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Councils fail to set care targets

EDUCATION authorities are failing to set targets for reducing exclusions and improving the academic performance of children in care - despite government goals.

A fifth of 61 behaviour support plans surveyed by education and training charity Rathbone CI did not mention looked-after children or set targets for them.

Ministers want 50 per cent of looked-after children to achieve a qualification - at least one graded GCSE - by 2001, and 75 per cent by 2003. Last year, 93.4 per cent of all England's 16-year-olds achieved this standard.

A TES survey earlier this year found at least 47 councils had set targets for improving looked-after children's performance without knowing how well they currently do.

The Government has also called on education authorities to reduce exclusions among looked-after children - up to 80 times more likely to be expelled from school than classmates who live at home. However, no specific exclusion targets have been set.

Carol Toms, Rathbone CI's policy officer, said: "The targets the Government has set are very minimal, and local authorities are copying what it says.

"We think behaviour support plans should state the numbers of looked-after children, their exclusion rate, and the number with statements of special educational need.

"All schools should have a link teacher, and a tutor should be available to support children in residential care who are without a school place, for whatever reason."

Authorities praised by the Manchester-based charity include Derby, which states that all its schools have a teacher responsible for looked-after children, and Redcar and Cleveland, which has an education link person in each children's home.

Rathbone CI has a free helpline for advice and information on exclusions and behaviour issues, telephone 0800 9176790.

8 News TESJmay 28 1999 barry greenwood On-side: Manchester City captain Andy Morrison, who has had discipline problems on and off the field, with pupil Johnny Ramsden, 11

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