The latest briefing from the Knowledge Exchange focuses on the educational outcomes of looked after children (LAC) in Britain. You can download the briefing for free from the Knowledge Exchange home page.
by Stacey Dingwall
According to the NSPCC, there were 92,000 LAC in the UK in 2013, which represents a significant increase on the 2008 figure of 81,315. The National Institute for Care and Excellence (NICE) have also just published a summary of their recommendations to support local authorities in improving the quality of life and wellbeing of LAC, which indicates that the number of LAC in England (currently 68,000) is increasing each year.
A review of the evidence on particular challenges facing LAC indicated that their educational outcomes were of particular concern. According to figures released by the Department of Education (as of 31 March 2013) only 15.3% of LAC gained five or more A*-C GCSEs or equivalent compared with 58.0% of non-looked after children. The situation in Scotland is similar, where 85% of LAC who left school during the academic year 2012-13 were aged 16 or under, compared to 30% of their peers.
Evidence also suggests that the gap between LAC and their peers persists at all stages of the education cycle: according to the University of Leeds, only 60 of the almost 11,000 young people who leave care each year will go onto university.
The briefing also includes examples of best practice from local authorities, schools, universities and voluntary organisations in trying to improve the educational outcomes of LAC, such as the Horizons Centre in the London Borough of Ealing, a purpose-built facility for LAC and care leavers which offers practical support and grants to help young people move into further and higher education.
The Knowledge Exchange specialises in public and social policy. To gain an insight into the commentary it offers, please request your briefing(s) of interest from the Briefings page on the Knowledge Exchange website.