Remember: May 2006

The Webmag has been going for over six years now, and we must have published over a thousand articles. Who refers to the musty piles of back numbers of hard copy magazines?
The Webmag articles are all there at the touch of the Back Issues button. Modern technology makes them available.

But unless you are using a search engine, you might not think of rooting through our past issues, and if you are a new reader, you certainly won’t remember the pieces when they came out. There are some really good articles published years ago but still worth looking at, and this column is intended to draw attention to a few of them.

Gus Greene started a column offering tips to practitioners. This piece. published in October 2000, was called Stand-off at Bedtime. No further explanation needed, but if you have looked after disturbed children, you may well have had to face the problem. It is said that looking after children keeps one young. Some workers might beg to differ, especially if they’ve had to stay up while the children refuse to go to bed.

Gus’s series of articles evolved into an account of life in Bluebrick children’s home. There was never a dull day in the home, but that is what residential care is like – no two days the same. Whether spelt out, as in this article, or implicit, as in the later columns, Gus’s  writing was good teaching material.

In the November 2000 issue Keith White wrote about the Educational Attainments of Children in the Care System. In one way his piece is now dated, as he criticised the split at Government level between education and care, which is now all the responsibility of the Department for Education and Skills. Good to know that Tony Blair paid attention to the Webmag, and restructured the Ministries.

For the most part, though, Keith’s message is as powerful as ever. He decried the low attainments of children in care. The record is dismal. Research suggests that only 1% of children in residential care get to university. It would be understandable if the average were below that of the population as a whole, because of the disturbed background of most young people in residential care, but surely not 1%. As Keith noted, the community which he heads “bucks the trend”, and a number of the people who have lived at Mill Grove have gone on to higher education. DfES (and Tony Blair), take note.

In the December 2000 issue, among the items about Christmas there was a more sombre piece about society’s attitudes to young offenders, focusing on the two men (then boys) who killed Jamie Bolger. Terry Hoon argued for greater community involvement in dealing with crime and offenders under the title Revenge and Retribution? – or Reparation and Restoration?

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