Government unit to examine education of children in care

The educational achievement of children in care is to be the
subject of a major consultation exercise by the social exclusion

Building on existing Quality Protects policies, the SEU is to
look at personal education plans for all children in care,
information sharing between schools and social services and
designated teachers to be an advocate for children in care
attending school.

As well as the formal consultation, which will take in social
services, education authorities, young people in care and
children’s charities, the SEU project team is carrying out studies
of six local authority areas alongside visits to projects to
identify best practice. The final report will be published in

More than two thirds of children leave care at 16 with no
qualifications at all, compared with only 6 per cent of all

Care leavers are significantly more likely to be socially
excluded later in life. Research shows that a quarter of all
prisoners, and up to a third of rough sleepers, have been in

Health minister Jacqui Smith said: “We know that doing badly at
school has a major impact on these children’s chances later in life
and we must do more to see that they get the same educational
opportunities that we would expect for our own children.”

Meanwhile, a report from children’s charity Barnardo’s calls for
the education of children in care to be taken as seriously as other

Better Education, Better Future notes the lack of communication
between education and social services departments, lack of planning
in looked-after children’s education and disruption in schooling
when placements change.

The report calls for residential staff to support children in
their educational needs and urges authorities to avoid exclusions
at school.

Structural changes between departments are essential to improve
communication, and there should be training available for foster
parents, social workers and teachers to raise the awareness of
educational issues.

Good practice in certain authorities has been established and
the report urges great commitment for this progress to be sustained
and developed.

All authorities should develop personal education plans, support
and encourage young people to go onto higher education and provide
transport for children to attend the same school if their placement

A child in care interviewed for the research said: “Social
workers should think, ‘If this was my child, what would I want for
them? What would I be doing to get my child a good

Better Education, Better Futures is available from 01268 520224
and The Who Cares? Trust can be contacted on 020 7251 3117.

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