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Cracks to mend

Last week's analysis did well to highlight the problems faced by children in care ("Parented by the state, failing in class").

The 2008 Children and Young Persons Act has moved some good ideas forward, the requirement for schools to appoint a designated teacher for looked-after children (LAC) being one. But this is against a backdrop of a social care system that is struggling to protect vulnerable children from real harm, and an education system that for too long has been encouraged to pursue exam and test outcomes at the expense of real learning.

More than 10 years ago, the Personal Education Plan (PEP) was devised to push social workers into the educational arena, as they would be responsible for the plan in all aspects of its production. A laudable aim, but only if the social workers were given the time and resources. The final result is perhaps inevitable: the LAC designated teacher has taken over, and PEP reviews are all too often held without the social worker being present.

So much is wrong in the lives of looked-after children, it will take an enormous effort to redress the balance. Unless these issues are addressed, we will still be left with the most obscene statistic of all: that 38 per cent of all males under the age of 21 in prison have been through the "care" system.

Kevin Street, Principal education case worker, SWIIS Foster Care, Edgbaston, Birmingham.

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