Monday, 12 January 2015

Nursery World - Children's centres: Why are inspection grades suffering?

"In Ofsted's most recent children's centre inspection results, less than half achieved a good or outstanding grade. From April to June 2014 it inspected 89 centres, of which only 3 per cent achieved an overall outstanding, and 45 per cent were good. A further 42 per cent were judged as requires improvement, and 10 per cent were inadequate. 

The results for the centres, which offer support services to families with children under five in local communities, continue a declining trend since 2010 when Government funding for this provision was pooled with other early intervention funding streams. Then, the resultant Early Intervention Grant was worth about £3bn in today's prices, according to the Children's Society. In 2015, the value of the grant shared between local authorities will have halved to about £1.5bn.

The latest results represent only a small proportion of some 3,300 children's centres in England (an actual total is unclear because of 'cluster' sites). But Ofsted results from November 2013 to March 2014, from 190 centres, were similar - only three per cent outstanding and 46 per cent good.

This is a sharp fall from 2010, when between October and December Ofsted inspected 164 sites. It found 12 per cent to be outstanding and 63 per cent good. Only one per cent was inadequate. Results for children's centres are also worse than for childcare providers and schools. Between April 2014 and 30 June 2014, the watchdog inspected 4,952 childcare providers and awarded 74 per cent an overall good or outstanding grade.

Between September 2013 and 31 August 2014, Ofsted inspected 6,469 maintained schools (including nursery, primary, secondary, special and pupil referral units). It judged 63 per cent good or outstanding.

So why are children's centres performing so badly?.."

Read the full story on the Nursery World website

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Devex - DfID 'dropped the ball' in Ebola response in Sierra Leone

"Senior UK Department for International Development officials have admitted the body made mistakes in its response to the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, while also suggesting how the department could respond better to similar crises in future.

DfID’s chief scientific adviser and director of research and evidence professor Chris Whitty told a panel of influential members of Parliament that the department had “multiple lessons” to learn as a result of the viral epidemic in Sierra Leone, which has now topped 9,000 cases — more than any other affected country in West Africa.

Whitty's comments came during an evidence session held by the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee — known as PAC — which is investigating whether DfID’s response to the ongoing epidemic is providing value-for-money to the U.K. taxpayer.

PAC Chair Margaret Hodge asked Whitty why, during DfID’s years of involvement in Sierra Leone since the end of the country’s civil war, it had not invested more in programs to strengthen the health system..."

Read the full article on

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Guardian Weekend magazine - Experience: I chose to amputate my leg

"Outdoor activities are my passion: skiing, hiking and motor-biking are why I moved to Canada from Israel. That passion is also why I chose to amputate my right leg. It was badly damaged in 2010, in a near-fatal car accident. I was driving along British Columbia’s notorious Coquihalla Highway in a snow storm. I skidded on black ice, spun, and the car flipped on its roof and into the path of a lorry. Three days later, I woke from an induced coma: my right femur was shattered into 17 pieces and my ankle smashed. Three surgeons wanted to amputate the leg; a fourth argued I was still young and might recover..."

Read the full story on the Guardian online

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Devex - Criticism over Ebola response 'far from reality' — WHO official

"More than a year has passed since the first human contracted the deadly Ebola virus that led to an unprecedented outbreak in West Africa. So-called patient zero, a two-year-old in the remote Guinean village of Meliandou, became ill on Dec. 26, 2013, and died two days later.

The World Health Organization, however, did not publish any official notification of Ebola on its website until March 25 of this year.

Since then, WHO, global aid organisations and governments from around the world have battled to halt the disease. As the start of 2015 draws nearer, the epidemic is still raging and has now topped 19,340 reported cases resulting in 7,518 deaths, according to the latest figures released Monday by the U.N. health agency.

Devex caught up with Dr. Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Public Health and Environment Department, which focuses on preventative measures and the root causes of diseases, to know more about how the Ebola epidemic has affected her work, as well as what lessons she has learned so far from the response to the outbreak, and how it might change future WHO operations as a result..."

Read the full article on

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Devex - Gordon Brown’s future global development plans

"Former U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown plans to increase his focus on global development after stepping down as a member of the parliament at the next election, according to aides who supported him during his term in office.

Brown’s resignation after the U.K. general election in May 2015, will end a 31-year career in national politics. However, in recent years the former leader of the Labour Party has increased his development profile, especially on issues affecting children. Shortly after being appointed U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education in 2012, with his wife Sarah Brown he co-founded the international charity Theirworld, which campaigns for universal access to education and encourages business leaders to accelerate progress toward achieving this goal.

Alison McGovern MP, who worked for Brown as his parliamentary private secretary from 2010 until his resignation and is now a shadow minister for education, told Devex there was “no sense in which Gordon is retiring at all..."

Read the full article on