Launched by the Minister for Education and Skills, Huw Lewis and the Minister for Health and Social Services, Mark Drakeford, it sets out proposed arrangements to further support the educational attainment of children who are looked after, primarily of compulsory school age but also includes transition to further and higher education.
The aims of the draft strategy are:
- to raise the educational aspirations of children who are looked after and of those who care for them
- to reinforce accountability and leadership across ourselves, local authorities and the education system
- to ensure that education remains a priority even during unsettling periods in a child’s life
- to make better use of data to aid practice, policy making and monitoring or educational outcomes
- to promote and share good practice.
In March 2014, there were more than 5,700 children looked after in Wales. 3,700 of whom were of compulsory school age. Welsh Government data shows that the educational performance of children who are looked after is significantly below that of other mainstream pupils at all Key Stages.
At Key Stage 4 in summer 2013, 53% of pupils achieved Level 2 inclusive – the equivalent figure for children who are looked after is 13%.
In 2014, some 45% of 19 year old care leavers were Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET). From 2007 to 2010, this figure stood at 51%.
The consultation also sets out the Welsh Government’s intention to change the arrangements to support children who are looked after through the Pupil Deprivation Grant. From April 2015 regional education consortia, working with schools and authorities, will be responsible for the delivery of effective support and outcomes for looked after children. Consortia will also have flexibility to support the education of former looked after children who have been adopted.
Huw Lewis said:
“We owe it to all young people to give them the best chance to succeed in life. This is especially true of children that, often for no fault of their own, have found themselves placed in the most challenging of circumstances.
“The improved educational attainment of looked after children is essential. It will though only be possible if education, social services and others collaborate effectively.
“There has to be seamless integration that starts at the highest level of the Welsh Government and which reaches right into the classroom to ensure that each and every looked after child receives effective help and support.
“It is essential that all those whose work, responsibilities and lives brings them into contact with children who are looked after contribute to this national conversation and identify actions to better support these learners.
Professor Drakeford said:
“We are committed to supporting children who are looked after and care leavers to reach their full potential.
“A good education with successful exam results may not prevent children who are looked after from making the wrong life choices, but having a strong foundation in education will stand them in good stead for life and will help open up opportunities and inform better life choices.
“This will only be possible if education services, social services and others work effectively together to ensure all children who are looked after receive help and support which enables them to achieve educational outcomes at least on a par with