Select Committee on Children, Schools and Families Second Report

1  Preface

1. On 28 June 2007 the Department for Education and Skills was divided into the Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) and the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills. According to the DCSF itself, the focus of the new Department is to secure "integrated children's services and educational excellence".[1] On the day on which the new Department was created, the Prime Minister issued a Written Ministerial Statement, in which he said that the aim of these Machinery of Government changes was to "sharpen the focus of central Government on the new and very different challenges that Britain will face in the years ahead".[2] He added that "In particular the changes seek to strengthen the Government's support for children, young people and families through these challenges, and to ensure that Britain is equipped to seize the new opportunities of the global economy."[3]

2. In December 2007, the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Rt Hon Ed Balls MP, published a Children's Plan,[4] setting out the Government's ambitions "for improving children and young people's lives over the next decade and how we intend to achieve them."[5] The Plan puts forward proposals on a large number of diverse issues, ranging from improved health provisions and play facilities to reducing child poverty, as well as aims for improving levels of educational attainment.

3. The establishment of the new Department has led in turn to the formation of a new Committee to enable the House of Commons to scrutinise its work. We have already begun work on a number of inquiries across the range of the Department's remit, but, given that this is a new department which from the outset has laid out its overall aims for the coming years, we considered it important to look at some of the general issues raised by the creation of the Department and the way in which it is setting about its work. Our predecessors on the Education and Skills Committee took evidence each year from the Secretary of State and the Permanent Secretary, primarily on expenditure matters, but also taking the opportunity to discuss issues relating to the work of the Department more widely. It seemed sensible for us to continue that practice, and we therefore took evidence from the Secretary of State on the reasoning behind the new Department and the contents of the Children's Plan. We shall continue this wider scrutiny of the work of the Department in evidence on the 2008 departmental annual report in the summer.

1 Back

2   HC Deb, 28 June 2007, cols 36-37WS Back

3   ibid Back

4   DCSF, The Children's Plan: Building brighter futures, Cm7280, 11 December 2007. Back

5   ibid, p.15. Back

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