highlighted the need to improve the education of lookedafterchildren (HMIe and SWSI, 2001). Over the next two years training materials and guidance were issued to assist all those involved in the education of lookedafterchildren. Funding was provided for educational equipment and for pilot projects, and local authorities were asked to prioritise this issue. Attainment statistics remained low and few lookedafterchildren stay on at school. A Ministerial working group in 2005 commissioned further reports to identify „what works‟. This led to the 2007 report „We Can and Must Do Better‟ (Scottish Executive, 2007a). Training and information materials were revised, new guidance issued on subjects such as corporate parenting, the role of the designated senior manager and managing exclusions. The approach was broadened to consider health, care leavers and the home setting. The LookedAfterChildren Strategic Implementation Group, set up by the Scottish Government in 2010, is now leading efforts to implement policy and deliver sustainable improvements in the outcomes for lookedafterchildren.
2.22 Within local authorities, responsibility for achieving improved outcomes for lookedafterchildren is dispersed across departments with the associated risk that this group of vulnerable children may fall between service priorities. This risk may be magnified where agencies have relatively small numbers of lookedafterchildren and care leavers. We reviewed local authorities’ current strategic plans and found that these often made no reference to achieving improved outcomes for their lookedafterchildren, either in education or social care. Education priorities tended to focus on improving the attainment of all pupils and, where pupils with additional learning needs are reported, strategic plans tended to prioritise other groups, for example children with disabilities. Social care priorities for children generally tended to focus on safeguarding issues and containing the costs of the rising numbers children in care. There has been little evidence of focus on care leavers in the priorities of post-16 education, employment, or youth justice. For example, the Welsh Government’s strategy for reducing the numbers of young people who are not in education, employment and training, Skills That Work for Wales 51 , makes no specific
Some criticisms are surely justified: short-term fixes cannot solve overnight more intractable problems; the haste with which the money had to be spent was not a good example of strategic planning; and there is a bitter irony in the apparent lack of consultation with young people, though the need to act swiftly will have contributed to this omission. Nevertheless, the whole exercise arguably had a number of positive outcomes. Firstly, there was considerable capital spend on a neglected aspect of care provision. Secondly, the exercise itself acted as a form of audit of the resource needs to underpin the educationalattainment of lookedafterchildren. Finally, it identified a number of creative uses of funding by some authorities which could be taken up by others. For example, one authority purchased corporate
The first point to make is so simple that it is often overlooked. There is a strong link between attendance at school and attainment. For example, a large scale study of schools in Ohio, USA found significant positive relationships between attendance and attainment, highest in the ninth grade when academic expectations are apparently particularly high (Roby, 2004). Figure 1 below highlights the particular problem of absence from school of childrenlookedafter ‘at home’ in Scotland. Whilst the rate of exclusion from school is significantly high for lookedafterchildren, it is also highest for the at home group. An obvious, if simplistic, conclusion is that concentrating efforts on improving the attendance at school of this group might produce substantial benefits in relation to the average attainment of lookedafterchildren.
4.3.5 The policy context in relation to the educational experience of lookedafterchildren and young people in Scotland has a history of about 10 years, beginning with the commissioning of a detailed review of research (Borland, Pearson, Hill, & Bloomfield, 1998) which in turn helped to inform a highly influential inspection report of provisions for childrenlookedafter away from home (Her Majesty’s Inspectors of Schools and Social Work Services Inspectorate, 2001). These publications prefaced a period of considerable activity aimed at raising awareness among professionals, notably as a result of the formation of networks concerned with the education and the health of lookedafterchildren, the development of materials to support the education of professionals and the publication of self-evaluation indicators for auditing the support arrangements for lookedafterchildren and young people in schools and care settings (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools, 2003). 4.3.6 Current policy is outlined in Lookedafterchildren & young people: We can and must do better 9 , a report structured around five themes - working together, becoming effective lifelong learners, developing into successful and responsible adults, being emotionally and physically healthy, feeling safe and nurtured in a home setting - and outlining a prospectus for development through 19 key actions (Scottish Executive, 2007). Most recently, HMIE has published the report, Count us in: Improving the education of our lookedafterchildren, based on visits conducted in 15 local authorities, Careers Scotland and four voluntary sector agencies (Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Schools, 2008). An appendix to the report highlights nine ‘signposts for improvement’: corporate parenting; partnerships; strategic planning and review; assessing and meeting needs; education placements and curriculum flexibility; participation and advocacy; transitions; home-school links; training and development.
screened closely and schools regularly involved carers/parents and extended family in this process. Designated teachers and others involved with lookedafterchildren kept up-to-date notes of developments in the lives of young people and changes in behaviour patterns at school. Frequent telephone calls were made to keep everyone updated and aware of any actions taken by the school. It was particularly important for schools to let carers/parents and extended family know of any major future changes to school arrangements so that they did not come as a surprise to young people.
SIBLING RELATIONSHIPS FOR LOOKEDAFTERCHILDREN: POTENTIAL CHANGES TO THE LAW This is a complex area, involving several different legal processes, with associated legislation and guidance. Overall, lookedafterchildren have few enforceable rights at present in law in relation to placement and contact with siblings. It is clear that legislative change is needed to enable them to have rights they can vindicate, in order to maintain sibling relationships. We propose the following changes. The current situation and justification for proposed changes are set out in the accompanying paper.
Formal educational outcomes of looked-afterchildren in England are lower compared to their peers not in care. The dominant research and policy discourse positions looked-afterchildren as failing, and links this with the attitudes and behaviour of staff who support these children. Alternative approaches suggest the need to consider more complex factors such as the long-term impact of pre- care experiences and the inherent limitations of substitute care. The Bourdieusian concepts of capital, field and habitus, together with the neo- Bourdieusian notion of institutional habitus, provide a relevant theoretical framework for deepening understanding of mechanisms behind social reproduction. This paper therefore explores the extent to which the role of the care system might be better understood using these theoretical lenses, particularly that of institutional habitus. For the research reported on, twenty-eight education and social care professionals within two local authorities, and two care leavers, took part in individual and group interviews. The findings indicate that a complex set of factors help explain educational outcomes of looked-afterchildren. Staff were keenly aware of the individual needs of the children with whom they worked, and made efforts to balance the socio-emotional needs of the children with their educational needs, within a context in which structural forces resulted in barriers and standardized expectations that impinged upon the work of the staff.
All the potential model covariates were included in the models except for the child’s first language. Model coefficients give the probability of trajectory group membership as odds ratios relative to a reference group. The predominant group is used as the reference group for the low achievement, high achievement, and late decline groups. The late improvement group followed a similar trajectory to the low achievement group during KS1 and KS2, then showed a dramatic improvement in results by KS4 when GCSEs are taken. The question of interest here is, “What factors are related to whether children with poor achievement at KS1 and KS2 improve by the end of KS4?” To answer this question, the low achievement group was used as the reference group for the late improvement group. Model 1: educational stage First Lookedafter
Evidence suggests that there has been a significant change in the demographics of the looked- afterchildren and young people population in the last 5 years. Sites have accommodated increasing numbers of asylum seeking children and young people, a good proportion of which are unaccompanied (UASCYP). There appears to be a lack of appropriate mental health services for UASCYP and furthermore, services are unable to meet the complex needs of this vulnerable group. Young people express concern at the poor quality of accommodation in which some UASCYP are placed and considered that their eligibility and access to support did not match that provided to other care leavers.
The proportion of lookedafterchildren cared for in group settings in Scotland has been falling over a period of many years in comparison with increasing proportions of children living in foster and kinship placements. For example, in 1976, while 36% of lookedafterchildren lived in residential settings, 22% were in foster care. Today, the proportions are about 10% and 30% respectively. This figure is an average, however, and foster care is more common as a placement for younger children, while older children are more likely to be in residential care. About 20% of 12-15 year old lookedafterchildren live in residential settings, compared with less than three percent of 5-11 year olds and a negligible proportion of under-fives. Group settings include residential homes in the community (also called units, young people’s centres or children’s houses), residential schools and secure care (or safe care) settings iii .
The educational content of the PEP should be developed by schools, supported by the school’s Designated Teacher for lookedafterchildren, the relevant local authority, the Virtual School and other education professionals. The Designated Teacher should monitor progress against an individual’s PEP and work with the Virtual School to support their education. The PEP should act as a record of what needs to happen for each lookedafter child to reach their potential and reflect any existing educational plans such as a statement of Special Educational Needs.
Although he does become involved in discussions about the exercise of power, his interest appears to be in the ways in which human beings are made subjects and it is his explanation of this process (which he calls the process of objectification) which is particularly useful in the investigation of the emerging perception of children requiring public care. For Foucault (1982), there were three modes of objectification which transformed human beings into subjects. The first mode occurs through inquiry into human behaviour and existence, seeking to give itself the status of a science, or the emergence of social sciences claiming to have scientific insights into human behaviour/existence. The second mode of objectification involves ‘dividing practices’ whereby the subject or individual is drawn from a rather undifferentiated mass and, through the exercise of social science, becomes classified, confined and contained as a member of a particular group, i.e., the poor, the insane, the vagabond or the ‘lookedafter child’. The final mode is where the individual turns themselves into the subject. This process is particularly useful in illuminating how the LookedAfter Child becomes the subject in terms of classification, control and containment. Foucault (1982) was also interested in the ‘art of government’ and how the state exercised power to govern. One of the key tools in this process, according to Foucault, was ‘normalisation’ whereby, through the exercise of medicine, psychiatry and the social sciences, increasing attention was paid to what is normal and what is not in a given population. The process of ‘normalisation’ served two key purposes to isolate ‘anomalies’ in the social body, which then provided the opportunity to normalise these anomalies through corrective or therapeutic procedures. In Discipline and Punishment, Foucault reflects on modern approaches to control, which turn the individual into a ‘case’ through the process of observation, judgement and examination, which elicits the truth about them and their necessary treatment (Foucault 1991). These ideas will be utilised to illuminate the ways in which children requiring public care are isolated as anomalies, how the truth about them is portrayed and their subsequent treatment justified. The concept of the ‘dominant discourse’ will be utilised to consider how LAC and their treatment are articulated and operationalized through the use of state-approved language and ideas.
vocational qualifications and also introductory courses to acquaint students with college life, develop core skills in literacy, numeracy and IT, and build softer skills in self-presentation, time management and independence. The report pointed out the importance of having skilled staff and providing good continuing professional development opportunities. In relation to lookedafter young people and care leavers the report highlights the importance of collaborating with local authorities to improve the educationalattainment of this group. The principal role of colleges is in assisting young people to gain vocationally relevant qualifications but even for these students, and particularly for some students who have been socially and educationally disadvantaged, there is an equally important function in providing a safe haven in which to form good relationships, to feel happy and to develop personal confidence. This point is supported by evidence from a small study of 700 learners
Ultimately employing organisations are responsible for assuring that their employees have the knowledge, skills and competence to undertake their roles. Organisations can if they wish seek accreditation from a professional body for any programme of study, however they must assure themselves that any externally contracted provider of safeguarding and lookedafterchildren education and training explicitly states how any course or learning opportunity meets the required intercollegiate framework level. Employers must also give consideration to assessing and learning and the long term impact of education and training provided.
The impact of system contact and the potential for young people to be ‘recycled’ through the criminal justice system is supported by findings from the Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime (a longitudinal study on pathways into and out of offending of a large cohort of young people who started secondary school in 1998). In this research, McAra and McVie (2007, p.319) found that ‘selection effects in the youth justice process mean that certain categories of young people – the ‘usual suspects’ – become propelled into a repeat cycle of referral into the system’. Given the issues highlighted regarding the disproportionate contact that lookedafterchildren may have with criminal justice agencies, it is not hard to see how they too may be construed as ‘usual suspects’. Moreover, the further a young person progresses through the system, the greater the difficulty in desisting from offending. This has led McAra and McVie (2007, p.315) to conclude that ‘the key to reducing offending lies in minimal intervention and maximum diversion’.
argue that even taking into account a variety of household characteristics correlated with computer ownership and educational outcomes, there is support for the view that computer ownership is associated with improved educational achievement. They outline an important nuance though that computer ownership does not appear to affect the probability that children ‘get’ any GCSEs, but rath er that it appears to have a positive association with the GCSE levels achieved. In other words, computers cannot redeem a child (and household) who would otherwise have achieved no passes to a point where they will achieve some, rather, if a child is in a position to achieve some GCSEs, having a computer at home may help them enhance their achievement. Given the lack of longitudinal studies which could show the benefits, or otherwise, of home internet access over a long period, it is difficult to be completely clear on the relationship between home internet access and educationalattainment. However, a number of studies provide support for the idea that as long as the computer is used in an at least partly educational manner, real benefits can be seen. An intensive,
community) which works with looked-afterchildren. In addition is director of an organisation, Placement Support, which provides consultancy to organisations (residential homes and agencies) as well as individual carers. Also, provides supervision to colleagues working as consultants to organisations.
This recent legislation is intended to help mitigate issues that lookedafterchildren face in their communities, and to provide opportunities in terms of, for example, access to play, music, leisure activities, sport, health, education and employment. Mooney et al. (2009) identify that, in the promotion of good health, lookedafterchildren and young people need access to positive activities, alongside educational opportunities, security and stability. Equally, Statham and Close (2010:6) indicate that there is a degree of consensus emerging regarding children and young people’s wellbeing ‘and most include domains which relate to their physical, psychological and social wellbeing in one form or another. They also incorporate, to varying degrees, measures of socio-economic and environmental wellbeing such as educationalattainment, economic and material resources, housing and the local environment, quality of school life and access to leisure activities’. This suggests that the influence of their peer group and local cultural values and beliefs can impact on a child’s wellbeing.
High achievement motivation is typically expressed in terms of aspiration to have a professional career and therefore to progress to college or university studies. In such circumstances, it would be usual for an individual to receive every encouragement and support to realise their aspirations. This is also true of lookedafterchildren with uncertain immigration status; however, it is essential that the potential implications of their immigration status are explored in terms of access to college or university courses and funding, accessing specialist advice, as appropriate. Such young people must be helped to understand their options and the consequences of taking particular courses of action.