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Sides to thrash out care issues

Education officers were expected to quiz officials from the Department for Education and Skills today about plans to combine the work of local education and social services.

Members of the Confederation of Education Service Managers (ConfEd) were due to hear from Tom Jeffrey, director general for Children and Families at the DfES, and Professor David Hopkins, director of the DfES's standards and effectiveness unit, at their annual winter conference in Birmingham.

Proposals from the Every Child Matters Green Paper were expected to be at the top of the agenda. Local authorities have been asked to create Children's Trusts by 2006, which will bring together education, social services and other agencies.

Education officers have broadly welcomed the paper's proposals, but some are concerned about the details of how it will be achieved - particularly plans to create Children's Trust directors.

Sarah Caton, assistant director of ConfEd, said that members of the association were not "protectionist" but wanted to ensure that any changes did not set back their work.

Delegates were due to hear about the latest developments on the Green Paper yesterday from Peter Housden, director general of the schools directorate in the DfES.

Charles Desforges, emeritus education professor at Exeter university, was also expected to speak at the event about the influence that parents have on their children.

Professor Desforges said that his research for the DfES showed that a primary child's education was more affected by the input of their parents than the quality of their school.

"It was a shock," he said. "I used to be a schoolteacher and and we thought the parents could be a bloody nuisance."

The academic's research also showed that it added little value to children's education if their parents became school governors or classroom assistants.

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