I’ve become a parent again!!!!
One of the most exciting aspects of my new job is that I intend to take on the role of Education Champion for Looked After and Accommodated Children in East Lothian. The reality of the educational outcomes of this group of children in Scotland is is quite shameful:
- The attendance of children and young people looked after at home was 84.8%, looked after away from home was 91.5% and for all looked after children and young people was 87.9%; compared to an attendance rate of 93.1% for children and young people who were not looked after.
- The exclusion rate per 1000 pupils for children and young people looked after at home was 323, for looked after away from home was 354 and for all looked after children and young people was 339; compared to 53 for those who were not looked after.
- 4.1% of children not looked after left school with no qualifications; this figure increased to 24% where the young person was looked after and accommodated and 41.9% when looked after at home.
It is the responsibility of the local authority to take on the role of Corporate Parent – or as Adam Ingram described it:
“In some ways it’s like having the best bits of being a ‘pushy parent’: ensuring each individual child is having their own needs addressed and truly being looked after. Authorities and agencies can never fully replace a parent, but they can turn around the experiences of children from challenging backgrounds by asking ‘What would I want for my own child?’
I’d like to be that pushy parent and to be joined in that role by every single person who works for East Lothian Council.
When I was a student I worked in a Secure Children’s Home. It was a seminal experience for me and I remember thinking that these kids didn’t have chance. Perhaps I’m now in a position to try to do something about it?
Here are some further details about Looked After and Accommodated Children:
Scotland’s looked after children and young people live in a wide variety of home settings, broadly speaking they fall into the following groups:
- At home with their birth parent(s)
- With friends and relatives of their family
- In foster care
- In a residential unit/children’s unit
- In a residential school
- In secure accommodation
The living environment does appear to have a direct bearing on the educational outcomes of Scotland’s looked after children and young people. Based on the information gathered for the Children’s Social Work Statistics and Scottish Executive National Statistics Publications in relation to educational outcomes, when compared to other looked after children and young people:
- Children and young people who are looked after at home with their parents do least well, as a group, in terms of attendance and achievement when compared to other groups of looked after children and young people.
- Children and young people who are looked after and accommodated in foster care do best, as a group, in terms of attendance and achievement when compared to other groups of looked after children and young people.
- Children and young people who are looked after and accommodated in residential units do least well, as a group, when compared to other groups of looked after and accommodated children and young people.
As at 31st March 2006, there were 12,966 looked after children and young people in Scotland. Of this group:
- 56% were looked after at home by their parents or with other family members or friends and 44% were looked after and accommodated in foster care, residential or secure settings;
- Almost 53% of Scotland’s looked after children and young people are aged under 12 years;
- Just over 64% of children and young people looked after in foster care are aged under 12 years;
- Almost 91% of children and young people looked after and accommodated in a non-secure local authority residential home or unit are aged 12 years or over; and,
- Over 90% of children and young people looked after and accommodated in residential schools are of secondary school age or older.
25% of the prison population were Looked After and Accommodated Children – this figure rises to 50% of the prison population under 25!!!
As a class teacher, I do not necessarily know which pupils are categorised as ‘looked after or accomodated’.
Do you consider that I should be told?
Should it make a difference to how I treat that pupil, if I were to know?
Every school has a ‘named teacher’ for LAC (Looked After Children…a generic term for both Looked After at Home and Looked After and Accommodated). In Primary Schools most often the headteacher although not always, in Secondary often a DHT or PT Guidance/PT Inclusion.
Answer to question in my view…Yes and Yes. Having this information can lead to a more sympathetic approach to more emotional aspects of these children’s lives e.g. Something simple like a child forgetting P.E kit, when that child’s home circumstances mean that they are Looked After (on a supervision order),may mean a more considered response.
I am sure that we all hope and expect that teachers always react in a sympathetic/empathetic way towards all children in their care, but for this most emotionally (and often educationally) vulnerable group it can make a huge difference when key adults respond in a sensitive way.
Researching key theory like ‘Attachment’can also give a huge insight into the difficulties that might have impacted on the emotional development of children,again especially this most vulnerable group.
I just wanted to add that some young people I spoke to for the Enquire conference on transitions in 2007 were Looked After, and, while they wanted teachers to know and to understand the needs they had, they also had some issues with what had happened to them. One girl described how the teachers’ sympathetic responses had included letting her off homework and not pressing her for the answers to questions. In the end, this made her feel they no longer cared how well she was doing, and she stopped trying her best. The young people also felt that being treated differently increased the stigma with their peers – they were called teacher’s pet etc. Clearly this is a complex and subtle question for teachers. The video the young people made is on our blog.
You might find Who Cares Scotland and The Scottish Throughcare and Aftercare Forum useful for information.