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The education of children in care and children in need: who falls behind and when?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Early online date24 Jan 2020
DateAccepted/In press - 23 Aug 2019
DateE-pub ahead of print (current) - 24 Jan 2020


We seek to explain the development of the educational gap between children in ‘out of home care’ (CLA), children deemed in social need (CIN), and other pupils. A cohort of 642,805 pupils aged 16 in 2013 was used to chart the educational progress of the full cohort, the CLA (n = 6,236), the CIN in 2012 or 2013 but not CLA (n = 20,384), and a sample individually matched with the CLA (n =11084). At age 7 attainment of the CLA and CIN was approximately one standard deviation lower than the cohort average and predicted attainment at 16. At this point the persistent ‘CIN’ (those with earlier and persistent needs) had the lowest attainment relative to others and this declined further during secondary school. Those entering care before or during primary school had very low attainment at age 7 but their relative attainment did not decline. Attainment of CLA and CIN at age 16 likely reflects early environment, special educational needs and poor relationships with secondary school. Policy, research and intervention should focus on CIN as well as CLA, do so before entry to care, and take account of the onset of, and probable reasons for, educational difficulties.

    Research areas

  • foster care, education, children in need



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