This research was funded by DCSF as part of its "Quality Protects" research programme. Quality Protects (QP) was an important government initiative, launched in 1998, to improve outcomes for vulnerable children as well as the management and delivery of children’s services. Our study was concerned with QP measures to improve the school attendance and attainment of looked after children (‘in care’). The research was based in three local authorities and eight residential special schools. We investigated the implementation of QP educational objectives; analysed secondary statistics on the educational progress of looked after children; followed-up a sample of 150 children living in foster homes, children’s homes and residential schools; and analysed the comprehensive costs of services and linked these to outcomes.