4 years ago



Editorial Editorial

Editorial Editorial Continued… This issue is also touched on in an article by Lord Hodgson, the author of the recent review of the Charities Act 2006. He states that resolving the debate about what defines a charity will be crucial to retaining public confidence in the sector. Lord Hodgson also looks at other key elements of the modern legal framework that the sector operates in, including the public benefit test, introduction of Charitable Incorporated Organisations, role of trustees and operation of the Charity Tribunal. “ Underlying many recent criticisms of the sector is a belief, primarily rooted at each end of the political spectrum, that the changing economic ecosystem has led to an evolutionary divergence in the charity species ” Our remaining opinion pieces all focus on the ecosystems lived in by children, young people and families. Victoria Hull, Head of Policy, Projects and Participation at The Who Cares? Trust, looks at three relatively new additions to the education support system for looked after children: the Pupil Premium, the 16-19 Bursary and changes to tuition fee arrangements. All three policies share two things in common: despite additional funding, leaving implementation down to local bodies (be that schools, colleges or universities) has led to a huge variety of practice and confusion on the ground. This risk of a postcode lottery is something that all advocates of localism (which, rhetorically at least, includes all three major parties) need to address. The challenge of supporting children in a new environment with unclear boundaries and responsibilities applies equally to the web. Whereas in the physical world child and adult only spaces are usually readily identifiable and monitored, online those of different age groups mix much more fluidly. Recently this issue has been at the top of the political agenda with controversy surrounding the introduction of optout adult content filters by the major internet providers. At the heart of the matter is a question about who is responsible for protecting children online: parents, government, ISPs or websites? The answer, according to John Carr from the Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety, is that everyone has a role to play. Unfortunately though, some partners aren’t pulling their weight. Looking after children in a world dominated by adults is also the subject of an article by David Kingman of the Intergenerational Foundation. We are now living in what has been dubbed ‘the Age of Ageing’. The next 25 years are forecast to see a dramatic increase in the size of the UK’s pensioner population as the post-war baby boomers retire. With politicians reluctant to inflict cuts on the demographic most likely to vote, there is a danger that ageing threatens to disrupt the carefully balanced sense of equilibrium and fairness which has traditionally underpinned our welfare state. Intergenerational justice, this time of the environmental variety, is likewise tackled by Zoe Conn of the UK Youth Climate. Whereas her article focusses on ensuring that the earth is worth living in for future generations, our other environmental piece urges us to teach our children how to enjoy nature today. Children’s author Nicola Davies makes a powerful case for the social, emotional and physical benefits of the wild. We also have our regular member profile. This quarter we hear about the work of NatCen: a new participant in the Children England membership ecosystem. We hope that you enjoy this winter edition of Outlook. As always your comments and suggestions are very welcome 4 Outlook Issue 58 • Winter 14

NatCen Jane O’Brien, Director of Children and Young People – NatCen Profile The Children and Young People team is one of the six research teams (Income and Work, Health and Wellbeing, Crime and Justice, Society and Social Change and ScotCen) at NatCen Social Research – the UK’s largest not for profit research organisation. With 16 members the team is made up of specialist researchers with backgrounds in social work, teaching, psychology, local government, academia, children’s charities and special needs. The team has a good mixture of backgrounds but all of us are trained researchers able to turn our hand to anything from small scale focus groups to national evaluations. Face to face interviews, online and postal surveys, in depth interviews, data analysis, randomised control trials and mixed method evaluations are the tools of our trade. No day is the same for the team – it can vary from desk based analysis of the latest research on bullying to testing primary and secondary pupils’ literacy, interviewing parents of young children, testing toddlers’ development and cognitive function, focus groups with unemployed teenagers to surveying head teachers about school dinners. At the moment the team is carrying out a number of national Department for Education evaluations including the Study of Early Education and Development (SSED) and Children’s Centres in England. They are also evaluating work programmes for at risk young people and initiatives to help separated and separating families for the Department for Work and Pensions. Last year we won prestigious Economic and Social Research Council funding to research fatherhood. So much is known about women, their role in the family and their working lives and so little about men. We have done the first research into men in the modern family to see what is really happening and to shake up some of the myths around men, their role in the family and their relationships with their children – whether living with them or not. We built a website and started up a network of policy makers, campaigners and academics interested in this new area. “ Face to face interviews, online and postal surveys, in depth interviews, data analysis, randomised control trials and mixed method evaluations are the tools of our trade ” SEED is an exciting project following the lives of children and their families from 2 until 7 years old. This is the biggest and most important longitudinal study of young children and how their background and early care and education affects them since the 1990s. We are looking at the effect of starting education at 2 for children from different backgrounds but especially disadvantaged children to see what really affects how they get on at school. The study involves specialist cognitive and development testing of young children – normally only done by educational psychologists. Because of our academic backgrounds and collaborators, we are the only research agency doing this. We also use internationally recognised tests to measure parenting, home learning environment and assess nursery and childcare settings. Family breakdown, separated parents and child maintenance is another key area and is of huge interest to government because of its cost. This means that having proper insight into the effects of family breakdown and new welfare policies on children, parents and family income is vital. As members of the Education Endowment Foundation’s evaluation panel the team are working in over 150 schools evaluating literacy and numeracy interventions designed to help disadvantaged children. Carrying out scientifically rigorous research to test whether teaching young children a stringed instrument actually helps them in maths and English is fascinating. Finding out what works helps schools spend their funds effectively and not waste time and energy on activities that don’t work Find out more about our work at /categories/children-young-people Outlook Issue 58 • Winter 14 5

Local charity & community group sustainability report 2015
The Sparrow
Manifesto final - The Wheel