Only 1% of care leavers go to university compared to over 40% of all under 30-year-olds, a report out today reveals.
The study, published by children’s charity NCH, also flags up that the gap in achievement between children in care and other children has grown by 2% since 2000.
The government has set a target for 50% of all young people to go to university by 2010, but the research, which draws together a range of information on looked-after children’s education and achievement, says that last year just 6% of children left care with five or more GCSEs compared with half of pupils overall.
The report says that looked-after children’s failure to achieve cannot be blamed on learning difficulties or behaviour problems, but that the reasons stem from a wide-ranging systems failure, from unstable placements to insufficient training for teachers and carers.
NCH calls on the government to create new laws and policies to address the under achievement of looked after children and to take a strategic lead on the issue. It says that this must include tackling the school admissions system and the development of a long-term vision for the care system.
“At present, we are letting them [looked-after children] down very badly and consigning many to social exclusion when they grow up. We won’t end child poverty unless we tackle this problem once and for all,” said NCH chief executive Clare Tickell.
The charity concludes that although the new duty placed on local authorities to promote the education of looked after children by the Children Act 2004 is a positive step it does not apply to schools where many changes need to take place.