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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
Youth offending - vandals

Youth Offending: the delivery of community and custodial sentences

“The Youth Justice Board has done much to implement reforms to the youth justice system, but more needs to be done to rehabilitate young offenders within the community to reduce risks of reoffending. The movement of young offenders from one institution to another can be unsettling for offenders, breaking developing relationships with those responsible for their supervision, and disrupting educational and other programmes intended to help prevent reoffending. Better assessment of custodial needs, and more recognition of offenders’ progress with their programmes when deciding who to move, would be beneficial.

“And better co-ordination by all agencies involved in supervising young offenders in the community or in providing appropriate support services for such young people would reduce uncertainty for some offenders about accommodation, education or employment on completion of their sentence.”

Published:
21 Jan 2004
Report cover showing children with exam results

Making a Difference: Performance of Maintained Secondary Schools in England

“Measuring and comparing the performance of schools are vital to the task of improving the education of our children. The Department and Ofsted are now able to take into account the influence of external factors in order to analyse the difference that schools make to the academic achievements of their pupils. This provides a more robust and objective assessment of the relative performance of schools, and gives policy makers a firmer basis for targeting their efforts on those schools most in need of support.”

Published:
28 Nov 2003
Cover of Report

Child Support Agency Client Funds Account 2001-2002

“I continue to be concerned at the high level of error in maintenance assessments and I have had to qualify my audit opinion on this account yet again. It is disappointing that the Child Support Reforms aimed at improving the accuracy of maintenance assessments, had to be delayed because testing on a new computer system had not been completed. But it is prudent not to introduce the reforms until it is shown that the system can be operated to specified standards.”

Published:
23 Jul 2002
Report cover showing young people's images on playing cards

The New Deal for Young People

“The New Deal for Young People has been successful in placing 339,000 unemployed young people into jobs, and the programme has also had a beneficial effect on the economy.

“The programme must continue to evolve to meet the needs of the increasing proportion of clients with severe or multiple barriers to employment and the changing economic climate. It is therefore vital that the Department for Work and Pensions and Jobcentre Plus continue to monitor and evaluate the programme’s effectiveness. In particular, they must evaluate the changes introduced to the programme to ensure that it continues to help these vulnerable young people and provide good value for taxpayers’ money.”

Published:
28 Feb 2002