Minister acts following Tes investigation into plight of children in care

14th March 2018 at 12:27
nadhim zahawi looks into looked-after children school waits
Chair of education committee confronts Nadhim Zahawi with findings from Tes on delays in finding school places for children in care. Minister looking 'seriously' at the issue

Children’s minister Nadhim Zahawi has told MPs he is looking “very seriously” at the problem of looked-after children having to wait for up to a year for a school place.

He was responding to findings from a Tes investigation last month that revealed children in care are being left without a full-time education for up to 11 months after being rejected by schools.

Many will have been forced to move school during the academic year after being placed in care – after a foster placement has failed, or because they are in such serious danger that they need to be relocated urgently.

Mr Zahawi was asked about Tes' findings while appearing before the Commons Education Committee this morning.

Children in care

Committee chair Robert Halfon said: "The Times Educational Supplement on the 23rd of February published that looked-after children [waited] nearly a year for a place when forced to switch schools.

"Almost a tenth of applications for in-year school admissions made on behalf of a child in care are not accepted within the statutory framework of 20 working days. Applications to non-maintained schools are half as likely to be accepted within the deadline as those to maintained schools...Why is this happening?"

Mr Zahawi replied: “You raise an incredibly important point, which is one of the first things I raised when I was made minister – to look at education availability for looked-after children and their attainment and what more we can do.

"So I'm looking at this very seriously at the moment. You’re right to highlight that as an issue.”

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