Children & Social Work Bill

Written evidence submitted by Dr F H Mikdadi (CSWB 72)

Submission to the Public Bill Committee Scrutinising Children and Social Work Bill

1. I have spent forty five years in education in the following capacities: Teacher (both primary and secondary), head of English department, head of faculty, senior leader, higher education lecturer, university post graduate lecturer, advisory headteacher, LEA secondary adviser, secondary advisory team leader, school development adviser, OfSTED lead and team inspector (primary, secondary, special educational needs and initial teacher training), governor and chair of governors in secondary schools/academies.

2. I have worked as an Independent consultant since 2002 with a diversity of specialisms: Teaching and learning, leadership impact on enhancing students’ standards, learning trainer for medical staff, improving students’ progress, middle leadership impact on teaching and learning through monitoring and support, adviser to PhD students on writing theses (education and English literature).

3. Since 2012 I have supported new academies across all areas of work both at primary and secondary phases. During 2014-2015, I led a large team of researchers working on compiling an extensive report on the best continuing professional development practice in ten countries commissioned by Saudi Arabia. Over five years from 2007 to 2012, I was heavily involved in setting up the Dubai school inspection system and taking part in implementing the resulting new Framework.

4. I am a published author of novels, poetry anthologies, short stories, bibliographies, educational and current affairs articles and other works.

5. I have carefully read the Children and Social Work Bill . I have also scrutinised related document s available. I was prompted to m ake this submission because I fe lt that there were some omissions in terms of the care for , and education of , specific groups of children. I also felt that there is an apparent formulaic approach implying that one model fits all. The paragraphs following give my two suggested areas for improvement.

6. There are two omissions in the 'corporate parenting principles' (Part 1, Chapter 1, Section 1) . The first omission is the lack of focus on the importance of independent learning skills with its associated ability to engage in critical thinking. It is imperative that children are trained in independent thinking skills. In order for them to be prepared for the desirable 'independence' mentioned in the last point (g) , they need to be able to engage in critical thinking skills through learning dialogues as a matter of routine. Furthermore, each child needs to acquire ind ependent learning skills so that s/he eve ntually becomes lifelong learners with the skills to learn and be flexible .

7. The second omission is the lack of a named person whose responsibility will be to mentor and monitor each child. Whereas it is perfectly understandable that the Act refers to the Local Authority as if it were in loco parentis, in the broader scheme of things, organisationally the Local Authority and related social services do not and cannot, in practical terms, act as parents. However, educational research (as well as anecdotal evidence from practising teachers), clearly shows that, for good or ill, the biggest influence on a child's life is his/her parent / are her/his parents (where there are two parents at home). It is imperative that each individual child has a parent figure in his/her life. Ideally, this would be the foster parent or the adopting parent. However, the child needs such a significant figure when the s/he is at school. Therefore, it would be helpful to have a requirement of every school to select a mentor for each individual child. Where practical, this mentor would be there for the child all through her/his school life. There is a great deal of research that shows that a child's prospects are closely linked to their home circumstances and to their link to a significant adult when not at home.

8. There is a requirement to ensure that "advice and information be made available to" the person(s) acting in loco parentis (Part 1, Chapter 1, Section 4 ) . This needs to be strengthened into a requirement to educate and train these persons in how to support their child( ren)'s learning. Many 'parents' fail not because they are unkind or indifferent. They fail in their support of their children's learning because they do not have the necessary skills or because they fear exercising undue pressure on their charges.

9. Local Authorities, schools and academies should be required to run parenting classes aimed at teaching parents and other adults in charge of each child what to do to promote the child’s learning. Such a programme would include teaching parents and other adults the importance of creating a secure, loving, warm and well-resourced learning environment at home, ensuring that the child has a clearly understood routine, eats well, sleeps well, has a healthy programme of recreation and is listened to regularly during daily challenging and intelligent dialogues with the adults around him/her.

January 2017


Prepared 11th January 2017