Extra cash for vulnerable groups is always welcome. So the
announcement that £84m a year for the next three years is to
be spent on supporting vulnerable young people through education
has to be good news.
But only half of it is new money, and the cash will be divided
between truants, teenage parents, young carers, travellers’
children, youngsters with medical needs, children in care – oh, and
asylum seekers. Let’s be honest, £42m is not really an awful
lot to go round, so no need to get too excited.
But it is a start, and there is a lot to be done. Just look at
children in care, for example. Figures released at the start of
this month showed that only 41 per cent of care leavers achieved
the Quality Protects target of at least one GCSE or GNVQ (compared
with 95 per cent of those not in care). The numbers were up by 4
per cent but they are still pretty damning.
What would be really welcome is improved training to ensure more
social workers have the right skills to help them support the
education of vulnerable young people. Formal training in education
is non-existent in the current Diploma in Social Work course. But
surely this has to be an issue for those working in social care –
and for those fostering children, come to that. After all,
education is probably one of the most important factors in
determining how people will fare in later life.