Bradford Council seeks to improve education performance of children in care

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Coun Ralph Berry Coun Ralph Berry

Helping children in Council care succeed in education has been described a “top priority,” as recently released figures show they lag behind other youngsters in the district.

Today Bradford Council’s corporate parenting panel was being shown figures for the educational outcomes of “looked after children” for the past year.

The figures, from last March, show that out of 697 children in Council care, 472 were of school age. Of these, 329 attend school in the district, and the rest go to school outside.

Although in some areas performance of these young people is improving, in almost every case it is lower than for other children in the district.

The report says that a “common feature” of children in Council care is that they have special educational needs. A total of 303 children (64 per cent) are on the ‘SEN continuum’ compared to just 1.9 per cent of Bradford children.

In early years, development is measured against certain criteria including communication and language, physical development, literacy and mathematics.

Across Bradford 49 per cent of children achieved a “good level of development” in these areas, but among the looked after children that figure was just 27.8 per cent.

In personal, social and emotional development, 71 per cent of Bradford’s early years children achieve good levels of progress, compared to 33 per cent of looked after children.

In GCSEs, 53 per cent of pupils achieved five of more A* - C grades, including English and maths, last summer. Among the district’s looked after children that figure was seven per cent.

The committee will hear that recent measures by the council have improved school attendance for looked after children, and work is under way to better monitor their progress.

Coun Ralph Berry, executive member for children’s services at the Council, said: “We are making some great improvements in this area, and we take this as one of the highest priorities. We need to make sure looked after children get the best possible support in their education and that all opportunities are available to them. We’re keeping a very close eye on this, and have increased opportunities through apprenticeships. There have been some very positive changes over the past few years.”

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