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Education

How many people did Kids Company help?

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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

Funding for music education trebled to the tune of £13.5m

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EVERY child will have the opportunity to benefit from music education as part of the Welsh Government’s plans for a national music service, which will help ensure no child misses out due to a lack of means.

As the National Plan for Music Education is published, the Minister for Education has confirmed funding will be trebled, with £13.5m being invested over the next three years.

The plan will make access to music education fairer and more consistent across Wales, with a particular focus on learners from low-income households and those with Additional Learning Needs. Support will be available for children and young people to access and progress with music tuition, with learners from disadvantaged and under-represented groups supported to join music ensembles.

The plan includes a number of key work programmes such as:

A review on music tutors’ terms and conditions, to ensure they are treated equitably and are recognised properly.
A ‘First Experiences’ programme to offer children in primary schools a minimum of half a term of musical instrument taster sessions, delivered by trained and skilled music practitioners.
A ‘Making Music with Others’ initiative, including opportunities for children and young people in secondary schools to gain industry experience through working alongside musicians and creative industries
A new national instrument and equipment library to support access to a resource bank to be shared across Wales.
These programmes will be rolled out from September 2022, supporting schools and settings to give all children and young people from the ages of 3 to 16 the opportunity to learn to play an instrument as well as singing and making music in our schools and our communities.

The National Music Service will operate as a ‘hub’, with the Welsh Local Government Association co-ordinating the Music Service’s programmes with a wide range of organisations. It will help schools and settings in their delivery of the Curriculum for Wales and provide more diverse opportunities for children and young people to experience music outside schools and settings.

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford and the Minister for Education and Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles, visited St Joseph’s Cathedral Primary School in Swansea to see a cluster of primary school children taking part in a ‘Play Along’ session led by Swansea Music Service.

First Minister Mark Drakeford said:

“The establishment of a National Music Service for Wales is an important commitment in our Programme for Government and I’m delighted that we are delivering on this pledge.

“Learning an instrument was a formative part of my upbringing and a lack of money should not be a barrier to any young person who wants to learn to play music. We are fortunate in Wales to have a strong tradition of school, county and national ensembles, and we want to make sure that our children and young people are able to play a full part in these. This funding will support music services in schools and within the community to help nurture our young musical talent.”

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

“Our vision is for all children and young people across Wales, regardless of background, to have the chance to learn to play an instrument. The plan we are publishing today, backed by funding, will help deliver that vision.

“For too long, the chance to learn an instrument and develop musical skills has been for those few whose families and carers who can afford tuition. I want to make sure everyone has the opportunity to access music tuition, and that’s why we’re making this significant investment to deliver a range of activities for our children and young people to learn and experience the joy of music.

“The development of the National Music Service will ensure that we nurture our next generation and continue to produce new talent and showcase Wales to the world.”

WLGA Chief Executive Chris Llewelyn said:

“We are proud to work with the Welsh Government on delivering this vital service to children across Wales. Many families in Wales can’t afford an instrument, and this funding will go a long way to opening doors to children across Wales to have the opportunity of learning an instrument.

“Playing an instrument and reading music is a very important skill for a child, and music brings enormous joy to children. Local authorities believe that children across Wales will have better access to instruments, and this plan will develop many future talented musicians, and support pupils to develop their musical skills.”

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Education

Work starts on new £8.25m primary school for Pembrey

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WORK has started on building a new £8.25million primary school for Pembrey.

The new school building is being constructed on the recreation ground/playing field immediately adjacent to the existing school site on Ashburnham Road.

It will provide high-quality teaching facilities to improve the overall learning experience for learners, as well as benefitting the local community.

The new school will have capacity for 270 primary pupils, 30 nursery pupils and will incorporate a Flying Start facility which is currently located in a mobile classroom on the current school site.

Headteacher Helen Jacob said: “We are looking forward to having our brand-new school building at Pembrey where we can continue to provide quality educational opportunities and experiences for our children.

“Everyone is excited at the prospect of learning in a modern purpose-built school that will be at the heart of the community.”

The project is part of Carmarthenshire County Council’s Modernising Education Programme which aims to give every child in the county access to first class accommodation and facilities.

It is being jointly funded by Welsh Government through its 21st Century Schools initiative.

The new school building has been designed by the council’s own architects and the work is being carried out by local contractor TRJ Ltd. 

The estimated completion date is the autumn term of 2023.

Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services Cllr Glynog Davies said: “I am delighted that building work has started on the new school for the community of Pembrey. Building it on the adjacent recreation ground means that we can reduce disruption as much as possible.

“The council is committed to investing in our children’s futures, and the new school building will provide the very best educational facilities for both pupils and staff and accommodation fit for 21st century teaching and learning.”

Local member Cllr Hugh Shepardson said: “I am delighted that we are making a start on the new Pembrey Primary School. The facility, which I understand will be completed next year, will provide state-of-the-art teaching facilities for our children at Pembrey and will allow our children to be taught in a modern and welcoming environment.

“I am grateful to the Education department’s Modernising Education Programme team and the authority’s Cabinet for their diligence and hard work in making the completion of the new school a reality.”

To date, the Modernising Education Programme has invested more than £300million in Carmarthenshire schools, including the building of 12 new primary schools, two new secondary schools, and 48 major refurbishments and extensions.

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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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