Local educational authorities are to receive extra government
money to tackle the educational achievement of children in care, as
part of a reorganisation of grants for vulnerable young people,
writes Derren Hayes.
From April 2003, LEAs will be given an additional £84m to
increase the number of children in care that attain one or more
GCSEs – currently, 50 per cent leave school with no
qualifications – and reduce the number of looked-after
children who are excluded from school.
The funding, which is to be repeated for three years, is the
amalgamation and expansion of a number of existing small grants
into a new “increase standards fund”, focused on
supporting vulnerable young people through education.
The fund – more than half of which will be new money
– will help school refusers, teenage parents, young carers,
asylum seekers, traveller children, and young people with medical
needs, as well as children in care.
While most of the money for education promised in the July
spending review will go to local authorities in their formula
spending share (formally the standard spending assessment), this
new fund will be ring-fenced and go directly to the LEAs from the
Department for Education and Skills.
Speaking at the Voice for the Child in Care’s annual
conference in London yesterday, minister for young people and adult
skills Ivan Lewis said the new fund would help local authorities
meet the needs of the most vulnerable children.
“We want local authorities to take a strategic view on
engaging young people and shaping services around their
needs,” he added.
Lewis said the grant could be used for a range of initiatives
such as setting up distance learning schemes, services to identify
those most at risk of developing problems, and systems for
reintegrating excluded children back into mainstream schools.
Just over half the money will be allocated to LEAs on the basis
of pupil numbers, a further 25 per cent on the number of free
school meals, and the remaining 20 per cent on the number of
traveller children in each area.
LEAs will have to undertake assessments of looked-after
children’s educational needs upon entry to school.