The ExChange team was pleased to welcome Dr Eran Melkman from the REES Centre for Research in Fostering and Education at Oxford University on the 19th of February. The workshop, Educational trajectories of looked after children across the primary years of schooling, was eagerly anticipated by attendees.
Dr Melkman provided an overview of the research, which highlighted some important statistics at the outset, including:
Over 70,000 children were in care in England in 2016
Of those, over 50,000 (75%) were in foster care
32% of young people were placed outside their area (compared to ~25% in Wales)
When determining the reasons that young people become looked after, 62% were placed due to abuse or neglect. Unfortunately, there is no distinction made between the two in terms of recording the reasons behind placement.
The discussion then turned to educational trajectories and attainment where it was explained that LAC are highly disadvantaged educationally. This is not limited to the UK, but has been found to be the case globally.
On average, LAC are disadvantaged, and over time their academic situation may continue to deteriorate and these conditions are marred by issues including special education needs, behavioral issues and exposure to abuse and neglect.
It was determined that more attention needs to be paid to interventions at pre-school ages in addition to making sure that LAC have access to high quality care prior to attending school. Schools need to be attentive to the needs of LAC and make sure that they are equipped to assist LAC and those who are looked after with special education needs.
The workshop concluded with a discussion about the above and how schools can work to best assist looked after children.
For the presentation, please click here.
For more information on the REES Centre, click here.