Schools Given Almost Unlimited Rights To Search Students.

Researching Reform

Welcome to another week.

The government is giving schools almost unfettered rights to search school pupils without consent, after it updated guidelines last week to reflect the move.

The changes allow school staff to search without consent for “any item banned by the school rules which has been identified in the rules as an item which may be searched for.” We tried to find this guidance online, but could not spot it.

The guidance was exposed in a Schools Week article on 19th January, which focused on the issue of energy soft drinks as a child protection issue, after schools around the country had imposed bans on the drinks on school property, with some searching students’ bags in order to enforce the policy.

The article comes after a public health nutritionist, government behaviour tsar and celebrity chef expressed concerns about the way these drinks affect children’s behaviour and health, and have…

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Runaway train, never going back

suesspiciousminds

The British Association of Social Workers, BASW, commissioned an independent report to look at adoption. The report has just been published.

There’s a summary piece at the Guardian about it

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jan/18/adoption-has-become-runaway-train-social-workers-cannot-stop

In summary of the summary, concerns about a lack of ethics and human rights approach, concerns that adoption has been politically pushed and dominates thinking, concerns about lack of support for families and adopters, concerns that there’s rigidity in thinking about contact (and the report compares the English approach of an assumption of no direct contact with Northern Ireland where the assumption is that there should be direct contact four to six times per year) and critically that there’s not enough attention being paid to poverty (and austerity) being the driving force behind children being removed from families.

The impact of austerity was raised by all respondents to different extents but was a particular
concern for social workers. Cuts…

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Precedent, or just a law report?

dbfamilylaw

20170722_161644Common law and law reports

The prompt for this article came from the fact that increasing numbers of judgements are being published by BAILII which can be published; but some of them cannot be cited in court. That is not to blame BAILII: they perform a brilliant public service in making so many judgments available online. They are not to know – if they are sent a judgement by a judge it is likely to be published – whether it can be cited or not; and therefore whether (perhaps) it should be published. (I have dealt with this before.)

The problem is compounded by the variety of set of family reports. Rather than – as with eg Chancery, Commercial, QB and so on – family law have three sets of reports: one for the Family Division (High Court judges), one for Family Court with a High Court judge…

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New FOI Request: Damages Awarded To Families Because Of Council Failings

Researching Reform

As the government appears to be busy with Brexit and other things, we thought it would be good to remind it that child welfare matters aren’t going away any time soon. Our latest Freedom Of Information Request asks for a breakdown of damages awarded to families, by council. 

After coming across this archived post we wrote in 2012 predicting a surge in damages being paid out to families failed by local authorities, we decided to find out if these kinds of awards were on the rise. The request though, is unlikely to offer a definitive answer.

We already know that local authorities’ insurance companies have a vested interest in making complaints go away. The thinking is that the more complaints make it through, the more damages the council may have to pay, which effectively means the more money insurance companies have to shell out. As a result, insurance companies have…

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