Suffolk: County Council must ‘urgently improve’ educational attainment of children in care

Council must 'urgently improve' educational attainment among children in care Council must 'urgently improve' educational attainment among children in care

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
8:25 AM

Suffolk County Council must urgently improve the educational attainment of young people in the county’s care system, according to a new report.

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Prepared for the council’s cabinet, the report charts a decline in educational attainment among ‘Looked After’ children in Suffolk compared to national averages since 2011.

Currently there are 730 ‘Looked After’ children in Suffolk, of which nearly 60% male and the rest female.

Last year just 14.5% of those children achieved five or more GCSEs at A* to C grades including English and maths, compared to 15.3% nationally.

In 2011 ‘Looked After’ the corresponding figure for children in Suffolk was 14%, slightly higher than the 13.6% which was the national average.

Achievement in Key Stage 2 was also below national figures last year. The proportion of ‘Looked After’ children in Suffolk achieving expected levels in maths, reading and writing was 45%, 47% and 34% compared to national averages of 59%, 63% and 55%.

The report notes that a simple comparison is made difficult by the very small cohorts of children in Suffolk who are in care.

However it says that “long term analysis… shows that about one third of children looked after by Suffolk significantly underachieve against their potential in both Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 each year.”

The report adds: “We urgently need to improve the attainment of this group of young people.”

The proportion of ‘Looked After’ children achieving expected progress at GCSE level in Suffolk is roughly a quarter of that for other children.

The report lists several steps to addressing the underachievement including challenging head teachers and governing bodies to respond to the needs of ‘Looked After’ children and ensuring that education is a priority in care planning.

Councillor Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Education is a fundamental right for every child and one which supports them to become active and successful members of the community.

“The county council is fully committed to working closely with young people in care to ensure they have a positive educational experience as they develop to adulthood and independence.

“We take seriously our role as Corporate Parents in providing brighter futures for looked after children and care leavers in Suffolk, realising their ambitions and supporting them to meet their life goals.

“Young people in care tell us that their needs are not always understood; the Corporate Parenting Board will work in close partnership with schools to ensure we all go the extra mile for looked after children across Suffolk.”

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