Education programme to boost aspirations and achievement for London’s fostered children

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Media release

A new programme aiming to raise the aspirations and achievements of children living with foster families across the capital has been launched by charity the Fostering Network, working in partnership with Achievement for All 3As. London Fostering Achievement is funded by the Mayor of London through the London Schools Excellence Fund.

London Fostering Achievement will aim to develop the confidence and skills of London’s foster carers and support them to work with schools and help the children in their care to achieve the very best in their education. It will look to increase attainment, improve attendance and reduce exclusions amongst the children who are involved in the programme.

The programme will also work with teachers and schools to promote the important role of foster carers as ‘first educators’ of children in care and encourage everyone to work together to enable these children to succeed.

More than 2,000 foster carers and teaching staff across London will take part in the innovative and high quality training programme. Foster carers in five boroughs and staff from 27 schools and nine virtual schools will receive more dedicated and focused support.

Children in care traditionally do less well academically than their peers, with only 20.8 per cent of children in care in London achieving five GCSE’s including English and Maths compared to a national average of 61.3 per cent of children in mainstream education.

Dr Lucy Peake, director of external affairs at the Fostering Network, said: “It is widely accepted that our family can have the biggest influence on our education. For the vast majority of children in care this is their foster carers with whom they live, learn and grow. Foster carers already play a vital role in raising aspirations and supporting children and young people in care. This programme, delivered with a wealth of expertise, will develop the work foster carers already do and push it to the next level so the children in their care achieve the very best they can at school.”

Professor Sonia Blandford, chief executive officer at Achievement for All 3As, said: “It is our belief that every child has the right to be the best that they can be regardless of background, challenge, or need. We hope that through this programme more parents, schools, and carers will be supported in raising the aspirations and achievement of those in they look after. Using a whole child approach, we will work together to improve the wellbeing, resilience, and self-esteem of young people in care.”

The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “We set up the London Schools Excellence Fund to raise standards in teaching and attainment amongst pupils across the capital, regardless of background. The Fostering Network's new programme is going to make a big difference to the lives of children in care, by ensuring they do not fall through the cracks and are nurtured and supported to succeed at school and compete at the very highest levels when they are older.”

For more information on the programme visit the London Fostering Achievement website.

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For more information contact the Fostering Network press office on 020 7620 6425 or email media@fostering.net Follow us on Twitter @fosteringnet

Notes to editors

1.    There are around 10,090 fostered children under the care of London boroughs on any one day.
2.    The Fostering Network estimates that at least 1,025 new foster families are needed across London in 2014 alone. In particular there’s a real need to find foster carers for teenagers and sibling groups. 
3.    The Fostering Network is the leading charity for all those involved in foster care, and exists to make life better for fostered children and the families that care for them.
4.    The Mayor of London Boris Johnson set up the £24m London Schools Excellence Fund to help drive up standards in schools, as part of his mission to ensure young Londoners have access to the highest quality education. The fund, which is part-funded by the Department for Education, will support activities to promote teaching excellence and raise achievement in English, literacy, numeracy and languages, as well as science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects. Further information about the London Schools Excellence Fund is on the website www.london.gov.uk/LondonSchoolsExcellenceFund. For press enquiries about the fund, please email communitydesk@london.gov.uk, or call Ben McKnight on 020 7983 4071. 
5.    London Fostering Achievement will receive funding of £489,719 to deliver training sessions and masterclasses across London, direct work with 27 schools and an Education Champions programme in five boroughs. The programme will run up to October 2015. 
6.    The Achievement for All programme, currently in over 1500 schools provides a school improvement framework tailored to each schools needs delivered in partnership with school leaders, teachers, parents, pupils and support professionals.  It has been developed in collaboration with the sector including the Department for Education.
7.    Achievement for All is a proven approach to improving the reading, writing and maths outcomes for children with SEN.  Recent analysis of the 2011-12 school year demonstrates that vulnerable and disadvantaged pupils, including those identified with special educational needs and disabilities, in schools working with Achievement for All continue to make faster progress in reading, writing and maths than their counterparts in other schools.  Many are making as good or better progress than the national expected levels of progress for all pupils.  This builds on the findings of a two year pilot in 450 schools in England evaluated by the University of Manchester demonstrates significant improvement in SEN pupils progress above that expected for all pupils in reading, writing, maths, behaviour and school attendance https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/standard/publicationDetail/Page1/DFE-RR1760)
8.    Further information can be found at www.afa3as.org.uk
9.    Brian Lamb OBE chair of the 2009 Lamb Inquiry into Parental Confidence in Special Education Needs now chairs Achievement for All 3As, a charity set up to transform the lives of vulnerable children, young people and their families, including those with special educational needs and disabilities, by raising their educational aspirations, access and achievement.   Professor Sonia Blandford who led the pilot is now Chief Executive.