Exclusive: Looked-after pupils denied right to choice of school

Study also finds looked-after children complain of being stereotyped by teachers

Hélène Mulholland

looked after children

Almost half of looked-after children are being denied their lawful right to their first choice school, the findings of a new report suggest.

The statutory admissions code says schools must give pupils in local authority care "the highest priority".

But 43 per cent of looked-after children participating in a study being published by the fostering and adoption charity, TACT, today said they were given no say in where they went to school.

The report also found that almost a third (30 per cent) of foster carers said they had not been involved in choosing the school that the children in their care attended.

The study – based on face-to-face interviews with 81 pupils in care and a survey of 89 foster carers – found that many young people (36 per cent) were not involved in the development of their own personal education plans.

And more than half (59 per cent) were not aware of what the pupil premium school funding aimed at helping them was.

Many young people expressed a desire for additional services or services that had had funding cut. Common requests included laptops, tablets and one-to-one tuition. 

Asked how teachers could better support them at school, several pupils said by “listening to me”, “showing interest” and “less stereotyping and judgement” and a better understanding of what it is like to be a looked-after child.

While the pupils said they wanted to go through school being treated like everyone else, almost half (46 per cent) of respondents said they felt their educational experience was different to that of other children.

Reasons given included being pulled out of class for meetings related to their looked-after status, missing class for services, perceived stigmatisation by teachers, bullying and unwanted special attention.

TACT chief executive, Andy Elvin, said that education worked best for looked after children when carers were “fully involved” by the school.

“The carer, be their foster carer, adopter or relative, is the expert on their child,” he said. “It is therefore crucial to the child’s success that the school and family work closely together to support the child’s education.”


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Hélène Mulholland

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