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Council to be full-time parent

CHILDREN in the care of a council who have been excluded from school are to be targeted with round-the-clock supervision in a "24-hour curriculum".

The pioneering Get Connected initiative by Croydon education authority will attempt to improve care for a small group of looked-after children.

Alan Malarkey, the council's director for student services, acknowledges that the supervision of the children involved did not approach that expected from a normal parent.

Mr Malarkey said: "What we are seeking to do is to act as if we were a parent. The problem with local authorities in the care system is that they don't act like that. They go and see the child every month.

"If it was your child, you would want to know what he was doing every night, that he was doing his homework."

An exclusive TES survey conducted earlier this month sparked concerns about the quality of care for looked-after children, after revealing that two-thirds of local education authorities in England - including Croydon - had no information about how their charges did in national tests or in GCSEs.

Croydon's initiative, to begin in September, will assign a social worker and a teacher to coordinating close 24-hour supervision for youngsters in care, but will only be aimed at the most difficult of more than 200 children in the borough's care.

"We are looking at targeting a group of between six to eight very difficult youngsters. These are young people who have been in a pupil referral unit and in schools but have been unable to remain in any of these alternatives because of complex behavioural problems," Mr Malarkey said.

"In practical terms it will mean simple things like going round to get the youngster out of bed, checking what they are doing in the evening, and making sure they are not out getting involved in drugs.

"It is not nine to four, like the normal school day; you think about their entire life."

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