Schools Failing Children In Care, Charity Says

The education system is failing to help children in care to break out of a “cycle of disadvantage”, according to the children’s charity Barnado’s. A survey of 66 young people who had spent much of their lives in care showed that just seven of them left school with five or more GCSEs at grade A – C. Fewer than half were currently in training, employment or further education. “The cycle of disadvantage that haunts these children as they grow up shows no sign of being broken as they enter adulthood,” said Martin Narey, chief executive of Barnado’s.

“Our report shows that many looked-after children have academic potential and the desire to work hard and would have liked to succeed in education, but the state, as a parent, fails them terribly. Dreadful GCSE results compound the disadvantages they face and commit them to unemployment and long term disadvantage.”

The young people surveyed had attended an average of five schools; seven in the group had been to more than 10.

“My education broke down completely because of the number of moves I’d had,” said Aravia Pavey, 16, who was placed in care when she was three. “At times, when the authorities decided to move me, it wasn’t even to placements within the same area but to placements based in completely different towns. I never had the chance to settle.

“Whenever I moved schools I received no extra help with catching up. I didn’t have a huge amount of back-up with my education all round.”

School can be a difficult experience for “looked-after” children. Half the group said they had been bullied because they were in care. Forty-one had been excluded from school, for periods between one day and two years.

Some comparisons emerge from a separate poll, also commissioned by the charity, of 500 parents whose children took their GCSEs this year.

While 97% of parents said they praised their child when they did well at school, almost half of the care group said that they had never received such praise. Just four of the latter recalled ever being praised by a teacher.

A DfES spokesperson said: “We all recognise that children in care often underachieve significantly. That’s why we will shortly be publishing a green paper which will include a wide package of reforms designed to improve their academic performance and their life chances.