Today the Scottish Government released figures showing educational outcomes for looked after children in Scotland during 2016-17. The figures show that the gap between looked after children, especially fostered children, and all school leavers is closing significantly (the gap was 45 per cent in 2009-10 and 17 per cent in 2016-17); and that stability of relationships is directly linked to educational outcomes.
Responding to the figures Sara Lurie, director of The Fostering Network in Scotland, said: ‘We are very pleased to see how much the gap in educational outcomes has closed over the last few years. There is still, of course, work to be done but these figures really are moving in the right direction and reflect years of targeted hard work by looked after young people, foster carers, social worker and educationalists.
‘The figures show that looked after children with the most positive outcomes are in foster care, and this reflects what is already well known – that foster care is a protective factor, that foster carers have a vital role to play as first educators and that a secure family environment, with foster carers who prioritise education, gives young people every opportunity to flourish educationally. This can be seen in the very high school attendance figures for fostered young people (higher, indeed, than the all school pupils figure) and the significant difference in outcomes between looked after children who had one placement and those who had more.
‘For young people in foster care, stability of relationships is absolutely crucial to every aspect their development – not just their educational outcomes. There must be an ongoing prioritisation of stability, including minimising fostering placement moves, reducing school moves including those prompted by a school exclusion (of which the rate is much higher for looked after children) and ensuring consistent social work support.’