Children in care ‘should only attend good or outstanding schools’

children's commissioner

Children in care should only attend ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools, the children’s commissioner warned local authorities this week.

Anne Longfield, children’s commissioner for England, said in her latest Stability Index report that she will be writing to councils where a “significantly lower proportion of children in care are in these schools”.

Longfield said she will be seeking an explanation and a commitment from local authorities to secure better places for children in care.

Her report highlights that these vulnerable children are more likely to experience school instability if their school has a lower Ofsted rating.

One in five children in schools rated as ‘inadequate’ experienced a mid-year school move in 2017-18, compared to just one in 12 children in schools rated ‘outstanding’.

The report states: “The relationship between school instability and school quality is stronger than that which we found last year: rates of school instability have increased slightly among children in schools judged ‘inadequate’, but have decreased slightly among children in schools judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.”

Existing DfE guidance states that ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools should be prioritised when seeking a place for looked-after children in need of a new school.

The guidance says that, unless there are “exceptional evidence-based reasons”, then a looked-after child should never be placed in an ‘inadequate’ school.

With regards to schools that require improvement, evidence should be given that the school is providing high quality support to vulnerable pupil, guidance says.

Last year’s stability index revealed that thousands of looked-after children were being moved mid-year to schools more than 20 miles away from their previous school, leading to hundreds missing a whole term as a result.

Earlier this year, government data showed that GCSE grades among looked-after pupils have fallen while absence rates rose.

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  1. david macaskill

    Children in Care have the right to the same education as everyone else in whatever school they go to. They do not want to isolated as ‘different’ or given special treatment they need like all children stability. The care system does not usually give that and its not a surprise there are significant failings. Schools have policies with regards LAC children, FSM and others but my experience having worked with some of the most vulnerable there are not enough resources available from the LA give give them and even chance. It cant all be based what the school does – thats a small factor.

  2. Unfortunately Anne Longfield has not read the most thorough and recent research on the ‘alleged attainment gap’. You can find it here.

    This is the ‘killer finding’, the huge significance of which is never mentioned, even by EEF itself!

    “The attainment gap is not a problem found only in schools assessed by Ofsted as performing poorly – the gap is as large in schools rated ‘Outstanding’ as it is in schools rated ‘Inadequate’.”

    Why worry about evidence when everybody else, is committed to a false narrative that they are determined to believe. Of course schools vary in effectiveness, but contrary to popular belief this is only a minor factor in the variation in attainment, which is overwhelmingly down to variations in student cognitive ability. When cognitive ability data is available and anyone bothers to check it they always find that all the ‘vulnerable’ groups with low attainment in fact fit this general pattern. The low attainment is almost completely accounted for by lower cognitive ability. The scandal is not that such variations occur, but that well researched, proven approaches to teaching and learning that can significantly raise cognitive ability/general intelligence have been around for decades, but they contradict the ideology of a marketised education system for which ‘knowledge-based’ approaches, which do not raise cognitive ability, are preferred.

  3. My adopted daughter went to an “outstanding” school – it was a disaster. they couldn’t cope with her neurodiversity and she was effectively re-traumatised by their efforts to make her fit in to their “perfect” school. She now attends an “Inadequate” school and is making great progress, because they understand her needs, and the fact that an Ofsted rating is not the sole goal, but that pupil welfare comes first.
    Rather than looking at the Ofsted rating as a measure of whether a school is suitable for LAC and post-LAC children, it should be mandatory for all schools to be attachment-aware and trauma-informed, and for their efficacy at supporting children with attachment needs and trauma backgrounds to be assessed.