In the news: fresh faces at DfE and Health and Social care

There are few sectors that are as heavily scrutinised, or as heavily regulated, as care and education. Elections can be won or lost on health and schools’ policy, so ministers and governments have to be seen to be ‘doing something’, in these areas.

Education policy is one major example. In 2003, less than 1% of secondary schools were academies. In just 15 years, the number of academies soared to 72% of secondary schools and 35% of all schools1. This is a massive reform to take place in such a short space of time.

Then take social care. There’s the Mental Capacity Act and the Health and Social Care Act 2008, which we’ve written in-depth posts about. But these are just two of the dozens of statutes that affect carers (you can take a look at a comprehensive list on the CQC website).

That’s why who’s in charge of these departments can have such a big impact. And with a new prime minister comes lots of fresh faces in these key offices of state.

Department for Education

The key figures for schools and nurseries are Gavin Williamson, the new Secretary of State for Education and Kemi Badenoch, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families. In their short time in post, neither has laid out detailed plans for reform. However, Badenoch notes on her website that science and technology are of particular interest to her and has recently announced a competition for the best early years app. Technology may be a larger focus in the department moving forward.

Williamson’s main goal will be to implement the PM’s pledge to greatly increase education funding, which should help to relieve pressures in schools and nurseries, particularly with ongoing problems surrounding per-pupil funding and 30 hours of free childcare.

Department Health and Social Care

Health and Social care is one of the few departments to retain most of its top team. Both Secretary of State Matt Hancock and Minister for Social Care Caroline Dinenage remain in post. Both are responsible for the ‘delayed’ social care green paper, which is slated to tackle underfunding in the social care sector.

The key challenge for the department is reform to the social care system, and it’s notable that both key ministers have remained in place – there is unfinished work to be done. Hopefully this continuity heralds imminent proposals on social care reforms. The new PM has promised to tackle social care as a top priority, but many of his predecessors have as well. Any reforms will need to tackle a serious underfunding crisis.

Key points

One thing ties together both departments – they are plagued by underfunding, and the new PM has pledged to spend more money. Beyond that, it’s difficult to say what direction the ministers will take their departments in, and what effect this will have on nursery, school and care staff on the ground. However, one thing can be said for sure – changes will be coming down the line and we hope sooner rather than later.

Underfunding is one of the reasons we price our courses so competitively. Training can make a real difference to the quality of care schools and nurseries provide, and as many providers should have access to training as possible. To take a look at our early years, education and care courses now.

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