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Education

How many people did Kids Company help?

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Camila Batmangeildjh, formerly of Kid’s Company: Charity lived hand to mouth

Camila Batmangeildjh, formerly of Kid’s Company: Charity lived
hand to mouth

THE NOW-DEFUNCT charity claimed to reach 36,000 people in London, Bristol and Liverpool.

And if you look at Kids Company’s 2011 annual report, you’ll find the same claim there, and in the reports for 2012 and 2013.

But over the same period the charity claimed that demand for its services was increasing, and accounts show frontline expenditure was rising.

So either the 36,000 figure for earlier years was too high, the 36,000 figure for later years was too low, or there was a dramatic rise in the cost of helping the charity’s clients.

It’s also not clear who was being helped. While the charity’s annual reports say the 36,000 were “children, young people and vulnerable adults”, it’s been reported that the number may also include school staff.

The charity’s own annual reports for 2011, 2012 and 2013 each said that demand for services was rising.

In each year, they show Kids Company hiring more staff and spending more on frontline services.

And in each year the number of people helped is listed as 36,000.

From 2011 to 2013, the wage bill at Kids Company rose from a bit over £7 million to almost £12 million. The average number of employees rose by 166 people (full-time equivalent).

It seems unlikely that there’d be no increase in the number of clients served at the same time as rising demand, a £7.4m increase in spending on charitable activities, and 166 more workers.

The charity was still using the 36,000 figure in the days before its demise. The 2013 report was the last published.

Even assuming that the 36,000 figure is accurate, it’s not immediately clear who the 36,000 people helped were and where they might be found.

The 2013 annual report said that ‘Kids Company currently supports some 36,000 children, young people and vulnerable adults’.

However, the Spectator reports that this might not quite be a full accounting. It quotes an email sent to Miles Goslett which said that: ‘When we refer to clients they include children, young people, young adults with special needs, carers, i.e. foster parents or parents who predominantly have mental health difficulties, and school staff’.

In addition to this, Kids Company itself was not consistent in how it described the figure, sometimes saying the 36,000 were ‘vulnerable children across London’, and sometimes saying they were children, young people and families spread across London, Bristol and Liverpool.

Kids Company policy was ‘not to turn away any child in need’.

In the context of a paragraph outlining how a combination of cuts to government services and lower incomes had pushed children and young people towards poverty, it is hard to square this with no increase in total users.

The section of their 2013 Summary Information Return in full: ‘In 2013, the continued effect of the recession and local authorities’ pursuit to comply with the government public spending cuts have led to significant cuts in their provision of frontline youth and children’s services. These frontline services are essential for most children and young people, particularly the vulnerable, to survive and become resilient. The cumulative impact of the rise in cost of living, cuts to services and reduction in household income have continued to push children and young people towards poverty.

‘Total income raised in the year was £23.1m, representing growth of 14% compared to the previous 12 months. Service provision has grown in line with demand for services, as Kids Company policy is not to turn away any child in need. 2013 saw continued increase in demand for Kids Company services, leading to a 23% increase in expenditure on frontline service delivery. Although the charity has grown rapidly it has kept overhead costs to a minimum.’

Since the Charity’s demise a number of stories have appeared in the national press and on television that appear to highlight allegedly inadequate financial controls.

The Charity’s onetime Chief Executive, Carmila Batmangeilidjh has claimed that the charity’s collapse is the fault of the government, civil servants, and malicious coverage in the media. She has not explained why the charity breached the terms of a £3m bailout from the government which led to the money’s withdrawal.

In addition, it has not been made clear precisely why the charity failed to build up reserves when, according to its own reports cited above, the number of children in claimed to have helped had not risen even when its income had.

Herald Deputy Editor Jon Coles writes: Back in 2000, I was working for a recruitment agency’s litigation department. Kids Company had recruited using the agency but not paid. From memory, the sum involved was around £8,500.

My employers had sued, got judgement, I decided to send in what was then called the Sheriff to get the money. The Sheriff’s man rang me to say he had been given a tale of woe by the charity’s boss about how broke they were and left empty-handed. What did I want to do?

I usually dealt with debt write offs on a Friday and this was a Thursday. I told the Sheriff I would deal with it in the morning.

Sitting at home at 10:30pm, Newsnight came on BBC2. Imagine my surprise when Camila Batmanghelidjh appeared to announce how delighted she was that so much funding was coming in to the charity. Massive funding had been received and the future, according to Ms Batmanghelidjh was indeed bright.

I rang the Sheriff in the morning, told him to go back and serve a statutory demand threatening to wind up the charity if they did not pay.

Within a matter of hours, we had cleared funds in for the full amount plus costs and interest.

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Education

£18m to support children and young people with additional learning needs

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NEW funding to support children and young people with Additional Learning Needs has been announced by Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and Welsh Language.

£18m will be made available to provide extra support for children and young people with ALN who’ve been affected by the pandemic and to help educational settings as learners move to the new ALN system from this month.

£10m of the funding will be used to support learners with ALN affected by the pandemic and to improve their wellbeing. During the pandemic, many disabled children and young people, including learners with ALN, continue to experience a negative impact on their mental health and difficulties accessing education.

The funding will add to existing support for ALN learners, such as intensive learning support and speech and language therapy. The funding can also be used to provide extra resources to target the impacts of the pandemic, such as mental health support and tailored support to help with attendance.

£8m will be allocated to schools, nurseries, local authorities and Pupil Referral Units to move learners from the old Special Educational Needs (SEN) system to the new ALN system, as the roll-out of the Additional Learning Needs Act continues.

The new ALN system, being rolled out over three years, will ensure children and young people with ALN are identified quickly and their needs are met. The Act makes provision for new individual development plans, designed to put the views of learners at the heart of the decision-making process, alongside those of their parents or carers.

Minister for Education and Welsh Language Jeremy Miles said:

“We are determined to deliver a fully inclusive education system in Wales – a system where additional needs are identified early and addressed quickly, and where all children and young people are supported to thrive in their education.

“Schools and nurseries are already doing a fantastic job of supporting their learners, but we know they need more resources to do this. That’s why I’m announcing this additional investment to support learners to overcome the effects of the pandemic and prevent the entrenchment of inequalities on their education, employment opportunities, their health and wellbeing.”

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Education

Over £100m of new funding will help make schools and colleges Covid-secure

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Schools and colleges to receive additional funding

SCHOOLS and colleges will receive £103 million in Welsh Government funding, as learners return for the January term.

£50m will be provided via local authorities through the Sustainable Communities for Learning programme. The funding will help schools carry out capital repair and improvement work, with a focus on health and safety measures, such as improving ventilation. The funding will also be used to support decarbonisation.

£45m of revenue funding will also help support school budgets, assisting schools as they continue to deal with the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and to prepare for the requirements of the new curriculum.

An additional £8m will be provided to further education colleges, to ensure learning can continue safely and ensure the most disadvantaged learners are not further impacted by the pandemic.

Jeremy Miles, the Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, said:

“I know schools and colleges have faced a very difficult time and everyone across the workforce has worked incredibly hard to meet the challenges of the pandemic. This funding will further support our schools and colleges to keep settings as Covid-secure as possible.

“While we want to support the sector in recovering from the pandemic, we also have to make sure we continue to plan for the future, and help all education settings across Wales fulfil our collective goals of making Wales a net-zero nation.

“The funding announced today will help us to ensure sustainability across the sector – be that the environmental sustainability achieved through decarbonisation, or sustainability in provision.”

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Education

Union calls for ‘immediate action’ to keep schools open in January

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A TEACHERS’ union is calling on the Welsh Government to “take urgent action” to reduce the potential risk of further disruption to education as a result of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The surge of Covid cases in Wales, driven by the spread of the Omicron variant, is expected to cause significant staff absence issues when schools return next week.

Some schools need to start planning for pupils to return to online learning, Wales’ first minister said last week.

Mark Drakeford said teacher and staff illness will mean some pupils returning to home learning, but decisions would be made by individual councils, rather than the Welsh government.

The NASUWT union said its members “desperately want to be able to provide face-to-face teaching for all children and young people in the next academic term without further problems caused by the pandemic.”

While NAHT Cymru Director Laura Doel said: “The availability of staff is the biggest threat to education in January. Without the workforce fit and well, learners cannot go back to the classroom.”

NAHT Cymru Director: Laura Doel (Pic: BBC Wales)

The Welsh Conservatives want the government in Wales to “follow in the footsteps” of their English counterparts and invite “an army of ex-teachers to return to classrooms” in a bid to ease any potential pressure.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said teachers have been “on the frontline throughout the pandemic to support pupils and students and provide them with the best education possible.”

“However, the rising number of cases of the Omicron variant could cause significant disruption in the next academic term with many teachers being forced to self-isolate.

“The Welsh Government must take immediate action to ensure that schools can continue to operate safely and provide high quality education.

“This is particularly important to protect disadvantaged and vulnerable children and young people who have often been affected most by the pandemic.”

The NASUWT is urging the Welsh Government to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission by providing government-funded air cleaning units to every school and college that needs these devices.

They are also calling on the Welsh Government to support household close contacts to self-isolate to reduce the risk of transmission and wider disruption within schools.

The union wants the government to commit to providing schools with more resources to enable on-site Covid testing.

The NASUWT has also called for improved financial support for schools and colleges to help with the cost of supply staff to cover for Covid-related absence.

Neil Butler, NASUWT National Official for Wales, said: “Teachers, pupils and students, and parents will be concerned about the potential risk of further disruption to schools caused by the Omicron variant.

“The Welsh Government must do everything it can to prevent schools from experiencing significant staffing problems next term and further damage to the education of children and young people.”
Staff availability, biggest threat to education.
NAHT Cymru Director Laura Doel said: “The availability of staff is the biggest threat to education in January.”

“Without the workforce fit and well, learners cannot go back to the classroom.”

“If LFTs for close contacts need to be taken for 7 days there must be a supply available for schools.”

“If track and trace are supposed to support the system we must ensure they have the capacity to do so and if parents are to understand what is required of them, there must be clear communication.”

“All of these elements need to be up and running next week to ensure the return to school is the success we want it to be.”

“The pressure on TTP system is an ongoing concern and therefore we maintain that classes should be designated as contact groups for testing purposes to bring consistency across all Local Authority areas and relieve the added pressure to trace close contacts, particularly in primary schools which is extremely difficult.”

“Given that staff availability has been a key area of concerns for months, NAHT Cymru believes prioritising the workforce for booster vaccinations was an opportunity missed.”

“It is too early to tell whether the new measures announced will be enough to keep schools open in January but we welcome the reintroduction of staggered session times and the planning days that will help schools manage their local situations.”

“Remote learning will remain a last resort, with staff absence and risk levels being the determining factors, but be assured that school leaders remain committed to doing all they can to support their learners and their families.”

The Welsh Conservative shadow education minister Laura Anne Jones MS said those who are recently retired, or trained as a teacher and moved career, should be asked to consider whether they can find even a day a week for the spring term to help protect face-to-face education.

She said: “Teachers have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic, doing an inspirational job to support their pupils and communities in the face of adversity.”

“However, the disruption to school life and extended periods at home mean pupils’ education has inevitably suffered, particularly for those from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

“With cases of Omicron increasing across the country we must make sure schools and colleges have the teachers available to remain open for face-to-face education.”

“We have to be prepared for the new term ahead, otherwise our children will again feel the brunt. A ‘call to arms’ such as we’ve seen from Nadhim Zahawi and the Conservatives is a great idea and one we should replicate in Wales.”

“I hope the Labour Government gets such a scheme up and running so we can increase support in the classroom and minimise disruption to our children’s education.”

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