Plan for a better future

12th May 2006 at 01:00
TES Cymru's Time to Care campaign has highlighted shortcomings behind the low educational achievement of looked-after children in Wales.

There are currently no national targets for improving the exam results of children in care - and no plans to introduce them. Assembly officials instead agree separate targets with local authorities, and not all of them separately identify such children.

Multiple school moves are also disrupting children's education. Last year more than 15 per cent of youngsters were forced to change schools during their time in care. The figures ranged from 30 per cent in Denbighshire to just 5 per cent in Conwy.

TES Cymru also found that some local authorities have yet to set up government-funded Child Trust Funds for the children in their care.

Campaigners now want to see better independent advocacy and more training to help elected members understand their corporate parenting responsibilities.

Assembly initiatives include that every child should have an education plan, schools a designated teacher; and local authorities should find a school place within 20 days of a placement.

It is also setting up a stakeholders group, which will include young people. But a sea-change in attitudes towards looked-after pupils, and access to the same opportunities as their peers, is also needed for real change.

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