Early years foundation stage profile results: 2016 to 2017

Data on Early Years attainment were published last month for the 2016/17 year, and are available at LA level. The DfE report notes that the proportion of children achieving a good level of development continues to rise and that the gender gap also decreased, though remains significant. There is a useful map showing the proportion of children achieving a good level across the country. The DfE notes that variability between LAs is an issue. Continue reading “Early years foundation stage profile results: 2016 to 2017”

Permanent and fixed-period exclusions in England: 2015 to 2016

The short report on national performance on exclusions is worth reading as it draws out some themes around reason for exclusion, biasses by disadvantage, gender and ethnicity. It also identifies that nationally the number of both permanent and fixed-term exclusions increased in 2015/16, although for permanent exclusions the report sees the longer-term trend as downward.

Data are available at local authority level on number and rate of exclusions, school type, length of fixed-term exclusions and number per pupil, and on reason for exclusion. National data give more detail, including exclusions of children with special educational needs or who are eligible for free school meals. We recommend that LAs and LSCBs review their own performance against the published data. Please do get in touch if you would like us to carry out this work for you.

LAs may be especially interested in what the detailed data on reasons for exclusions can tell them. In some cases this can be linked to data available from the children in need census to build up a picture of local concerns; for instance, the small number of LAs where drug and alcohol use was a higher than average proportion of reasons for exclusion could be linked with data on substance misuse at CiN assessment.

DfE statistics – permanent and fixed-period exclusion

Child death reviews: year ending 31 March 2017

The number of child deaths reviewed by Child Death Overview Panels (CDOPs) on behalf of LSCBs in 2016/17 was largely in line with the previous year, at 3,575. Nationally, the proportion where CDOPs identified “modifiable factors”, defined as “factors which may have contributed to the death … [and] by means of nationally or locally achievable interventions, could be modified to reduce the risk of future child deaths”, increased to 27% from 24% in the previous year. In other words, things that could have been done differently and possibly contributed to the child’s death.

68 children on Child Protection Plans died. 64 children subject to statutory orders died. The report defines this as pre court disposals, Referral Orders, Youth Rehabilitation Orders, and Detention and Training Orders. Oddly, this does not seem to include Care Orders – we have asked the report author to clarify this.

94 Serious Case Reviews were completed in the year, a fall from the high figure of 116 in the previous year. 63% of these deaths were identified as having modifiable factors.

Somewhat surprisingly, only 46% of deaths caused by suicide or self-harm were found to have modifiable factors. This suggests that CDOPs’s views in the majority of these deaths were that these deaths could not have been prevented.

Data are not published at the level of individual LSCBs because of the low numbers of children involved. The total number of reviews and of deaths identified as having modifiable factors are published by region, but all other published data is national only. Timescales for completing reviews (Table 3 of the published dataset) are improving nationally and we do recommend that LSCBs look at their own performance against the national picture – bearing in mind however the effect of small numbers. Apart from timescales, we would not expect or recommend that Boards carry out analysis of their own CDOP data against others, as small numbers would skew apparent performance. We would, however, expect that Board members do a basic review of their own figures and challenge as necessary. For instance, if child deaths where the child was on a Child Protection Plan make up a much higher proportion of child deaths than the 2% national figure, the Board would have a responsibility to identify if there is an issue here or whether it is just the result of very small numbers of deaths.

DfE statistics – child death reviews

Stability Index

This is a really interesting initiative from the Children’s Commissioner, creating a more in-depth measure of stability for children looked after than the current stability of placement measures (children with three or more placements in a year, and children looked after for 2.5 years aged under 16 who have been in the same placement for the last 2 years, or are placed for adoption).

They used data from the CLA return to identify children who had a placement move in 2015/16, School Census data to identify children looked after who had a change of school in the year (including a move to a new school as part of the normal admissions round), and an exercise with 22 LAs to identify children with a change of social worker in the year.

The researchers estimate that 71% of all children looked after experienced a change in at least one of placement, school or SW in the year. 5% of children had changes in all three areas.

They went on to think about children with “high instability”: several placements in the year, or a mid-year school move, or several changes of social worker, and found that just over a third of children looked after had experienced high instability.

Looking at the data for separate areas, around 10% of children had several placements in the year, and 10% moved school mid-year – there was some correlation between these two groups, as one would expect. 57% of children had at least one change of SW, and 10% had three or more changes of worker. The proportion of children whose SW changes varied a lot between different LAs, from 6% to 77%, which the researchers think may be an artefact of differing data quality. They see a possible link between change of SW and change of placement or of school, though are cautious about making too much of this connexion.

The researchers are planning to develop this analysis and data collection further in 2018, looking particularly at stability over a longer time period.

There is a useful technical report, which also presents data on placement and school moves by LA. Managers may not routinely be looking at the data on children with two placements in the year (as opposed to three) or school moves, so this is a helpful introduction to local level data.

We recommend that individual LAs look at carrying out this piece of work themselves, and considering reporting regularly on indicators linked to this. LA staff usually have an excellent understanding of the effect of multiple placement moves on children , or on the breakdown of long-term placements. They may have less oversight of children who move placement once in the year so do not necessarily fall into the standard placement stability measures. They may also not routinely be reviewing school and placement changes. But they do hold all this information, and as corporate parents have a responsibility to know about these important changes in children’s lives. We think also that monitoring these more in-depth measures of stability over time will enable managers to make some predictions about children who at be at risk (for instance, of going missing, not attending school, or other risky behaviour), and look at how services can support those children before problems become unmanageable.

Projects like this may be difficult to fit into data teams’ routine work – please do get in touch if you’d like to talk about we could support you with this.

Published by the Children’s Commissioner, April 2017

Children’s Commissioner – Stability Index: Initial findings and Technical Report

Outcomes for children looked after by LAs: 31 March 2016

The national report provides a useful overview of the changes to attainment and attendance data, and highlights some of the differences between the attainment of all children, children looked after and children in need. As expected, nationally children looked after attain much less well than all children, but it may surprise some that they generally attain slightly better than children in need. This may indicate an additional level of stability in the lives of children looked after, at least those looked after long-term, or be linked to effective interventions and use of the Pupil Premium. It is also interesting that the gap between the attainment of all children and children looked after is less for children with a statement of SEN / Education, Health and Care Plan.

There is an additional short report on the attainment of children who ceased to be looked after because an adoption order, special guardianship order or child arrangements order (formerly a residence order).

Published 23 March 2017, updated 11 May 2017.

DfE statistics – Outcomes for Children Looked after