The statistics published by the Scottish Executive last month on the education of looked-after children must be treated with the usual caution about the limitations of such statistics.
But what I find particularly disappointing is that two local authorities (East Renfrewshire and Scottish Borders) did not provide any information in time for inclusion in the figures, and a further seven authorities were unable to provide information to contribute to particular tables.
I think there are questions to be asked here. Everyone agrees that improving the provision for looked-after children is a government priority; no one disagrees that we should have high standards of communication and monitoring. So why can't we achieve a 100 per cent statistical return from local authorities?
Is this a failure to meet a deadline (which I understand was extended by a month after many councils failed to meet the original deadline), or a more fundamental problem of not knowing important details about children in the authorities' care?
Maybe the councils concerned or the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities could tell us?
Dr Graham Connelly
senior lecturer, Department of educational and professional studies, Strathclyde University