Researching Reform’s Freedom Of Information request asking the government what had happened to all of its child welfare consultations has finally been answered, and the reply is interesting.
Having failed to address the request within the set period, it looked as if the government was attempting to ignore the question, which asked for an update on several of its long standing child focused consultations. Researching Reform wrote to the government asking for an internal review into the failure to reply to our request. In a not altogether unsurprising move, The Department For Education then blocked the internal review with a hasty response:
Dear Natasha Phillips
Thank you for your letter requesting information on a number of government
With regards to the consultation on Mandatory Reporting Of Child Abuse:
The consultation sought views on the advisability, risk, nature and scope
of a mandatory duty to report child abuse and neglect and an alternative
duty focused on taking appropriate action, as well as the effects of
embedding current Government reforms. The Government has committed to
laying a report before Parliament on the outcome of the consultation.
Submissions are being considered and a Government response will be
published in due course.
The consultation on Vulnerable Witnesses Practice Direction: This
information is not held by the Department for Education and suggest that
you contact the Ministry of Justice (MOJ).
We published two documents on 1 November 2017 in response to the
consultation on the Care Of Unaccompanied and Trafficked Children. These
documents can be found at:
Consultation on National Fostering Stocktake: A summary of the call for
evidence for the National Fostering Stocktake will be published alongside
the reviewers’ final report in the New Year.
Consultation Analysing Family Circumstances and Education: The Department
will publish a response in due course.
Your correspondence has been allocated reference number 2017-0049974. If
you need to respond to us, please visit:
https://www.education.gov.uk/contactus and quote your reference number.
Whilst we’re told that one consultation has published its findings (the one focusing on child trafficking), we’re not actually given any firm dates for the others. The closest we get to a date is in relation to the consultation looking at the state of the Foster Care sector in England, which we’re told will publish its findings in early 2018. We chose that announcement as the headline for our post as it’s arguably the most interesting piece of news in the reply.
And the author of this letter, Paul Lucas, though he doesn’t state his role within the Department For Education, seems to be a member of the Education Funding Agency, which produces reports like this one looking at national funding formulas for schools. Whether it’s a sign of the times, the way things are done at the DfE, or an indication of the government’s knee jerk reaction to the threat of an internal review, Mr Lucas is an odd choice of author for this kind of letter.
We’ll keep you posted on these consultations.