Scottish first minister Jack McConnell has criticised local
authorities for not doing enough to improve the education of
looked-after children, and threatened legislation on the issue,
writes Derren Hayes.
Speaking at a Barnardo’s Scotland conference in Edinburgh last
week, McConnell said current attainment levels were unacceptably
low and blamed local political leadership and councils’ lack of
ambition for children in care.
He said: “The current outcomes are not good enough,” he said. “Too
many children in care are not going into further education,
employment or training.”
He cited the fact that only 18 of the country’s 32 councils had
applied for £2m of funding from the Scottish executive to
provide education support for looked-after children.
Last week, the Scottish executive announced that just seven bids
had been good enough to warrant funding.
Most children in care perform below the national average in their
GCSE exams. “We’re not getting close to the results we’d like,”
“We’re prepared to put money, guidance and leadership into this,
but political leaders locally need to make sure it gets more
attention. They need to raise their level of ambition [for young
people] and come up with more imaginative ideas.”
He indicated that ministers could look to introduce legislation to
“drive that through”. A review of services is taking place over the
Children’s commissioner Kathleen Marshall said the low number of
successful bids for the pilot funding was a “striking statistic
considering the extent of the problem”. She added that different
solutions would be needed for those in residential care and foster
Hugh Mackintosh, director of Barnardo’s Scotland, said the whole
sector had not paid enough attention to the education of children
“We have to be more creative – we should organise an event to
discuss it,” he added.
The successful bids were from East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire,
Midlothian, Highlands, South Lanarkshire, Glasgow and Stirling
- Further details on the bids from www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2005/06/24124814