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SPOTLIGHT ON EDUCATION OF CHILDREN IN CARE WITH LAUNCH OF SOCIAL EXCLUSION UNIT CONSULTATION

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The Social Exclusion Unit today announced a major consultation to find ways of raising the educational achievement ...
The Social Exclusion Unit today announced a major consultation to find ways of raising the educational achievement of children in care.
More than two-thirds of children in care leave care at 16 with no
qualifications at all compared to only six percent of all children;
less than one in 20 obtained five good GCSE passes compared with
nearly half of all children.
Visiting St Augustine's CE school in Kilburn, north London, today,
health minister Jacqui Smith said:
'We know that doing badly at school has a major impact on these
children's chances later in life and we must do more to see that they
get the same educational opportunities that we would expect for our
own children.
'That's why I'm delighted that the Social Exclusion Unit will be
consulting widely on the issue so that we can get to the bottom of
the problem and come up with recommendations that will make a real
difference.
'We are determined that children in care should have the same life
chance opportunities as other children. This is a central theme of
the government's Quality Protects Programme.'
Baroness Ashton, minister for early years and school standards,
commented:
'The government is very committed to raising education standards for
children in public care. I welcome the Social Exclusion Unit study
which will help to build on the initiatives already in place to
ensure that young people and children in public care are able to
fulfil their potential.'
The government introduced Quality Protects to overhaul children's
services as a whole as well as issuing specific guidance on the
education of young people and children in public care. The SEU's
project will build on these existing policies. Key features of the
guidance include:
* Personal education plans for all young people in care
* Designated teachers to be a resource and advocate for children
in public care in school
* Information sharing between schools, local education authorities
and social services
Care leavers are significantly more likely to be socially excluded in
later life. For example:
* Children in care are ten times more likely to be excluded from
school
* A quarter of all prisoners have been in care
* Up to a third of rough sleepers have been in care
* Children in care are two-and-a-half times more likely to become
teenage parents
The Social Exclusion Unit's consultation takes in social services
departments, education authorities, schools, carers, young people in
care, care leavers, children's charities, business and anyone else
with an interest in the topic.
As well as the formal consultation, the Social Exclusion Unit project
team is carrying out six in-depth studies of particular local
authority areas alongside a series of visits to projects to help
identify best practice.
Barbara Roche, minister of state at the cabinet office, said:
'The government is committed to creating opportunities for our most
vulnerable young people to thrive in childhood and succeed in adult
life. The Social Exclusion Unit's project has a key role to play in
helping us to achieve this ambition.
'By carrying out such in-depth research and consultation, the SEU's
policy recommendations are based on solid evidence and involve people
with direct experience of the issues in the project.'
The consultation document can be downloaded from the Social Exclusion
Unit websiteor contact Jamil
Mohammed on 020 7276 2118 for a copy. The closing date for the
consultation is 26 October.
The final report will be published in 2002.
NOTES
1. The Social Exclusion Unit is part of the office of the deputy
prime minister in the Cabinet Office. In addition to the project
on children in care and education, the unit's current work
programme is focusing on three further topics - young runaways,
transport and social exclusion and reducing re-offending among
ex-prisoners.
2. The Social Exclusion Unit's past reports are: Rough Sleeping,
Teenage Pregnancy, Bridging the Gap: 16-18 Year Olds not in
Education, Training or Employment and Truancy and School
Exclusions. The SEU published A New Commitment to Neighbourhood
Renewal: National Strategy for Neighbourhood Renewal in January
2001. This set out new policies on improving life in England's
most deprived neighbourhoods.
3. The SEU's most recent publication is called Preventing Social
Exclusion. This sets out the Government's approach to tackling
social exclusion and outlines delivery of results on the ground.
All SEU reports can be downloaded from the website:
www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/seu.
4. Launched in September 1998, Quality Protects is the
Government's five year programme designed to transform the
management and delivery of children's social services.
5. As part of the Quality Protects programme, joint Department of
Health and Department for Education and Skills guidance on the
education of young people in public care was launched in May 2000.
Key features include personal education plans, designated
teachers, improving co-ordination between services and introducing
tighter timetables for placing children in care in schools. A team
of Education Protects Implementation Advisers have been appointed
by DfES and DoH to support local authorities in implementing the
guidance.
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