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Children in care homes: Education Committee launches call for written evidence

15 March 2021

The Education Committee has today launched a call for written evidence as part of its inquiry into children’s homes.

The inquiry is examining issues around attainment and employment outcomes for young people in children’s homes, as well as the support available and regulation of the sector. It is part of the Committee’s continuing work examining the issues faced by left behind groups.

Terms of reference

The Committee is inviting written submissions addressing any or all of the following areas:

  • Educational outcomes for children and young people in children’s homes, including attainment and progression to education, employment and training destinations
  • The quality of, and access to, support for children and young people in children’s homes, including support for those with special education needs, and the support available at transition points
  • The use and appropriateness of unregulated provision
  • Rates of criminalisation of children in children’s homes
  • The sufficiency of places in children’s homes, and the regional locations of homes
  • The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, including the extent to which this might increase the numbers of children’s homes places needed
  • The support available for kinship carers, and for children in homes to maintain relationships with their birth families

The deadline for submissions is Friday 23rd April. For further information see the inquiry page on the Committee website.

Chair's comments

Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said:

“With many children in care struggling to achieve good basic qualifications and leavers more likely to end up in prison or on the streets, those in the care system are falling behind every step of the way. As part of the Committee’s unerring focus on supporting disadvantaged groups, this inquiry will get to the bottom of why children and young people living in children’s homes are facing such an uphill struggle to get on in life.

There is also worrying evidence of the consequences of a lack of oversight in some homes. The most basic of rights for a child must be to have somewhere safe to live, where they are not at risk of abuse or preyed on by gangs. We will be examining whether more needs to be done to protect young people in unregulated provision.

Children coming into care will already have had a traumatic start to their lives. We therefore owe it to them to ensure that their homes are safe and secure and that they are given every helping hand to access the ladder of opportunity and succeed in education and beyond.”

Background and statistics

Just 7% of looked-after children achieve a good pass in GCSE English and Maths compared with 40% of non-looked after children, while in the longer-term, around a quarter of both homeless people and those in prison are care-leavers.

Looked-after children are four times more likely to have a special educational need (SEN) than other children. Children aged 16-17 living in children’s homes are 15 times more likely to be criminalised than their peers of the same age.

Ofsted’s figures show that the number of children’s homes continues to increase. There were 2,460 children’s homes in England as at 31 March 2020. This was a net increase of 7% from the same time last year, and follows the patterns of previous years. 

Only 32% of local authorities report that they have access to enough residential homes for children aged 14 to 15 years, and 41% for those aged 16 to 17.

As at March 2020, 80% of children’s homes were rated good or outstanding by Ofsted, but 18% were judged requires improvement, and 2% were judged to be inadequate.

Further information

Image: Marco Wolff from Pixabay