Educating the LookedAfter Kids

Educational attainment is one of the most important determinants of future outcomes for children who have been looked after. Most children become looked after because of adverse experiences in their families. What happens before children become looked after has a major influence on what happens during their period in care. 49% of young people leaving care at age 16 or over and this is the current performance indicator that local government is judged against. This indicator performance has been rated by the Commission for Social Care Inspection (SCI) as generally high and increasing. However, it must be remembered that this 49% compares poorly with a rate of 95% in the general population. (Padhy 37)Councils are also judged on the proportion of children and young people who are engaged in education, training, or employment at the age of nineteen. Again, performance against that indicator is improving. Although it is important to focus on these indicators as useful in helping authorities assess their performance it is also essential that local authorities as corporate parents have high expectations of the children and young people in our care, and that these include but also go beyond educational attainment.Certainly, some of the poor achievement can be explained by a range of other factors, looked after children are more likely to be from groups that traditionally tend to do less well in education, and they are more likely to have special educational needs and to be statemented. The performance assessment framework indicators do adjust for these factors which demonstrate that even taking these into account looked after children as a group is not doing as well as their peers.With the improvement in the early support available to families, fewer children will face such adverse experiences and that a greater number can be supported safely within their families. Research also suggests that there is often room for children’s services to act more decisively at earlier stages in children’s lives.