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Youth employment is key to revival

The outstandingly depressing budget of 2009 has left children's services in limbo, braced for the tightest of public spending squeezes and a likely change of government.

Editorial: Inherent dangers lurk in staying safe plan

With the publication of the Staying Safe Action Plan last week, the government has been at pains not to be seen to wrap children up in cotton wool. In presentation terms, the document's front cover depicts children happily participating in watersports, climbing and running. Meanwhile, the Department for Children, Schools and Families' press notice on the safety plan leads heavily on the proposal to encourage teachers to take pupils on outdoor school trips by providing advice and diminishing bureaucracy.

Commissioner for Wales is up to the challenge

It was an "exceedingly drawn-out" appointments process, according to one Welsh politician. But Keith Towler came through the interviews, both with young people and politicians, to secure the position of children's commissioner for Wales, just under a year after the untimely death of his predecessor Peter Clarke.

Education is what they need to kick the drugs

Teenagers' temptation to experiment with drugs is on the rise. According to the Department of Health, back in 1998, 29 per cent of 15-year-old boys and 1.5 per cent of 11-year-olds were found to have used drugs over the course of the year. Fast-forward to 2005 (the department's latest available figures) and those numbers swell to 34 per cent and six per cent respectively.

Early help may fall foul of school staff cuts

So here we are, racing headlong towards another election, paying attention to the different ideas being floated in the manifestos, while having a very strong suspicion as to what the result will be.

Show some respect for state schools

The drama over education reform continued at last week's Labour Party conference. Shadow education secretary Ed Balls naturally joined in, describing the coalition government's plans for free schools as "the most socially divisive education experiment for 60 years".

Class and race merit more attention

The underachievement of white working-class children has justifiably become a cause for national concern. Plenty of schools are making great strides to tackle the issue. Nevertheless, it has led to declarations, most recently from Communities Secretary John Denham, that social class is the most significant factor in determining school achievement rather than ethnicity.

Youth unemployment: the solutions exist

We have seen the headlines screaming at us that one in five young people are jobless, that youth unemployment has hit a "record high" and that the problem is now a "national crisis".

Parents know best -- but only some of the time

Since the 1978 Warnock Report on special educational needs (SEN), there has been a vast amount of legislation, regulation and guidance, with amendment piled on amendment to try to make the creaking system work better.

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