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Peacock brings down the barriers

Departmental barriers to achieving integrated services for children must come down, the Education Minister is expected to tell the annual Edinburgh Conference today (Friday).

Peter Peacock will deliver the keynote address to the conference, entitled "The Child in Focus", organised by The TES Scotland and Edinburgh City Council.

Setting integrated community schools (ICSs) at the heart of the wider agenda for children, Mr Peacock will acknowledge that the Scottish Executive's approach to date has perhaps been too relaxed.

But, he will add: "If we are serious about putting the integrated community school more at the centre of integrated community services, we cannot take an entirely laissez-faire approach.

"There have to be minimum standards and expectations of what the ICS is, what it will deliver, and what value it will add.

"From today, I want to see a significant gearing up of discussion to set the standards of what an ICS school is. I want to see any of the departmental barriers that exist to better integration coming down. I want us to explore what more headteachers can do to help secure the packages of support for younger people and families who need it in and out of school."

Mr Peacock will single out for praise family support teams based in community schools in Perth and Kinross, and the multi-agency approach being adopted by Edinburgh to the transition from pre-five to primary which involves health visitors, nursery and primary staff, family learning co-ordinators, a community dietician and play development co-ordinators.

The Executive, which aims to extend the community school concept to all schools by 2007, will draw up performance indicators to judge the effectiveness of the approach as part of HMI's How Good Is Our School? series.

There are also plans to pilot integration of children's services in Edinburgh and Highland, which will include an ambitious attempt to combine existing departmental budgets for children from education, social work and health.

Plea for more time 6 Ewan Aitken 26 Integration Glasgow-style, ScotlandPlus 2-3

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