Your coverage of the education of looked-after children highlighted serious concerns and we welcome attention drawn to this area. However, you were provided with the wrong information in relation to Somerset County Council.
Somerset does hold data on test results which is presented to elected members, and I can inform your readers that at least 33 per cent of looked-after-children obtained one A-G grade GCSE pass last year.
There is no complacency here and strenuous efforts are under way to bring the achievement of looked-after children in line with the county targets. For 2003, therefore, we are aiming at 75 per cent gaining one A-G grade GCSE, with 100 per cent securing places in post-16 education, apprenticeships or employment.
There has been growing collaboration between Somerset's education and social services departments to ensure that looked-after children no longer slip through the net. Members of the county council attach the highest priority to this area of development.
A report to the county's Children's Board and Schools' Board has recently defined a number of action plans which will introduce education plans for all looked-after children, joint training between education and social services colleagues, and a package of targets within the education development plan.
The databases of education and social services are being linked, and education within residential provision in the county will be promoted.
Dedicated staff are being appointed within Somerset support services to lead on the education targets. We are also scrutinising exclusions with the aim of reducing them overall (permanent exclusions fell by 20 per cent in 1997-98) and reducing the percentage of looked-after children within the total.
Corporate director, education Chris Davies Corporate director, social services County Hall Taunton Somerset