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An inspector calls

It was an early start on Day Three of the marathon Children and Adult Services conference in Harrogate this week, but the leaders of people services were still wide awake.  And with good reason. Secretary of State for Children, Ed Balls was first up that morning and got short shrift for his refusal to reduce…

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Barnet or bust?

Much has been said and written about Barnet councils emerging new approach, officially the ‘ Future Shape’ project, better known as ‘Easy Council’.     I have talked to the Chief Executive, Nick Walkley, and the lead Director, Max Wide, about it and I agree with much of their analysis of both the scale of change needed…

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Why Ministers won’t play along with the Cambridge Review

The most eye-catching items in the Cambridge Review of the Primary Curriculum are the proposals that children should not start formal learning until they are six and that testing at 11 should be scrapped. It argues that the early imposition of academic strictures results in permanent alienation from learning. Instead the Cambridge Review argues that…

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‘It’s twitter wot won it’

‘It’s twitter wot won it’ – well , not on its own maybe, but the new social media certainly paid a huge role in the Guardian’s victory over Carter-Ruck and their attempt to gag the newspaper from reporting a parliamentary question about their client, Trafigura. Prominent bloggers tracked down and published the likely question; twitters…

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Democratise the House of Lords

A list of names of potential Tory peers is floating around the web today following a story on the PR Week website.   If the Conservatives win the next election, or perhaps even more significantly (in terms of the Lords role) in the event of a hung parliament in which the Conservatives are the largest party, David Cameron…

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Local Democracy Bill passed

After a marathon third reading debate in the Commons yesterday the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill was passed.  It now goes briefly back to the House of Lords, which should be a formality, and is due to receive Royal Assent before the end of the month.   The Bill includes the new duty…

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The end of the Oil Age?

The peak oil debate is back on the table, with alarm bells ringing about the possibility of oil depletion before 2030. A report released yesterday by the UK Energy Research Centre found that easy-to-access oil is running out and the new reserves will be more difficult and expensive to extract. This debate is not new.…

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ADCS president misjudgement

At the height of the Baby Peter case last year following the Sun Newspaper’s mass petition and vilification of public servant Sharon Shoesmith and her subsequent dismissal by Secretary of State Ed Balls the ADCS remained quiet. So it was with surprise that I learned that, on the eve of Shoesmith’s High Court Case against the…

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Free for all?

The pressure on the Conservatives has been to present a clear vision of themselves to the electorate. George Osborne has done his bit with a brave speech on public spending that he reckons “will make him the most unpopular man in the country”. But not all the Shadow Cabinet has been as clear. In a…

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Education, education, education?

Labour made what many delegates may consider to have been a great start on education at the party’s annual Conference in Brighton. Gordon Brown promised no cuts to the schools budget. Later Ed Balls Secretary of State detailed the party’s balance sheet on children’s services; highlights include the establishment of a sure start children centre in every community, free…

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