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Child Support Agency – implementation of the child support reforms

The Child Support Reforms introduced in 2003 were a final but, in the event, unsuccessful attempt to deliver the policy behind the creation of the Child Support Agency in 1993. With hindsight the Child Support Agency was never structured in a way that would enable the policy to be delivered cost-effectively. While the Reforms have … Read more

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

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

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

Skills for life: improving adult literacy and numeracy

Sir John Bourn, head of the National Audit Office, reported today that the Department for Education and Skills has made a good start to its long-term strategy to improve the levels of adult literacy and numeracy in England, but there are more challenges ahead. While the Skills for Life Strategy has met its 2004 target, … Read more