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'Pupils in care need counselling'

Schools should offer better counselling and support services for children who have been abused and are in care, claims the NSPCC.

The calls came as The TES launched its Time to Care campaign, which aims to highlight the plight of children in care. Up to 62 per cent of looked-after children have been maltreated and will need additional support to help them to overcome their trauma. Studies show that there are significant differences in educational performance between those children taken into care following abuse or neglect and those who were looked after for other reasons.

Those with lower test scores did not improve and they failed to escape from disadvantage. They also found it harder to recover from their ordeals as easily as those in care because of parental illness or other family crises.

An NSPCC spokeswoman said: "As around two-thirds of looked after children have been maltreated, and the remaining one-third will probably have suffered severe emotional trauma as a consequence of being removed from the family home, schools must take on board the need to provide extra emotional support for all looked-after children.

"The NSPCC is convinced that schools should provide universally accessible counselling and listening services for any child who seeks support. Only by providing open access, independent and universal counselling and listening services will it be possible to meet the emotional development needs of vulnerable children and young people."

Meanwhile, Andrea Warman, fostering development consultant for the British Association of Adoption and Fostering, said children should be handled with sensitivity and patience: "Teachers often do not have a great understanding of the role of foster families and if standards are to be improved then better liaison is needed."

The TES launched its campaign in January amid concerns that looked-after children continue to fail at school. Figures show that more than half of those in care leave school without a single GCSE and just 6 per cent gain five or more top grades. They are also nine times more likely than the general population to have special needs statements.

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