Government to double education support funding for children in care

4 October 2013

The new ‘pupil premium plus’ will see funding to support children in care at school increase by £1,000 per pupil. Children will be covered as soon as they enter care (not after 6 months as is currently the case) and will include children adopted from care. Funding will also stretch to those who leave care under a special guardianship order or residence order.

Children in care have previously attracted pupil premium funding at the same rate as children from low-income families, but in future they will attract a higher rate of funding – the pupil premium plus. From April next year, children in care will attract £1,900 additional funding per pupil, more than double the £900 awarded in 2013 to 2014.

Edward Timpson said:

Children in care face unique challenges at school and often struggle to keep up with their peers at both primary and secondary level.

It’s vital that these vulnerable children are given the targeted support they need and the education they deserve to help them get on in life.

Children in care do not perform as well at school as their peers, often not helped by their precare experiences. In 2012:

  • only 50% of children in care achieved the expected level in both English and maths at key stage 2, compared with 79% of non-looked-after children
  • just 15% of children in care achieved 5 A* to C GCSEs or equivalent, including English and maths, compared with 58% of non-looked-after children

‘Virtual school head’

Through the Children and Families Bill, the government is also making it mandatory for every council to have a ‘virtual school head’ – an individual who champions the education of children in care and acts as their overarching head.

The announcement includes plans to extend the role of the virtual school head to work with schools to manage the pupil premium plus and ensure that the money is spent on securing the best educational support and services for children in care. For example, this could include specialist tuition for musically gifted children or one-to-one catch-up sessions.

Further measures

The pupil premium is just one of a series of measures the government has introduced to help children in care achieve at school and get on in life:

  • the NationalCollege for Teaching and Leadership is improving its training programme for school governors to improve the attainment of looked-after children and to work more closely with virtual school heads
  • we are providing all looked-after young people and care leavers aged 16 to 19 who stay in full-time education with a £1,200 bursary to help with the costs of their studies
  • all 2-year-olds in care are now eligible for 15 hours a week early education
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