Exam targets urged for children in care

Campaigners have called on schools to be given targets to improve
the educational achievement of looked-after children after wide
differences were revealed across England.

Merton Council in London achieved the best GCSE results last year
with 35 per cent of looked-after children obtaining five grade Cs
or above. But in 16 authorities no one reached that standard.

In Gateshead, 80 per cent of children in care attained five GCSEs
at grade G or above, but 14 authorities recorded less than 30 per
cent.

In 36 authorities, more than half of looked-after children a single
GCSE at grade C or above, according to the Department for Education
and Skills.

Overall, less than 10 per cent of looked-after children gained five
GCSEs at grade C or above last year, compared with a national
average of 54 per cent.

And less than one in four looked-after children achieved level five
at Key Stage 3 compared with an average for all children of 70 per
cent.

Barnardo’s principal policy officer, Pam Hibbert, said the figures
reflected the variation of the quality of children’s care.

But she said more of the onus should be moved on to schools for
meeting the targets rather than local authorities, which often had
little control over issues, such as exclusions, that affect
achievement.

Merton attributes its performance to the introduction of a
dedicated team to oversee the education of looked-after children
and “flying tutors”, who provide private tuition at the request of
pupils.

A spokesperson for the DfES said: “Large percentage differences in
the educational achievement of looked-after children between
authorities can sometimes be explained by the small numbers of
children involved.

“However, we are committed to ensuring that looked-after children
should have the same life chances that any parent would give their
child, including a good education.”

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