Help the invisible children in care

Today The TESTESS begins a campaign for a better deal for the 72,000 children in care in Britain. It is almost five years since Jack McConnell, then Education Minister, expressed his "serious concern" about the lack of support for these children, 11,000 of whom are in Scotland.

This is despite the fact that care plans covering all aspects of a young person's life, including education, have been a legal obligation on councils since 1997. Mr McConnell demanded action.

Since then, and pound;16 million in specific funding later, thousands of them have passed through school. Yet new figures from south of the border show that the scandal remains: just one in 16 achieves five good GCSEs and fewer than 100 each year go to university. The latest Scottish figures, for 2003-04, showed that 60 per cent leaving care had no Standard grades, compared with less than 10 per cent of 16 and 17-year-olds as a whole.

Schools deal with these children every day. When one thrives, it is often a dedicated teacher who makes the difference. But, for most people, these invisible children rise briefly up the political agenda and disappear again. Our campaign aims to remind others of their plight. We want to start a debate about how they can be helped.

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