Exclusive: From EBacc to mental health, DfE misses deadlines in responding to nine of its own consultations

One consultation that closed in November 2014 has still not received an official response from the DfE

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Child sexual exploitation and young people’s mental health are among nine issues that the Department for Education has consulted on, but then failed to publish a response within its own 12-week target.

Last week marked one year since the DfE's consultation on making the English Baccalaureate compulsory for 90 per cent of pupils closed.

The government has not yet responded to the comments it received, and last week teachers took to Twitter to campaign against the proposals.

The EBacc consultation’s web page states: "We are analysing your feedback. Visit this page again soon to download the outcome to this public feedback."

Government guidance on consultation principles, published last year, said "government responses to consultations should be published in a timely fashion".

It advised government departments to "publish responses within 12 weeks of the consultation or provide an explanation why this is not possible".

DfE consultations out of time

There are eight other DfE consultations that closed more than three months ago and where the department has yet to publish a response:

  • Developing a new set of standards for teaching assistants, which was held by the previous coalition government, ended on 21 November 2014.
  • Out-of-school education settings: registration and inspection, which closed on 11 January 2016.
  • Staffing and employment advice for schools, which closed on 10 February 2016.
  • Statutory definition of child sexual exploitation, run jointly with the Home Office, and which closed on 11 March 2016.
  • Children and young people’s mental health: peer support, which closed on 24 March 2016.
  • Childcare workers: changes to disqualification arrangements, which closed on 1 July 2016.
  • Ventilation, thermal comfort and indoor air quality in schools, which closed on 25 August 2016.
  • Reporting and acting on child abuse and neglect, run jointly with the Home Office, and which closed on 13 October 2016.

Protection from radicalisation

The consultation on out-of-school settings followed concerns about children being at risk of harm or extremism at venues other than schools that provided "intensive tuition, training or instruction to children".

The government consultation document says safeguards to prevent radicalisation, and to ensure background checks are carried out on staff, are not mandatory in such settings.

It asks for views on a proposed system that would include a register, inspections and sanctions – which could include closing premises, and barring individuals from working with children.

Another consultation document seeks comments on updated guidance to help all schools with staffing and employment issues.

The original consultation document promises that the "department's response will be published on gov.uk in February 2016", but, one year later, its web page advises people to "visit this page again soon to download the outcome to this public feedback".

The consultation on child sexual exploitation aimed to provide clarity on a definition that all professions could use, helping them to work together.

TES has contacted the DfE for a comment.

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