Children’s services projects share £200m in co-location fund

More than 100 projects across England aimed at bringing services for children and families under one roof are set to benefit from £200m of Government funding.

Children’s secretary Ed Balls, speaking at the National College of School Leadership’s annual conference in Birmingham, said the ‘co-location fund’ will finance projects ranging from education and health to housing, play facilities and careers advice (News, 11 December 2008).

He added that the schools White Paper to be published later this month will feature early intervention and the importance of schools working closely with outside organisations and services as a key theme.

Councillor Sheila Roden, portfolio holder for Children’s Social Care at Luton Borough Council, which was awarded more than £5m for a new centre where children with disabilities can meet, learn and receive treatment, said, ‘Families of disabled children have been telling us for a while now that while local teams work effectively together, the current facilities are of a poor standard and too far away from each other.

‘I am absolutely delighted that this bid has been successful, because this world-class facility will help improve the quality of life for many of Luton’s vulnerable children.’

A spokesperson for the London Borough of Sutton, which was awarded more than £2m for a new building for Tweeddale Extended School and Children’s Centre, said, ‘The funding will mean extra space for the current play and childcare service, an inclusive play project for children with disabilities and more childcare and healthcare experts on hand for services such as joint assessments and multi-agency family meetings and public health and well-being services.’

The Bedfordshire East Schools Trust (BEST) has been awarded almost £2m to build a new baby unit and nursery and a centre for BEST staff, the extended schools co-ordinator, community police officers, PCT and NHS services and parenting and health care advisors.

Cathy Bailey, company secretary of BEST, said, ‘This is the first time we have submitted a bid for funding. We only found out that we had been awarded the money on Thursday and we are all ecstatic.’

Mr Balls also named the ten local authorities that are to benefit from £31m funding to pilot innovative teaching and support for young children with special educational needs (News, 11 December 2008). Redcar and Cleveland, Oldham, Sheffield, Camden, Bexley, East Sussex, Gloucestershire, Nottinghamshire, Coventry and Essex will pilot the schemes, which will run in 450 schools, and trial a number of approaches including better teacher assessment, tracking and intervention, more effective engagement with parents and closer work between schools.