2005: A report by Kent Child Protection Committee warns of high numbers of looked-after children being moved to the Thanet district. It says “their behaviour is unlikely to be socially cohesive”.
2013: Then education secretary Michael Gove tells the Commons Education Select Committee some looked-after children are being placed in “crisis communities”, in the “worst places”.
2014: The government rejects calls to ban local authorities from moving children more than 20 miles from home.
Paul Luxmoore, executive head of Coastal Academies Trust, in Kent, says he fears that his area is heading for a “Rotherham-style abuse scandal”.
A Tes investigation reveals that looked-after children are being forced wait up to a year for a school place after having applications – particularly to academies – rejected.
Luxmoore tells Tes that his schools will accept looked-after children only if education secretary Damian Hinds personally guarantees their safety.
14 March 2018: Robert Halfon, chair of the Commons Education Select Committee, confronts children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi with Tes’ findings. The minister says he is looking “very seriously” at the issue.
21 March 2018: Asked by Halfon to respond to Tes’ findings, Hinds says there is an “awful lot” of work to be done on improving the attainment of looked-after children.
16 May 2018: Lib Dem shadow education secretary Layla Moran grills Department for Education permanent secretary Jonathan Slater on the problems faced by looked-after children applying to academies during a Public Accounts Committee hearing. Committee chair Meg Hillier says she plans to follow this issue up with the DfE.
Andrew Fowler, head of Dane Court Grammar School, part of Coastal Academies Trust, is quoted in The Sunday Times as saying police have warned him that drug gangs are trying to recruit grammar pupils and that a fatal stabbing is likely “within 12 months”. He denies making these comments in a letter to parents.
Kent County Council children’s services director Matt Dunkley rejects claims by local heads that Thanet is rife with gangs and drugs.
Zahawi accuses Luxmoore of “scaremongering”.
South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay says he sympathises with local headteachers and blames London boroughs for landing “problem children” – meaning looked-after children – in his constituency.
Zahawi is due to meet Luxmoore and virtual school heads, who are responsible for overseeing the education of looked-after children.