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A very tall order with a short deadline

Across the country, newly formed local teams are embarking on a colossal exercise. In every area, local authorities have until next month to quantify how many troubled families live in each area and set out how they are going to help them turn their lives around.

Sure Start is essential for vulnerable families

I have been a keen supporter of Sure Start from the start. It seemed obvious to me from what I saw in Sure Start centres that the most disadvantaged children would not only get a better start in life, but that this would have a lasting beneficial impact.

Two-year-old places are not deliverable

We all know the benefits of early education. The government's desire to extend the free entitlement to more two-year-olds is therefore laudable, but I'm not sure it's currently deliverable.

End service barriers to give families a boost

There have been numerous government-sponsored reviews over the past few months: Graham Allen on early intervention, Frank Field on social mobility, Dame Clare Tickell on the early years and Eileen Munro on child protection.

Early intervention transcends early years

The national focus on early intervention has put a spotlight on the early years. But with many conflating the two ideas, we run the risk of neglecting the need to develop a preventative mindset in our work with school-age children.

Never mind the inspectorate, recruit the right inspectors

On the face of it, the education select committee's call to split Ofsted into two separate inspectorates for education and children's care would represent a further step away from services centred on the needs of the whole child. It is a trend played out in several areas through the disappearance of children's trust arrangements and local authority children's services departments.

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