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SCHOOLS SHOULD HAVE DUTY TO PROMOTE ATTAINMENT FOR LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN

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The National Children's Bureau (NCB) today backed a Local Government ...
The National Children's Bureau (NCB) today backed a Local Government

Association call for schools to be given a statutory duty to promote

the educational attainment of looked after children and young people.

The Children Bill currently places a duty on local authorities to promote

attainment for looked after children, but does not extend this to the

schools where education is delivered. NCB is supporting an amendment to the

Bill, tabled by the LGA, to ensure that schools are also required to take

responsibility for promoting the achievement of looked-after children.

Looked after children face problems in their education at several levels.

New care placements often mean children changing between different schools,

sometimes several times. They are more likely to be excluded from school

than their peers. Less than one in ten looked after children achieve five

GCSE passes or equivalent at grade A-C.

'Many factors affecting attainment for looked after children are under the

control of the school,' says Paul Ennals, NCB chief executive. 'Despite

changes to admissions policies, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that

some schools are resisting accepting looked after children at short notice.

There is also great variability in the quality and availability of support

for this group in schools. Recent NCB research found that looked after

children identify teachers as the most common source of both academic and

pastoral support, but a minority feel that teachers hinder their progress.

'Improving attainment for looked after children requires greater

partnership between local authorities and schools,' explained Mr Ennals. 'We

believe schools will give greater priority to this work, and will

collaborate more fully with partners in local authorities, if there is a

specific duty on them to do so.'

Alison King, chair of the LGA's social affairs and health executive, said:

'The LGA welcomes the Children Bill's c reation of a specific

duty on local authorities to promote the educational achievement of looked

after children. However, the association believes it does not go far enough

in specifying how this is to be achieved and what role schools, as well as

the local authority, have to play in this duty.

'We are seeking an amendment to ensure that schools are also required to

take responsibility for ensuring that looked after children are supported

to reach their full potential at school. We are proposing that each school

governing body appoints a governor with these responsibilities.'

Notes

1. The National Children's Bureau (NCB) is a registered charity which

identifies and promotes the interests and well?being of all children and

young people across every aspect of their lives. NCB advocates the

participation of children and young people in all matters affecting them.

For information on joining NCB, call the Marketing Office on 020 7843 6080.

NCB's web site can be accessed at www.ncb.org.uk

2. For more information on the Taking Care of Education project, visit

http://www.ncb.org.uk/projects/tcoe

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