If you're a huge music fan like I am, you'll know that this is the time of year when the shops are full of greatest hits collections, which have been released in the hope that they'll find their way into plenty of stockings for Christmas. In keeping in this spirit, today's post brings together some of the most important documents and research which have been covered over the last 12 months, as if you're only an occasional visitor here you may have missed some of them before.

In February there were bad headlines after the UK came bottom of the league of a UNICEF survey of child well-being in rich countries. In fact, the theme of child poverty was a recurring theme throughout the year. It's difficult to isolate one or two reports as standing out from the others in this area, but you could certainly do worse than look at the work of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation in this area. Click on this link to be taken to the section of their website devoted to child poverty; their annual Monitoring Poverty and Social Exclusion report is also an important document.

In June, the DfES was split into two; the new Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) is the new body whose work should most interest our students. This year also saw the setting up of the Equality & Human Rights Commission, a new organisation which replaces the work of the three commissions which had previously been responsible for combating discrimination in various forms.

Getting a contemporary, accurate picture of your sector is sometimes more difficult than you might expect, so thankfully a couple of reports from this year should help to make this a little easier. The DCSF has recently carried out a series of surveys into childcare and early years providers in the UK; summaries of their findings can be found in this report. Also of interest should be October's Focus on Families, which provides a very detailed picture of family life in the UK today.

One of the recurring themes that seems to crop up in child-related news stories at the moment is the issue of where children can play safely today. This theme was given a bit of a push in November with the publication of Tim Gill's No Fear, which argued that a modern preoccupation with protecting children from harm could have the effect of damaging their freedoms and relationships with adults.

Finally, some looking ahead to next year. It's likely that there will be plenty of discussion around the recently released Children's Plan, which sets out government policy in this area for the next decade. We're also likely to hear more from the Primary Review (dubbed the most comprehensive review of primary education in 40 years), which has already begun to publish its findings but will continue to release reports well into 2008. September 2008 will also see the introduction of the new statutory guidance for the Early Years Foundation Stage, but you can read about this now. And for your New Year's resolution, try to get into the habit of using the newly-launched Educational Evidence Portal, which looks like it's going to be an excellent tool for helping users turn up reliable information on all aspects of education.

Hopefully you'll all find this useful - if you do, leave a comment below - here's how - or feel free to suggest something else which you think other users will find especially useful. The blog will be back in the New Year; hopefully you'll you all have a wonderful break, and find some time to relax from your work. To help you with that, here's the link to the Peanuts site which was apparently popular back in the summer. Merry Christmas!


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