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Focus of spending must be balanced

It's official: the UK spends more money on child welfare and education than the average market economy. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report out last week, we spend just over 90,000 per child from birth to 18 compared to an OECD average among 30 member countries of just under 80,000.

Resilience prevails amid Osborne's bleak choices

Like a piercing, bitter English winter, Chancellor George Osbourne's "autumn statement" was eye-wateringly harsh. It is, without doubt, children and young people growing up in the most deprived households who are being asked to bear the brunt.

We must fight for young people's future

The political debate is dominated by the economy. But while the battle rages in Westminster about whether the financial cuts are necessary or proportionate, there is general agreement that they have had a severe impact on young people, women and children.

Expect confusion from an unclear admissions code

When I worked in local authorities, many parents were - rightly - concerned about whether the school their children attended was any good. And just about every parent became passionate about getting their children into the school they wanted.

Shhh... Every Child Matters lives on

Watch out, the language police are about. An internal Department for Education memo lists 30 terms the government wants consigned to history, and the words that should be used in their place. Many relate directly to children's services.

Welfare officers provide vital defence

Education welfare officers (who go by the glorious acronym of EWOs) provide a lifeline to vulnerable schoolchildren, and there are calls this week for their contribution to be properly recognised.

Policy into practice - Extracurricular activities

The issue: Demonstrating soft skills, such as decision making, relationship building, problem solving and teamwork, can really help to boost a young person's employment prospects. Former Health Secretary Alan Milburn's recent report into social mobility says that in order to help narrow the attainment gap between young people from different social backgrounds, schools should provide a range of extracurricular activities.

Outstanding challenge for Ofsted

Ofsted-bashing has been on the rise for several months. Cries of exasperation over the way the children's services inspectorate goes about its business have come in fits and starts from all quarters.

Policy into practice - Access to university

The issue: Thousands of young people will start university over the next few weeks. But the stark reality is that young people with parents in professional positions are three times more likely to go to university than those whose parents are on low incomes.

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