Importance Of Looked After Children And Education

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This dissertation has used a historical timeline of Governmental changes to policies and laws as a background to describe the evolving importance of looked after children and education. This framework was chosen because of the amount of changes to policy and law and to clarify in more detail how they connected to corresponding law and policy.

Prior to the mid 1980’s very little research was conducted surrounding looked after children and education (Jackson and Martin, 2002). Essen, Lambert and Head (1976) found that looked after children performed poorly in comparison with the rest of the population DATA. Over the last twenty years, various Government’s have focused on the importance for looked after children and their education, and a need to ensure its priority within assessment, schools and the wider environment.

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The aim of this literature review is to discover why the majority of looked after children still do not access tertiary education, even though their deficit in this area has been well known for many years. The dissertation will focus on specific areas for example:

Looked after children and education

Looked after children and access to tertiary education

The role of the social worker with respect to looked after children and their progression through education

International comparison

Does the nature/ or experience of placement for looked after children have an effect on their likeliness to progress to tertiary education?

Finally what social work can do to actively promote education for looked after children.

The 1989 Children Act guidance required Local Authorities to provide educational opportunities for looked after children and support, and that this must be included in their care plan (Goddard, 2000). In 1994 the Department of Health and Department of Education additionally stressed the importance of co-operation between schools, social services and Local Authorities. Yet, in 1995 these measures to promote education for looked after children were found to have made little difference (Social services Inspectorate and the Office for Standards in Education, 1995).

In response the Government set specific targets for Local Authorities with respect to education alongside a requirement to publish guidance on the education as per that from the Department for Education and Employment and the Department of Health, 2000. This ensured all local authorities were working towards the same goal and by the same guidelines. As well as introducing new guidelines for teachers, designated to support looked after children and each looked after child was given a personal education plan (PEP). Another part of the target was to ensure that no placement was given before an educational placement could be secured. The amended Children Act 2004 implemented new duties promoting the educational achievement of looked after children. The schools however are only expected to take a proactive approach to the education of looked after children and coordinating with different departments there is only an expectation.

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