One GCSE is not good enough

24th February 2006 at 00:00
The majority of children in care are entered for just one GCSE, the Government has admitted.

Maria Eagle, education junior minister, said she was shocked to discover that 54 per cent of looked-after children were put forward for only one GCSE exam. "How can you pass an exam if you're not entered for it?" she asked a meeting of the all-party parliamentary group on children in care.

"What does this say about aspirations?"

Children's charities NCH and Barnado's want the Government to scrap its target of one GCSE for children in care, arguing that it only encourages low expectations.

Children outside the care system are expected to get at least five A* to C grades.

Ivor Frank, a barrister who grew up in care, said he thought the care system was geared not to educating looked-after children, but to managing failures. "It's pathetic. I'm sure many of them are capable of much more.

We spend more educating prisoners than on teaching children in care."

Suzanne Parry, who grew up in care and left school with one GCSE, said:

"It's this thing about kids in care being thick and a waste of space. A lot of teachers seem happy to accept the target of one GCSE and not push for more. If the Government said put them in for three GCSEs, that is what the teachers would do."

What three things do you think would improve the life of children in care? Have your say at www.

NEWS 18, leader 22

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