Mentor magistrates

Magistrates, religious leaders and City liverymen and women should act as volunteer mentors for looked-after children, says Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust.

Sir Cyril will make his recommendations at a symposium in London on Tuesday, held by The TES and HSBC bank as part of the paper''s Time to Care campaign.

He said: "Many looked-after children do not develop an effective relationship with the social services person assigned to look after them.

We recommend an alternative mentoring scheme be established on a trial basis."

Simon Wolfensohn, a magistrate in Swindon, welcomed the idea but said care would have to be taken that conflicts of interest did not arise if the mentored child broke the law and appeared before one of the magistrate's colleagues.

"Most youth magistrates work in youth courts because they care about young people, rather than because they want to be punitive towards them," he said. "You know the system, and can interpret it for the kids."

The Time to Care symposium will include a speech from Parmjit Dhanda, the minister responsible for looked-after children.

Higher aims for kids in care, page 34

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