Response to The Educational Progress of Looked After Children in England report

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The Fostering Network welcomes the publication of a new report that shows that stable foster care is providing a boost to the educational achievements of children and young people, compared with those who are in need and stay living with troubled families, a new report has revealed.

The Educational Progress of Looked After Children in England: Linking Care and Educational Data, published today, is a joint research project between the School for Policy Studies and Graduate School of Education University of Bristol and the Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education and Education Department, University of Oxford. It has examined the reasons for low educational attainment by secondary school aged young people who live in care in England. The report’s findings include the fact that fostered children make better educational progress than vulnerable children who remain with troubled families, and that the difference amounted to at least six GCSE grades at 16.

Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network said of the report: 'A cornerstone of what The Fostering Network believes is that foster carers who care for children and young people in stable fostering placements can have a profoundly positive effect on their education and life chances. This report has backed up this belief, and we wholeheartedly welcome its publication.

'This report shows that being fostered helps young people to achieve educationally, compared with those left at home in troubled families. This gives a more accurate depiction of achievement, attainment, and is a more positive way of examining these than comparing these young people’s results with those of the general school population. We need to make our headlines positive, we need to show exactly how well care experienced young people can do, and we need to continue to be aspirational for them and passionate advocates with them, and on their behalf.

'The report also confirms what The Fostering Network has been saying with our own research for many years – if you move children between fostering placements unnecessarily, disrupting their education and home life, then they will not fare as well when it comes to educational achievement.

'However, we also know that the attainment gap is still too wide between children in care and the general population. This is why we have been pioneering very specific programmes of work aimed at developing foster carers as first educators such as Fostering Achievement in Northern Ireland, London Fostering Achievement, and our innovative Mockingbird Family Model programme which work to develop relationships between foster carers, young people, and those who work with them.'

The full report, The Educational Progress of Looked After Children in England: Linking Care and Educational Data, is available to download from the Rees Centre website.