The programme is bringing 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.”
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 Zion Zakari and Zoe Witherington, 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.