Responding to the publication of Starting Out Right: Early Education and Looked After Children (Family and Childcare Trust and the University of Oxford), Jackie Sanders, director of communications and public affairs at The Fostering Network, said: ‘This timely report has identified some extremely important issues when it comes to looked after children’s early education – not least that looked after children are less likely to access early education than their peers.
‘Foster carers have a crucial role in raising academic expectations, including among some of the youngest children in their care, and ensuring that those children have every opportunity to access early education. The short-term nature of many foster placements can make this challenging, but education and fostering services must endeavour to ensure that consistency in children’s education is prioritised even during placement moves.
‘The report highlights the need for adequate funding to meet the potentially significant needs of looked after children, and how this could be achieved through the introduction of an Early Years Pupil Premium ‘Plus’. We echo this call and would urge the Government to provide funding which will meet the costs of delivering high quality care and education to looked after children. This is an investment in our society’s future.
‘The Fostering Network’s educational programmes have focused on providing the training and skills that foster carers need in order to play their part as “first educators”, to help raise fostered children’s educational aspirations and outcomes. This report emphasises the importance of this process starting in the early years of education, and we commend its findings and policy implications to the Government, local authorities and foster carers.’