London’s children in foster care to receive educational boost

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Media release

The launch of London Fostering Achievement, an innovative new programme delivered by The Fostering Network in partnership with Achievement for All aimed at improving educational outcomes for children in foster care, took place at City Hall on Tuesday 14 October.

London Fostering Achievement brings together leaders, foster carers, teachers, young people and the wider professional network to improve educational outcomes for children living with foster families, and it is part of the Mayor’s London Schools Excellence Fund, funded by the Department for Education and the Greater London Authority.

The programme will promote the important role of foster carers as 'first educators' of children in care and more than 2,000 foster carers and teaching staff across London will take part in the innovative and high quality training programme. 

Over the next year, the programme will deliver workshops across the capital for foster carers, school staff, social workers and other professionals. The workshops will support people in working together more closely to improve educational aspiration and achievement for children living with foster families. There will be 10 education champions who will share information and learning from the wider programme and work alongside local support groups to help foster carers feel more confident in supporting the educational needs of children and young people in their care. This will be available in five boroughs across London. 

The programme will work intensively with 27 schools to close the achievement gap between fostered children and their peers, improve behaviour and attendance, and strengthen school relationships with foster carers. We will also be providing masterclasses for foster carers, virtual school heads and other professionals across London covering a range of educational topics.

Children in care traditionally do less well academically than their peers, with only 21 per cent in London achieving five GCSEs including English and Maths compared to a national average of 61 per cent of children in mainstream education.

Lisa Belletty, programme manager for London Fostering Achievement, said: “While the work is already underway, the launch has been a superb opportunity for boroughs to come together with foster carers, young people and ourselves to see how the programme will move forward. We’re very excited about this work, and very optimistic that we can support foster carers and schools in helping children who are in foster care to achieve in education and give them the grounding to create positive futures for themselves.”

Professor Sonia Blandford, Founder and CEO of Achievement for All, said: “Achievement for All is privileged to have been selected by the GLA to deliver London Fostering Achievement. Our aim is to improve aspirations, access and achievement for all looked after children.  My heartfelt thanks to all committed to the project.

“By working together we hope to enable every child in foster care to be the best they can be regardless of background, challenge or need. My heartfelt thanks to all committed to the project.”

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. London Fostering Achievement 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.”

Speakers at the event included president of The Fostering Network, Jim Bond, chief executive of Achievement for All, Sonia Blanford and Caroline Boswell from the Greater London Authority. The event also heard from young ambassadors Zoe Witherington and Zion Zakari, Colleen Gleeson, a foster carer and education champion from Islington and tri-borough virtual head Matthew Blood.

You can find out more details about the programme on 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.