempt to deliver the policy behind the creation of Child Support Agency in 1993. While they have benefited a number of the poorest parents and children, overall they have not achieved value for money and have not achieved what they were designed to do.

“These problems will have caused genuine hardship and distress to many parents and their children. From design to delivery and operation, the programme to reform the Agency has been beset with problems which the Department for Work and Pensions, the Agency and its IT supplier EDS, have struggled to deal with.

“The Agency’s new Operational Improvement Plan is a significant step towards addressing these difficulties and is showing signs of improving the Agency’s performance, but, given the scale of the problems, there will be no quick fix.”

Published:
30 Jun 2006
Report cover showing school children holding apples in a bid for healthy eating

Tackling Child Obesity – First Steps

“Childhood obesity is a serious health problem that can follow people much later into life. It is a causal factor in a number of chronic diseases and conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. If we are serious about tackling childhood obesity then all government agencies and organisations must work together more effectively. Those of us involved in inspection and assessment must ensure that this partnership working really takes place nationally and locally.”

Audit Commission Chief Executive, Steve Bundred, said:

“The Government is facing a significant challenge on a serious social problem, but it is tackling it head on. To succeed, children must be engaged in the home, at school and when being treated by the NHS. It is no surprise that it is very complicated to address because the various government agencies involved are trying to bring about changes to the lifestyles of children and families. The recommendations in this report must be embraced urgently to give the Government the best chance of achieving its target.”

Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, said:

“Central Government must set a clear direction if we are to tackle obesity in children. Given that the target was established in 2004, the three Government Departments could have been quicker in co-ordinating their own actions and in making sure that those on the frontline were fully informed and supported in their efforts. There is now a need for the three Departments to work closely together to provide the leadership and direction that the whole delivery chain requires.”

Published:
28 Feb 2006
Report cover showing a pupil studying the contents of a test tube

Improving poorly performing schools

A large proportion of schools in England provide high standards of education, with pupil attainment improving in primary and secondary schools. However, some schools are performing less well. The Department for Education and Skills and Ofsted use several definitions to identify schools that are performing poorly and need additional support; among the 1,557 schools included … Read more

Published:
11 Jan 2006
Report cover showing pupils entering school

Improving school attendance in England

“Better attendance at school by pupils improves their educational achievements and, in turn, their lives and prospects. Even a small reduction in absence would result in many pupils receiving greater benefit from their education.

“The rate of absence from schools in England has proved difficult to reduce. However, the efforts of the Department for Education and Skills, local authorities and schools are starting to have an impact. They must keep up the momentum and reinforce in schools and among parents and pupils the importance of attending school.”

Published:
4 Feb 2005
Report cover showing mother and baby

Helping Those in Financial Hardship: The Running of the Social Fund

“The Social Fund provides an important safety net for some of the most vulnerable in society, many of whom will have limited or no access to affordable credit and mainstream financial services. The Social Fund is reaching many people in need. But the Department needs to raise awareness of it both with potentially eligible customers and its own staff.

“I am pleased that the Department is improving its debt recovery procedures and standardising the process for dealing with Social Fund applications across the country. But I am concerned about the standard of decision-making on Social Fund applications, as evidenced by the high number of errors on certain awards.”

Published:
13 Jan 2005
Report cover showing people working around at table

Skills for life: improving adult literacy and numeracy

“Higher levels of literacy and numeracy will benefit England both socially and economically. More people will have the opportunity to live richer lives. The Department has made substantial progress since 2001 in improving the teaching of literacy and numeracy and making more people aware of the options and wanting to learn. But this is only the beginning. The Department and its partners will need to be creative and responsive if they are to reach another 1.5 million people by 2010. My report sets out some of the steps they need to take if they are to succeed.”

Published:
15 Dec 2004
Cover of Early Years report

Early Years: Progress in Developing High Quality Childcare and Early Education Accessible to All

“The Government has made impressive progress in creating new childcare places and in providing early education for pre-school children since 1998, but not enough of these new places are yet in deprived areas where they would most benefit children and parents. The Government’s investment will be wasted if the new provision is not viable. More training is needed, especially for childminders, and providers need more support to help them manage their businesses.”

Published:
27 Feb 2004