Every Child Matters

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Investigate and critically evaluate and reflect upon the subject responsibility for providing for and achieving the five outcomes of ‘Every Child Matters’

Recent Government strategies including the green paper ‘Every Child Matters’ (ECM) published in 2003 and the subsequent Children Act passed in 2004, have undoubtedly sought to enhance the support for children perceived to be vulnerable and in need (Medcalf et al 2006). The ECM agenda is one of the many legislative documents concerned in the implementation of the Children Act 2004. This document came in response to the public inquiry into the murder of Victoria Climbie, a child who suffered an unjustifiable death in the hands of the people who were meant to show her the love and attention that every child deserves, but yet they became the cause for her tragic death (Cheminais 2007). This enquiry therefore called for a radical change in the transform of children’s services. It became essential that services to children would play a role in the protection of children from harm and will optimize the well- being, life chances and potential for all children as a means of providing them with a better start in life (DfES 2004). The passing of the Children’s Act and the publication of Every Child Matters: Change for children (DfES 2004) for the first time provided the legislative and policy structure for developing more effective and accessible services focused around the needs of children, young people and families, as a means of maximising opportunity and minimising risk (Weare 2007). As noted, this agenda did not only focus on the needs of all children and young people but also the needs of those who care for them. However, one would have to highlight the matter in which, this current legislation only took effect in 2004 yet how many children and families have passed through and possibly slipped through the system beforehand (Oliver 2008). Therefore, it is essential to suggest that the system of education, previous to the implementation of such acts, failed to meet the needs of children and families, and have neglected their duty and responsibility to education (Wedell 2008). As a result of this radical change in policy, the reshaping of children’s services targeted schools as an environment which was already available to children. As stated by DfES (2006), schools are well positioned to take an active role in implementing the new legislation and every teacher, paraprofessional and education support services will become primary agents in implementing this agenda. Furthermore, schools have the opportunities to help improve the life chances of all children and young people and have the ability to overcome obstacles faced by many children. As a result of this, it was suggested that schools take a more personalised approach to learning within which, teachers were required to identify children’s needs and modify their planning in order to meet these needs (DfES 2004). As a result of the ECM agenda, five outcomes essential to the development of children were suggested. These include, being healthy, staying safe, enjoying and achieving, making a positive contribution and achieveing economic well being (Cheminais 2007). As a result, schools were required to create opportunities within and beyond the current curriculum in which these outcomes could be reached and furthermore, schools were encouraged to enhance and develop the already effective provision (Reid 2005). However, it is suggested that consequently, the current government legislation and initiatives have generated professional debate amongst teachers in terms of what new policy directives will mean for their practice (Szwed 2007). It is also illustrated that, surely if schools are to become the ‘primary agents’ in implementing change, then clearly more attention needs to be paid to processes involved in introducing new policy arrangements as practice (Thomas & O’Hanlon 2007). Subsequently, there is a greater demand for...
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