The educational achievement of looked-after children in England has improved for the second year running but still lags far behind the national average.
The proportion of looked-after children obtaining one GCSE or GNVQ rose to 60 per cent in the 12 months to September 2005, up from 56 per cent in 2004 and 53 per cent in 2003, according to the Department for Education and Skills.
The number achieving five GCSEs at grades A* to C increased to 11 per cent in 2005 from about 9 per cent in the previous two years.
By comparison, 96 per cent of all children were awarded at least one GCSE in 2005 and 56 per cent passed five at grades A* to C.
The figures were released as the government continues to work on a green paper on looked-after children, which is likely to focus on their educational achievement (Paper to address placement stability, 2 March).
Performance by looked-after children at key stages one, two and three also showed slight increases in 2005, as did health outcomes. The proportion of children who had their annual health assessment increased from 75 per cent in 2003 to 80 per cent in 2005.
Maxine Wrigley, national coordinator of A National Voice, the charity for children in care, said performance at school was going in the right direction but was moving too slowly.
She said local authorities had to put more focus on personal education plans because many lookedafter children and young people said they did not have a plan or were not aware of it.
Research to be published soon by the charity has found that young people think placement stability is the major factor in their education problems and many would like more one-to-one tuition.
The DfES statistics also showed that more looked-after children are remaining in full-time education at the end of year 11.
However, the proportion who were cautioned or convicted of an offence stayed at 9 per cent, the same as in the previous two years.
● Outcome Indicators for Looked after Children is available from www.dfes.gov.uk