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Every Child Matters: Change for Children

These pages provide a summary of the 2003 Green Paper Every Child Matters and an overview of some early key documents. The Update section contains a selection of recent news items. For the most up to date information and publications from Every Child Matters, visit

update icon Update

Overview icon Overview

About the Green Paper Every Child Matters

Related issues

Every Child Matters: Change for Children is a major new approach to the well-being of children from birth to age 19. The Government aim is for every child, whatever their background or circumstances, to have the support they need to:

  • Be healthy
  • Stay safe
  • Enjoy and achieve
  • Make a positive contribution
  • Achieve economic well-being

These are known as the five outcomes.

The Children Act 2004 provides the legislative framework for taking forward the Green Paper Every Child Matters, published in autumn 2003. The aim is to transform children's services through maximising opportunities, while minimising risk, for every child and young person. A new Director of Children's Services in local authorities is leading local change, bringing together education and children's social services directorates. The role of the Children's Services Director includes leadership within the local authority to secure and sustain changes to culture and practices to improve outcomes for all. A Lead Member for Children is expected to provide political leadership within and beyond the local authority to involve local communities in the Change for Children agenda.

This new remit fits alongside their key local authority responsibilities, including the improvement of school standards in the context of the New Relationship with Schools.

Every local authority is charged to work with partners, including Primary Care Trusts, to find out what is needed to support children and young people, and then act on it. The appointment of a Children's Commissioner in England, an independent adviser to the Government who will also hear specific complaints, will help to give children and young people a voice in this process. Local authorities, Primary Care Trusts, and others, will be expected to pool budgets into a children's trust to support more joined up services on the ground.

Every Child Matters: The Next Steps
Department for Education and Skills, 2004

This document provides an overview of the legislation and how the proposals might work in practice. There will be a new duty on agencies to cooperate among themselves and with other partners, like the voluntary and community sector; schools are seen as critical partners. Many schools now offer extended services, and there will be further consultation to see how stronger links between schools and other services can work, the role of schools in information sharing and the concept of the 'lead professional'.
Every Child Matters: Change for Children
Department for Education and Skills, 2004

This document is about the setting-up of multi-agency approaches to improving outcomes for children in local authorities. It details outcomes for all local authorities to work towards, and says that each authority is to draw up a single Children and Young People's plan, to be in place by April 2006. Where possible, local authority teams that deal with children will be co-located, for example in Children's Centres and extended schools.

The document talks about various initiatives that are being developed around children's services, but does not mention literacy specifically (and therefore the case for including a literacy dimension in children's services will need to be made). Local Area Agreements are being piloted, which include a children and young people "theme". Other themes include "healthier communities" and "safer and stronger communities" (see below for more on Local Area Agreements).

A Common Assessment Framework has been developed to provide early assessment of children and young people's individual, family and community needs. A Common Core of skills and knowledge is to be introduced so that all those in the children's workforce can share language and understanding of issues.

Every Child Matters: Change for Children
Working with voluntary and community organisations to deliver change for children and young people
Department for Education and Skills, 2004

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) published this strategy for working with the voluntary and community sector, alongside Every Child Matters: Change for Children (outlined above). It sets out the Government's commitment to working with the sector at both national and local levels, and the actions the DfES will take.

The Government recognises that voluntary and community organisations have a unique role in reaching out and delivering services to people at risk of social exclusion. It expects that they will help local authorities develop Children and Young People's Plans and Local Area Agreements, as well as playing a role in Local Strategic Partnerships.

This document, together with 'Engaging the Voluntary and Community Sectors in Children's Trusts', can be downloaded from

Local Area Agreements
Local Area Agreements (LAAs) are voluntary, three-year agreements between central government, local authorities and their partners. They will deliver national outcomes in a way that reflects local priorities. The Department for Education and Skills has been working with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and other government departments to pilot LAAs initially in 20 authorities. A second phase involving 66 authorities starts in April 2006, with a full national roll-out in 2007.

LAAs, children's trusts and local strategic partnerships will give areas the opportunity to find solutions to local problems using a number of pooled funding streams.


update icon Update

Health service weakest link

A report from TES on how NHS reforms threaten to derail Every Child Matters by leaving schools out of the picture. To read the full article visit:

(TES, 31March 2006)

Leading think-tank calls to dump central advisers

Efforts to create effective new local authority children's services departments are being undermined by the plethora of central government advisers monitoring them, a think-tank has warned.

In a report on reforming children's services, Demos, which describes itself as "the think-tank for everyday democracy", described an ongoing war of attrition between central and local government that "can only have negative consequences for young people". It called on central government to abandon its "command and control" approach and said local authorities should be able to commission advice as and when they need it.

The report also called for changes to inspections to allow local authorities and schools to get more from the process. Demos is highly critical of the large number of central government advisers assigned to local authorities. It gives the example of one children's service department that had 19 separate advisers working with it on everything from Sure Start to drugs and the primary strategy.

Funding given by the Government to local authorities for a wide range of activities and policy goals came with an "adviser" attached, Demos found. Its report said: "The key point here is the serious damage to the relationship between central and local government that is being caused by the present lack of clarity surrounding these 'advisory' roles. As it stands, many roles combine advice and performance management, meaning that authorities can feel unsure whether they are being advised or monitored at any given moment."

The result was defensive or even adversarial relationships between the two tiers of government, Demos argued.

The full report, The leadership imperative: reforming children's services from the ground up is available at

(TES, 2 December 2005)

Children's trusts and Every Child Matters

The next two years will be critical for the new children's agenda. Bringing together more closely the agencies and individuals who work with children makes good sense, if every child really does matter, but it offers a tremendous challenge to school leaders. How can each school play a central part? What does collaboration with key people in health, social services, the police and voluntary bodies really mean in practice? And should each school now appoint a director of external relations, as it would be called in other contexts, to ensure the best possible results?

Schools have always worked with outside agencies. Sometimes it is inevitable, if a child gets into trouble with the law or a family falls on hard times. When different professionals work together, it can prevent problems. For instance, the early detection of a hearing or mobility problem brings health professionals and educators together.

The Government's new agenda for children is enshrined in the 2004 Children Act and the Every Child Matters guidance attempts to formalise this collaboration through children's trusts, which bring together all local services for children and young people.

The role of children's trusts in this manner is to set policies that will ripple out to every town and village. Looked-after children often get a raw deal; the trusts can ensure that they get a proper education and health care by monitoring what happens to them in each region.

Schools have a massive role in the new children's agenda. In some cases it is a part they play already, while in others practices will no doubt change. Is it obvious, for example, who is the key person inside a school for other agencies to talk to?

From a school point of view there are two important angles: initiating and responding. Schools deal with children every day. Doctors only see them when they are ill. Often a teacher may detect illness, abuse or simply discover a need before anyone else.

Medics and social workers can only go so far, treating and prescribing. Pupil behaviour is a classic example. Many children whose behaviour is poor in school have a significant medical or social problem that the school is powerless to address on its own. Closer liaison with the health and social services may make a difference.

It is important never to lost sight of the 'ordinary child'. If every child really does matter, then those young people who simply get on with their work, and appear on the surface to have no problems are also to be valued.

(TES, 4 November 2005)

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