MPs on the education select committee are right to highlight
concern over the schooling of looked-after children. It remains a
disgrace that 47 per cent of these young people leave school
without a single GCSE to their name (compared with about 11 per
cent in the general population).
And it’s hard to see how the new freedoms for schools set out in
the government’s five-year education plan are going to do anything
to help this already disadvantaged group. With local education
authorities stripped of so many of their powers, who is going to
make sure that schools are inclusive when they are able to operate
their own admissions policy?
Without legislative backing, existing voluntary guidance urging
schools to treat vulnerable children equally and work with other
agencies to help them could fall by the wayside.
While some schools have an excellent record when it comes to
addressing the needs of disadvantaged pupils others have shown
little enthusiasm for it. Extended schools or no extended schools,
it remains open to question whether those institutions that have
been hung up on educational attainment to the exclusion of all else
will ever fully engage in the children’s services reforms agenda.