Department for Children, Schools and Families
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The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) was a department of the UK government, between 2007 and 2010, responsible for issues affecting people in England up to the age of 19, including child protection and education. The DCSF was replaced by the Department for Education after the change of government following the General Election 2010.
History and responsibilities
Other education functions of the former DfES were taken over by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (originally the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, since merged with Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform).
The DCSF was directly responsible for state schools in England.
The Department employed over 2,500 staff.
In May 2010 the DCSF had four main sites:
- Castle View House, Runcorn
- Moorfoot Building, Sheffield
- Mowden Hall, Darlington
- Sanctuary Buildings, London
Charlie Brooker, writing in the Guardian, has expressed incredulity that the department for children, schools and families is supportive of Brain Gym, despite its broad condemnation by scientific organisations, and despite it being apparently nonsense.
Upon learning that the programme was used at hundreds of UK state schools, Dr Ben Goldacre of The Guardian's Bad Science pages called it a "vast empire of pseudoscience" and went on to dissect parts of their teaching materials, refuting, for instance, claims that rubbing the chest would stimulate the carotid arteries, that "processed foods do not contain water", or that liquids other than water "are processed in the body as food, and do not serve the body's water needs."
Child friendly identity and branding
The department adopted a "child friendly" visual identity, known as "Building the Rainbow" shortly after it was established. The main features of the brand identity were a rainbow logo and images of cartoonised children carrying blocks to build the rainbow logo. The lettering on the logo was all in lower case despite being a proper noun. It was reported in the Daily Telegraph that several thousand pounds were spent on adopting and implementing this visual identity.
Refurbishment of headquarters building
The Department has also come under criticism during the 2010 General Election, after it was revealed that the Department's offices had a refit which included a "contemplation room". Other features include a grand glass and steel staircase and imported Italian designer furniture. The total cost of the refit was estimated to be three million pounds, at a time when the department needed to make two billion pounds of savings.
- Department for Education and Skills (Wales) - Welsh equivalent
- Education Directorates - Scottish equivalent
- Department of Education (Northern Ireland) - Northern Irish equivalent
- Baker, Mike (24 December 2007). "A year of changes in education". BBC News. Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Norman, Jesse (1 July 2009). "Loosening the state's hold on schools". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 1 May 2010.
- Levin, Angela (31 May 2008). "Social workers said we were too middle-class and too white to adopt". Daily Mail (London).
- Doughty, Steve (22 December 2008). "Parents warned not to 'hang baubles on Christmas tree' in leaflet issued by Ed Balls' staff". Daily Mail (London).
- Direct.gov.uk press release
- DCSF Annual Report
- DCSF Contact Us Webpage accessed 7 May 2010
- Brooker, Charlie (2008-04-07). "Charlie Brooker on the pseudoscience of Brain Gym". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-09-01.
All of which sounds like hooey to me. And also to the British Neuroscience Association, the Physiological Society and the charity Sense About Science, who have written to every local education authority in the land to complain about Brain Gym's misrepresentation of, um, reality.
- Ben Goldacre (2006-03-18). "Brain Gym exercises do pupils no favours". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
I've accidentally stumbled upon a vast empire of pseudoscience being peddled in hundreds of state schools up and down the country.
- Shepherd, Jessica (13 May 2010). "Goodbye Department for Curtains and Soft Furnishings". The Guardian (London).
- Opulent Ed: Balls refits his office with £3m of luxuries (including massage room)