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Raising the aspirations and educational outcomes of looked
after children: a data tool for local authorities
July 2011
2
Content
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The purpose of this data pack (Slide 3)
The policy context (Slides 4 – 5)
Introduction to the matched CLA-NPD dataset (Slide 6)
Attainment of Looked After Children (Slides 7 – 9)
Stability of care placements (Slides 10 – 12)
Looked After Children in schools (Slide 13 – 15)
Progression between Key Stages (Slides 16 – 18)
Looked After Children and their Special Educational Needs (Slides 19 – 25)
Impact of placement stability on exclusion rates (Slides 26 – 27)
Absence rates (Slide 28)
Conclusions (Slide 29)
Next steps and future publications (Slide 30)
Annex: data sources (Slide 31)
The purpose of this data pack
• In December 2010 the Department published figures from a new child level data source on the outcomes of looked after
children. For the first time it is possible to begin to understand the interdependencies of a range of factors that have an impact
on the outcomes of looked after children. This is the third in a series of data packs relating to looked after children. The others
are on children’s homes and adoption.
• This data pack is intended for use by Virtual School Heads (VSHs) and other local authority staff to:
• help gain a deeper understanding of the factors that affect the attainment of looked after children and to train others
• illustrate some key factors, like placement stability, that affect the educational attainment of looked after children, which
should be central to care planning
• inform the strategic and operational decisions taken by VSHs, commissioners, social workers and their managers,
Independent Reviewing Officers, Directors of Children’s Services and Lead Members
3
The policy context (1)
• Improving the educational outcomes of looked after children by narrowing the
gap between their attainment compared to the rest is a priority for the
Government. That is why:
• looked after children are eligible for the Pupil Premium of £430 in 2011-12
• looked after children and care leavers continuing in education or training
post-16 are eligible for the new 16-19 Bursary (Education Maintenance
Allowance replacement)
• care leavers who begin a course of Higher Eduction are entitled to a
Higher Education Bursary of £2,000
• looked after children continue to have priority in being able to attend the
school of their choice
• The Schools White Paper, The Importance of Teaching, gives a clear strategic
role to local authorities in championing the needs of vulnerable children such as
those who are looked after.
• Looked after children are one of the groups included in the Key Performance
Indicators for the Department to narrow the educational attainment gap between
vulnerable children and their peers.
4
The policy context (2)
• Local authorities have a statutory duty under the Children Act (1989) to promote the educational achievement of the
children they look after, regardless of where they are placed.
• One way of fulfilling this duty, which most local authorities have embraced, is by adopting a ‘Virtual School Head’
(VSH) model where there is a single person who is a champion for the educational attainment of looked after children as
if those children attended a single school.
• Evidence from Ofsted inspections of looked after children’s services suggests that this role has played a part in the work
that local authorities have done in recent years to focus on the educational attainment of looked after children.
• Education is an integral part of the care planning process. This includes
requirements for looked after children to have an effective Personal Education
Plan (PEP) and for local authorities to avoid disrupting their education and
training unless this is unavoidable.
5
Improved data matching now tells us much more ...
• Outcomes information was previously derived from the aggregate Outcomes
Indicators (OC2 return) data collection that was completed by local authorities
until 2008/09.
• The Looked After Children – National Pupil Database (NPD) dataset has been
created by matching the SSDA903 data collection on looked after children to
the NPD, the Department’s key data source on attainment, absence and pupil
characteristics. A child’s Unique Pupil Number (UPN) is the main identifier used
in the matching process.
• In 2010, 98% of school-age children looked after continuously for 12 months
or longer had a valid UPN and 95% were successfully matched to the NPD.
• This has enabled us to discontinue the aggregate OC2 return and derive key
information on the outcomes of looked after children from the new child-level
matched (CLA-NPD) dataset.
• We would like to thank local authorities for their recent efforts to improve the
prevalence of UPNs. This has enabled us to provide the rich analysis in this
data pack which can be used to inform and improve the outcomes of looked
after children.
Unless otherwise stated, all figures in this data pack refer to children looked after in England for 12 months or longer at 31
March 2010. Pupil characteristics (e.g. SEN) are taken from the January 2010 School Census. All attainment data and absence
rates refer to the 2009/10 academic year. However, exclusions rates are taken from 2008/09.
6
7
Attainment of LAC has been improving, but the attainment gap between all
pupils and LAC has been gradually widening at Key Stage 4. Attainment and
the gap between all pupils and LAC has been stable at Key Stage 2 over the
same period.
Key Stage 4 performance of looked after children and all pupils: 2006 - 2010
All Pupils 5+ A*-C grades including English & maths
All Pupils 5+ A*-C grades
LAC 5+ A*-C grades including English & maths
LAC 5+ A*-C grades
80
75.3
70
70.0
65.3
Percentage achieving
60
59.0
61.4
53.4
50
45.6
40
46.3
47.6
49.8
30
26.1
20
21.1
10
0
11.8
5.9
2006
13.5
6.9
2007
16.6
8.6
9.8
2008
2009
11.6
2010
8
Attainment gaps remain wide for the two new Key Stage 4 thresholds (the
Basics and the English Baccalaureate). It is encouraging that, as with all pupils,
most LAC who achieved the Basics also achieved three further GCSEs to reach
the 5+ A*-C including English and maths threshold.
Key Stage 4 performance of looked after children and all pupils
80
75.3
Looked After Children
All Pupils
70
60
% achieving
53.8
53.4
50
40
26.1
30
20
15.6
13.7
11.6
10
1.0
0
5+ A*-C grades
The Basics
5+ A*-C grades including
English & maths
English Baccalaureate
The Basics covers achievement (A*-C grades) in both English and mathematics
GCSEs. The English Baccalaureate covers achievement (A*-C grades) in five
separate GCSEs: English, mathematics, sciences, a language and a humanities
subject.
Slides 7 and 8 show that in spite of the improvements in the educational outcomes
of looked after children made in recent years there is still a long way to go, especially
in relation to achievement in the Basics (English and maths GCSEs).
But evidence from the evaluation of the impact of the Department’s one-to-one tuition
programme showed that:
• At Key Stage 2, looked after children who received tuition outperformed other
looked after children and all pupils who were below Level 2 at Key Stage 1
• For pupils who fell behind later on at Key Stage 2, tuition appears to have been
more effective at helping looked after children keep up with their peers
• At Key Stage 4, looked after children who received tuition outperformed other
looked after children and all pupils who were below Level 5 at Key Stage 3
• For pupils who fell behind later on at Key Stage 4, tuition appears to have been
more effective at helping looked after children keep up with their peers and, in
terms of progression, looked after children who received tuition outperformed
their peers
9
10
Placement stability is closely correlated with attainment. LAC in a single
placement during their period of care (left hand chart) or a single placement
during the year (right hand chart) perform considerably better at 5+ A*-C grades
at Key Stage 4 than those with two or more placements …
Key Stage 4 attainment for looked after children by stability in period of care
Key Stage 4 attainment for looked after children by placement stability in year
35
45
30
35
30
25
20
38.6
15
29.8
22.5
10
14.5
5
0
Percentage achieving 5+ A*-C grades
Percentage achieving 5+ A*-C grades
40
25
20
15
31.9
10
16.5
18.2
5
8.2
0
1
2
3
Number of placements during period of care
More than 3
1
2
3
Number of placements in year
More than 3
11
… and a similar relationship is evident when comparing Key Stage 4 attainment
by the length of time in care. LAC in long-term care perform better than their
peers.
Key Stage 4 performance by length of time in care
70
65.0
62.3
60
55.8
55.1
5+ GCSEs at grades A*-G
51.2
5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C
Percentage achieving
50
44.0
5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C
including English & mathematics
40.7
40
30.0
30
33.4
28.4
25.0
20.5
20
10
31.9
8.4
0
12-18 months
18.6
16.4
9.0
10.2
18 months - 2
years
2 - 3 years
11.6
3 - 4 years
Length of time in care
13.8
4 - 5 years
5 - 6 years
15.0
6 years or more
Slide 10 tells a powerful story about the correlation between placement stability and attainment. Similarly, Slide 11
presents new evidence on the relationship between length of time in care and attainment.
Children who have had more placement moves within the most recent care episode are less likely to achieve than those
who have had a single placement.
This highlights important implications for the way in which placements are planned. Local authorities need to make the
right placement initially based on the child’s needs and avoid disrupting a child’s educational placement unless there is a
good reason. Placement moves should never be made purely to save money.
Key questions for local authorities:
• Is enough account taken of the impact of placement moves on educational attainment?
• In particular, what measures are you taking to avoid, unless absolutely necessary, placement moves when looked after
children are studying for their GCSEs?
• What more could social workers, commissioners, Virtual School Heads, fostering services and others do to improve and
support placement stability?
12
13
It is important that LAC go to a school that will meet their assessed needs. A
greater proportion of LAC are in the lowest attaining schools, compared to all
pupils, at both primary and secondary. Looked after children at both Key Stage
2 and Key Stage 4 are more likely to be in schools achieving below the KS2
and KS4 floor standards, thereby affecting their chances of success.
Proportions of pupils attending maintained mainstream schools below KS2 or KS4
floor targets
20
% in schools below floor targets
Looked After Children
All pupils
15
10
5
0
Key Stage 2
Key Stage 4
Maintained mainstream schools are assessed against a set of floor standards at
Key Stages 2 and 4. The standards are based on overall attainment at the end of
the Key Stage, and pupil progress in mathematics and English over the course of
Key Stages 1 – 2 for primary schools, and Key Stages 2 – 4 for secondary schools.
14
Around one third of LAC are in special schools and other educational
placements where attainment is much lower than average. Key Stage 4
attainment in maintained mainstream schools is much better than the average
for all looked after children.
Key Stage 4 performance by school type
50
45.3
5+ A*-C grades
5+ A*-C grades including English and mathematics
% LAC achieving threshold
40
30
26.1
20.1
20
11.6
10
1.6
0.3
2.2
1.3
0
All maintained mainstream
All special schools
School type
All other educational
placements
All Looked After Children
Maintained mainstream schools include; academies, community schools, voluntary aided
schools, voluntary controlled schools, foundation schools and city technology colleges.
Special schools include; community special schools, foundation special schools and nonmaintained special schools. All other educational placements include; pupil referral units,
unclassified placements, independent schools (including independent schools approved to
take SEN pupils), further education sector colleges and community hospital schools.
Slide 13 shows that looked after children are much more likely to be in the lowest
attaining schools.
Social workers and VSHs should think carefully before moving a child from a settled
school placement simply because their school is performing below the floor standard.
Where an educational placement move is necessary (e.g. age 11) placing looked
after children in schools below the floor standard should be avoided.
We would expect achievement in special schools to be considerably below the
average for all looked after children (see Slide 14). However, the achievement of
looked after children in ‘other educational’ placements is a cause of concern and
underlines the need for them to be placed in good mainstream schools.
Key questions for local authorities:
• Where a new educational placement is needed do you make sure you know the
attainment levels of the schools where you are seeking to place?
• Would you send your own child to the school placement you are considering for
a looked after child?
• Is placing a child in a ‘non-mainstream’ educational setting really meeting their
assessed needs and, if not, are you getting value for money from the provider?
15
16
There is a very strong relationship between performance in English and
mathematics at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 for both LAC and all pupils.
These patterns are repeated for English. This demonstrates that achievement in
the early stages of education is vital to succeeding in later life …
Progression between Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 in mathematics for looked after
children and all pupils
Working towards Level 1 or Level 1
Level 2C
Level 2B
Level 2A
% achieving Level 4 or above at Key Stage 2
mathematics
100
80
60
40
20
0
Looked After Children
Key Stage 1 attainment in mathematics
All Pupils
Level 3
17
… However, the proportion of looked after children making the expected level of
progress between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 is much lower than for all
pupils.
Looked after children and all pupils making the expected level of progression
between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4
% making expected level of progress between Key Stage 2
and Key Stage 4
Looked After Children
All Pupils
69.3
70
62.0
60
50
40
38.8
31.5
30
20
10
0
English
mathematics
The methodology for calculating the ‘expected level’ of progression between Key Stage 2
and Key Stage 4 is summarised on Page 5 of the relevant Statistical First Release for all
pupils at www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s001010/index.shtml
18
Slide 16 shows that, though looked after children progress from a lower baseline,
the pattern of progression between Key Stages 1 and 2 is similar to that of other
children. Slide 17 shows that looked after children are less likely than their peers to
make the expected level of progress between Key Stages 2 and 4.
Key questions for local authorities:
If achievement of the expected levels of attainment in earlier Key Stages lays the
foundations for achievement later on, what more can local authorities do to:
●
• support the work of Virtual School Heads and their equivalents so that they
know the levels of attainment of all the children looked after by the authority
and can deploy resource where it is most needed?
• work with schools to meet the needs of individual looked after pupils in order
to get the most out of the Government’s new Pupil Premium?
• make more use of one-to-one tuition?
• give carers the training and confidence needed to support achievement in
English and maths, for example, by using the Booktrust’s Letterbox Club
scheme?
19
There are increasing proportions of LAC with identified Special Educational
Needs (SEN), especially those with more severe needs (School Action Plus and
statements). 73% of LAC were identified with SEN in 2010, compared to 64% in
2006.
Breakdown of provision of SEN for looked after children: 2006 - 2010
40
35.9
34.4
30.8
25.7
29.5
29.8
29.9
Percentage breakdown
30
25.8
28.4
29.1
27.4
26.3
24.1
20
24.8
22.2
16.0
15.8
14.8
14.7
14.4
No SEN
10
School Action
School Action Plus
Statement
0
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
21% of all pupils were identified with SEN in 2010 (2.7% of all pupils had a statement of SEN
whilst 18.2% of all pupils were at School Action or School Action Plus)
20
The proportion of LAC with statements of SEN varies by their primary need.
Unsurprisingly, LAC with disability as their primary need are the most likely to
have a statement. This highlights some of the complex needs that will affect the
outcomes of many LAC.
SEN provision by primary category of need for looked after children
100%
Breakdown of
primary need of LAC
in matched dataset
Child’s disability – 3%
Parental Illness or disability
– 5%
Family in acute stress – 9%
Family dysfunction – 10%
Socially Unacceptable
Behaviour – 1%
Low income – 0.2%
Percentage breakdown
Abuse or neglect – 67%
80%
Statement
60%
School Action
Plus
School Action
40%
No SEN
20%
Absent Parenting – 5%
0%
Abuse or
neglect
Child’s
Disability
Parental
illness or
disability
Family in
acute stress
Family
dysfunction
Socially
Unacceptable
Behaviour
Primary category of need
Low income
Absent
Parenting
21
Primary SEN type varies by age for LAC along the same lines as all pupils. A
higher proportion of older LAC have a primary SEN type of behaviour,
emotional and social difficulties. In contrast, fewer older LAC have a specific
learning difficulty as their primary SEN type.
Breakdown of primary SEN type of looked after children by age
60%
Percentage breakdown
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
Age at start of academic year
12
13
14
Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Behaviour, Emotional & Social Difficulties
Hearing, Visual or Multi-Sensory Impairments
Moderate, Severe or Profound & Multiple Learning Difficulty
Other Difficulty/Disability
Physical Disability
Speech, Language and Communications Needs
Specific Learning Difficulty
15
22
The number of placements during each period of care varies by primary SEN
type. LAC with behavioural difficulties have more placements, whilst LAC with
physical disabilities are more likely to have stable placements.
Breakdown of primary SEN type of looked after children by number of placements
1 placement
2 placement
3 placement
More than 3 placements
100%
Percentage breakdown
90%
80%
70%
60%
50%
40%
30%
20%
10%
0%
Autistic Spectrum
Behaviour,
Hearing, Visual or Moderate, Severe
Other
Physical Disability
Speech,
Disorder
Emotional & Social Multi-Sensory
or Profound &
Difficulty/Disability
Language and
Difficulties
Impairments
Multiple Learning
Communications
Difficulty
Needs
Specific Learning
Difficulty
23
Looked after children with SEN do not achieve as well as all children with SEN.
However for children at School Action Plus there is very little difference in the
achievement of LAC and all children.
Key Stage 4 performance of pupils at School
Action
Key Stage 4 performance of all pupils with SEN
46.9
50
40
30
28.9
LAC
20.4
20
All
10.6
10
0
5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C
Percentage achieving
Percentage achieving
60
50
10
0
LAC
16.3
20
17.0
10
0
5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C
5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C
including English & maths
5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C
including English & maths
Key Stage 4 performance of pupils with a
statement of SEN
41.2
30
LAC
All
14.6
20
5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C
All
Percentage achieving
Percentage achieving
40
25.8
30
5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C
including English & maths
60
38.2
45.6
40
Key Stage 4 performance of pupils at School
Action Plus
50
57.2
60
60
50
40
LAC
30
20
20.2
All
11.2
10
2.8
7.3
0
5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C
5+ GCSEs at grades A*-C
including English & maths
24
Slide 19 shows that an increasing proportion of looked after children are being
identified with more severe special educational needs (i.e. requiring a statement or
at School Action Plus).
Slide 21 shows that behaviour, emotional and social difficulties (BESD) is by far the
largest primary SEN type among looked after children and is also more prevalent in
older looked after children. Younger looked after children show more specific
learning difficulties.
Slide 22 presents the unsurprising link between BESD and looked after children
who have had multiple placements in each period of care. But it is not so clear
what is cause and what is effect.
Having SEN should never be seen as a barrier to progression. Good identification
along with appropriate intervention is key to improving achievement levels.
Key questions for local authorities:
• What mechanisms do you have in place to ensure that children who
have/may have SEN are being appropriately assessed without delay?
• How can you best achieve placement stability for LAC with BESD?
25
Key questions for local authorities (continued):
• Are you using the Strengths & Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) as a tool to
support care and educational placement decisions?
• What are you doing to ensure that Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services
(CAMHS) are being appropriately accessed?
• What more could you do to help carers and teachers support looked after
children with SEN, especially those with BESD, and those accessing CAMHS?
26
Exclusion from school is also strongly linked to placement stability, with LAC
having a higher incidence of exclusion where there has been more than one
placement in the year.
Prevalence of exclusions from school for looked after children in 2008-09 by
placement stability
Percentage of LAC school population
permanently excluded
1.4
1.2
1.0
0.8
1.2
0.6
0.4
0.2
1.3
0.7
0.4
0.3
0.0
All Looked After
Children
1
2
Number of placements in year
3
more than 3
27
Slide 26 provides valuable information about the relationship between being
permanently excluded and placement stability.
As with placement stability and attainment, there are important questions for
social workers, fostering services and VSHs. In particular, how they work with
and support carers and schools to understand the cause and effect in order to,
where possible, reduce the level of permanent exclusions.
Questions for local authorities:
• Do you have mechanisms in place that identify at an early stage looked
after children who may be at risk of being excluded?
• For those at risk, are you offering support to carers and schools to
minimise the risks of school and placement breakdown?
• Where exclusion is unavoidable, what arrangements for education are
you putting in place from the first day following the permanent exclusion?
• What support is given to carers to help them manage the period of
exclusion?
• What support is given to the child to help them manage their behaviour?
28
Overall absence rates are actually lower for LAC than for all pupils (although
unauthorised absence is noticeably higher). Children in Need, of whom around
20% are also LAC, show much higher absence rates. This suggests that good
care has a relatively stabilising effect on a child’s education.
Comparison of absence rates from school for different cohorts of children
% of sessions from school missed through absence
12
10
Unauthorised absence
3.6
Authorised absence
8
6
1.0
1.5
4
7.3
5.0
4.2
2
0
All children
Looked After Children
Children in Need
Children in Need (CIN) figures are for all CIN at 31 March 2010 and are derived
from the matched CIN-NPD dataset. CIN figures include all CLA at 31 March 2010.
Conclusions
• The new child level dataset provides a powerful source of hard evidence
which local authorities can use to inform their planning of services for looked
after children
• Key messages from this pack for local authorities to consider in fulfilling the
duty placed on them to promote the educational achievement of the children
they look after are that:
placement stability is a key factor in helping looked after children to
succeed
●
looked after children with SEN have poorer outcomes than all children
with SEN and more needs to be done to support them
●
looked after children make progress if given support such as one-to-one
tuition. How can use of the Pupil Premium support this?
●
looked after children are disproportionately represented in schools that
are below floor standards and when making school placements social
workers, as corporate parents, should consider if such a school best
meets the child’s needs
●
29
Next steps and future publications
• This data pack emphasises some of the complex challenges that are faced by
looked after children in England.
• Local partners can apply this national picture to their local populations to be
clearer on some of the reasons why looked after children struggle to achieve
the outcomes of their peers.
• This data pack only provides a flavour of some of the analysis that can be
provided using the new matched dataset. We would be grateful for feedback on
other areas that would be useful to explore.
• Please send any ideas for further analysis that we may be able to include in
future publications to [email protected]
• For policy questions please contact [email protected] or
[email protected]
• Outcomes data for looked after children in 2009-10 was published in a SFR at
www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000978/index.shtml Outcomes
data for 2010-11 will be published in December 2011.
30
Annex: data sources
31
• All outcomes information for looked after children is derived from the
matched CLA-NPD dataset.
• Much of the comparative data for all children are included in the outcomes
SFR at www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000978/index.shtml
• Key Stage 4 information (Slides 7 and 8) is derived from “GCSE and
Equivalent Results in England, 2009/10 (Revised)” at
www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000985/index.shtml
• Key Stage 1 – 2 progression (Slide 16) is derived from “National Curriculum
Assessments at Key Stage 2 in England 2009/10 (Revised)” at
www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000975/index.shtml
• Key Stage 2 – 4 progression (Slide 17) is derived from “Pupils Making
Expected Progress between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 in England: 2007/08
– 2009/10” at www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s001010/index.shtml
• Key Stage 4 attainment by SEN (Slide 23) is derived from “GCSE and
Equivalent Attainment by Pupil Characteristics in England, 2009/10” at
www.education.gov.uk/rsgateway/DB/SFR/s000977/index.shtml
The adoption and special guardianship data pack is published at
www.education.gov.uk/childrenandyoungpeople/families/adoption/a0076713/datapack
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