English Schools Issue a Crisis Alert on Surge in Hungry Youngsters

According to accounts from headteachers across England, children are so hungry that they are eating rubbers or hiding in the playground because they cannot afford lunch.

A new study on food poverty in schools is set to be released next month by Chefs in Schools, a healthy eating charity that trains chefs for school kitchens. The most recent official figures show that in the years between 2020 and 2021, 4.2 million people (6%) were food insecure. 9% of all children are included.

Government statistics are actual facts that a government body reports on for statistical purposes. Official statistics is another word used in some nations.

Mounting crisis

The headteachers claim that the government is leaving schools to deal with a mounting crisis, which is reinforced by the findings of the survey. It exposes that, even before winter and high energy costs force more families to choose between turning on the warmth and buying food, many schools in England are already observing a rise in the number of hungry children.

Because the youngster did not qualify for free school meals and did not want their peers to know there was no food at home, one school in Lewisham, south-east London, informed the charity about the child who was “pretending to eat out of an empty lunchbox.”

From kindergarten through year two, all young kids in England are eligible for free school lunches. But beyond that, only kids whose parents make less than £7,400 a year are eligible, and the Child Poverty Action Group estimates that this leaves 800,000 poor kids out.

Growing demand

Many of the schools rely on funds that are already overstretched to feed hungry students who are not eligible for free school lunches. She supports the position of teachers’ unions in demanding that all children from families receiving universal credit be eligible.

Oxford Mutual Aid, a non-profit organisation that distributes emergency food packages, has had to reduce the number of delivery days because the organisation’s hundreds of volunteer packers, drivers, and organisers are unable to keep up with the rise in requests for assistance, which frequently come from primary schools.

Headteachers worry about the escalating levels of worry among the kids in addition to the fact that they frequently go to bed hungry.

Technology and Information Can Unlock Justice

Technology is the continually developing result of accumulated knowledge and application in all techniques, skills, methods, and processes used in industrial production and scientific research.

Technology has the potential to unlock justice for all, according to a new report launched by The Law Society. However, it is by no means a silver bullet for change.

Information is processed, organised and structured data. It provides context for data and enables decision making processes.

For example, a single customer’s sale at a restaurant is data – this becomes information when the business is able to identify the most popular or least popular dish.

Based on an assessment of 50 initiatives and qualitative interviews with more than 45 stakeholders – the report explores whether technology is the key to unlock the potential of law, justice and rights.

It concludes that, with the right support from government, technology can be the key to unlocking access to justice innovation.

Key findings include:

  • Significant work is being done by firms, advice clinics and in-house teams to meet legal need which is supported by technology. The government has taken positive steps through the Legal Support Advisory Group and its ministerial commitments to support new forms of technology to make justice more accessible. There is, however, much more to be done – in most cases, better data management, information sharing and co-ordination is needed;
  • The consumer-facing market is less mature than the business-to-business market on legal technology adoption. Recently, resource allocation and the need for greater efficiencies have driven demand for technological solutions;
  • Online resources are the primary means of providing information to the public. However, face-to-face remains the most popular way for delivering advice, followed by mobile apps which are often used at the start of the process;
  • Barriers to technological adoption include; widespread variation, lack of access to data, inequality of resources, duplication of products, funding and regulatory concerns.
  • Innovation is being led and used by third sector, including law centres and pro bono clinics, often working with firms and universities to provide services. This is more commonly found for disputes in housing, family, employment, debt and social welfare.

The report recommends government bodies, private sector and third sector organisations that offer funds for legal technology and access to justice initiatives should agree on a set of principles to encourage long-term investment in the sector.

It also suggests the creation of an Open Source Platform for access to justice and technology and a comprehensive list of agreed solutions to overcome barriers and meet legal need.

UK lawtech not yet disruptive, new research shows

Lawtech in the UK has a long way to go if it is to reach its potential, the Law Society of England and Wales said as it launched new research into the development and adoption of sector-specific technology.

In its Lawtech Adoption Report, the Law Society explores the UK’s burgeoning lawtech sector and highlights key developments in this area and what this means for the legal profession and the business of law.

Law Society president Christina Blacklaws said: “A range of drivers is accelerating development and adoption of lawtech, from an escalating need for efficiency, increasing workloads and complexity of work to client pressure on costs and shorter turnaround times.

“Some of the most notable growth areas are legal analytics, legal project management, governance and compliance and contract management.

“Lawtech in the UK is largely focused on efficiencies and automation rather than on delivering ‘new types of law’. As such it is less mature than other fields of digital disruption – such as fintech, where there is more funding and regulatory alignment.”

The business-to-business legal services market is the most mature, particularly within large law firms, where AI and machine learning-driven applications are ubiquitous. Some of the more established areas include collaboration tools, document management, IP management and e-billing.

The business-to-consumer legal market seems to be lagging behind. There is most traction in those law firms that are delivering large-scale commoditised services, where automation is principally all about driving efficiencies. For instance, chatbots, DIY law, robo-lawyers and triage tools are all becoming more common with a greater focus on the consumer experience.

“Our research found that law firms face barriers to adoption of many lawtech solutions that are fundamental to the industry, such as risks around compliance, the partnership and billable hours models,” Christina Blacklaws said.

“After several years of start-up activity, the sector is now ripe for a wave of consolidation and later stage funding. Adopting and pioneering new technologies will give firms a strong competitive advantage in a rapidly evolving legal services market.”

New Attorney General Appointed for England and Wales

Her Majesty’s Attorney General for England and Wales is one of the law officers of the Crown. The attorney general serves as the principal legal adviser to the Crown and the Government in England and Wales. The attorney general maintains the Attorney General’s Office and currently attends Cabinet.

The Prime Minister appointed Geoffrey Cox QC MP as Attorney General on 9 July. As the Government’s chief legal advisor, Geoffrey Cox will advise the Government and attend Cabinet.

The new Attorney General will also oversee the work of the Law Officers Departments which include the independent prosecuting authorities, the Crown Prosecution Service and Serious Fraud Office, and the Government Legal Department and HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate.

The Attorney General and Solicitor General also carry out a number of functions in the public interest, such as considering unduly lenient sentences, and take action when there has been a contempt of court. These functions are carried out independently of their role as Government ministers.

Notes Geoffrey Cox QC MP was appointed Attorney General for England and Wales on 9 July 2018. He replaces Jeremy Wright QC MP who is now Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.

The Solicitor General, Robert Buckland QC MP, remains in post.

Professional Biography

Geoffrey Cox has been MP for Torridge and West Devon since May 2005. He lives in West Devon, near Tavistock, with his wife, Jeanie and his family. They have a daughter and two sons, Charlotte, James and Jonathan who attended the local school. Geoffrey was born and brought up in the West Country.

Geoffrey Cox QC was called to the Bar in 1982 and made Silk in 2003. He co-founded Thomas More Chambers in 1992.

Geoffrey Cox has appeared in many high profile cases receiving national and international publicity from trial to appeal before the Court of Appeal, the Privy Council and the Supreme Court.

His advocacy has been described by a professional court journalist in a recent book as “extremely persuasive”. Geoffrey is a member of the Criminal Bar Association.