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Needs of pupils in care ignored

THE education of children in care is organised for the benefit of their carers rather than the young people themselves, according to government-funded research.

A hard-hitting report on the education of looked-after young people found they are not routinely consulted about which school or college they should attend. Work to build on young people's positive education experiences is "inadequate at best and non-existent at worst", the report says.

It accuses care workers of looking for solutions to their own operational difficulties rather than attempting to solve young people's problems.

Since 1997, the Government has introduced measures designed to improve the education of young people in care.

It has succeeded in reducing the number of young people who leave school without qualifications, but official figures show that almost half of those in care still fail to gain a single GCSE of any grade. Fewer than one in 10 looked-after children gains five or more A*-C grades compared with 50 per cent of all children.

The study was carried out by the National Foundation for Educational Research. It surveyed 12 councils who had "relatively more sophisticated" data collection and tracking procedures for the children in their care.

Half of councils were unable to provide data on pupils' performance at key stage 3 and information on primary pupils' performance was virtually non-existent.

It is more than four years since The TES exposed the fact that two-thirds of local education authorities had no idea how these children performed in national tests.

"Achievement at KS4 of young people in public care" by Felicity Fletcher-Campbell and Tasmin Archer is available at www.dfes.gov.ukresearch

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