Written evidence submitted by Career Matters

28th April 2021

Education Select Committee – Children’s Homes Inquiry

Re: Education outcomes and destinations of children in residential care


Career Matters Background: 

Career Matters[1] is a career development, recruitment, and technology social enterprise established in 2016.  We are a committed to facilitating innovation and social mobility through career projects - collaborating with education establishments, employers and designing digital solutions.      

Career Matters Advisory Board brings significant experience across social care, education, apprenticeships, health, diversity and inclusion and recruitment.  Our ambassadors board is represented by people with 100 % lived experience.  

To date, Project Thrive has engaged with 350 employers; 4000+ care leavers; central/local government, including the Department for Education; Ofsted; and charitable, social enterprise and community groups to explore barriers to employment for care leavers and to design an innovative solution to improve opportunities. 

Our career coaching service and our technology platform Thrive[2] supports children in care and care leavers to explore their career options and progress into fulfilling and successful futures.  Our work is an evidence-based and solution-focused approach to improve the current destinations, career opportunities and career outcomes for children in care and care leavers. 

Career Matters actively campaigns and develops solutions to support children in care and care leavers across education, training and employment.  We are a member of the National Care Leaver Consultative Forum for Ofsted which meets to support the children’s social care focus and provide support for the lived experience voices to be heard. 

Our team are in regular communication with the Department for Education and met with the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Children and Families Vicky Ford MP in February 2021.      



Project Thrive and its research and development activities over the past four years has looked in great detail at the public data available for children in care and care leavers across all areas of their life, including education, health, career options, IAG support and mental health.  High quality data and real-time insight has the potential to positively impact children’s social care and education outcomes and achievement. 


Career Education, Information, Advice and Guidance (CEIAG)

We are committed to ensuring that all children and young people in care receive careers education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) from a level 6 qualified professional who can support them in exploring their hopes for the future and how to achieve them.  Our research shows that many children in residential care do not receive any career guidance support from an appropriately qualified career practitioner.  This will, in part, explain why such a high proportion of care leavers become classified as not in education employment or training (NEET).

The Education Act 2011, Section 42A[3] makes provision for all children to receive IAG from a level 6 qualified career guidance professional.  Through our work we know that a high percentage of young people in care do not receive their statutory entitlement.   

The Ofsted Education Inspection Framework for schools includes CEIAG inspection but this does not appear to filter to The Children’s Homes Regulations 2015[4] and the Children’s Act 1989[5] under which Ofsted regulates placements required to offer education or training for children in care and care leavers.  The Ofsted Education Inspection Framework regulates schools on career, education, information, advice and guidance (CEIAG) and therefore could adapt and apply this inspection framework across wider inspections.  This would provide a fair basis and ensure the critical professional support is given and certainly improve outcomes.  Children in care inevitably face many challenges and failure to offer them even their minimum entitlement in this regard compounds their difficulties. 

Quality career guidance supports young people with identifying their skills and interests and how to align them with a suitable career pathway.  The simple act of ensuring career guidance is given at the right time would radically improve the economic outcomes of these young people.  Furthermore, it would be cost effective. Many care leavers do not, through no fault of their own, contribute to the economic well-being of our economy. In fact, the reality is that our continued failure to provide these children with the help and support that they need contributes to their becoming an economic burden on society given the disproportionate numbers of care leavers who, as adults, are represented in data shown in the section ‘Destination and Outcomes’ below. 

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 makes provision for Personal Adviser (PA) support up to the age of 25 years old.  The PA role does not have a professional requirement to be level 6 qualified.     

Some of the reasons for children in care and care leavers not receiving CEIAG -


Destinations and Outcomes

The destinations and education/career progression of children in care and care leavers is worryingly low.  The talent capitalisation potential of this group is not being realised – we know given the right support these young people can go onto successful futures in society. 

Assessment and intervention

It is critical that children in care receive education suited to their academic needs and any wider support adaptations for specific learning difficulties (Spld), special educational needs, disabilities (SEND), adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and mental health.  Too often mental health and SEND is overlooked and not identifiedA child receiving early identification and specialist intervention is given the tools to thrive and the ability to engage in education which is an asset that will enable them to be a fully integrated and active member of society.

Children and young people who have been in local authority care are often labelled as having social, emotional and mental health difficulties without a full assessment from the health sector and educational psychologists.  Frequently, we support care leavers to access educational psychology support assessments in later life and a diagnosis is identified.  The reason for non or late diagnosis is often due to multiple moves which place the young person at the bottom of the waiting list in education or health in the new geographical area that they are placed into.  These identified young people should be prioritised by services.  The scientific evidence shows that the impact of Adverse Childhood experiences (ACEs)[6] on the children we support is life-long.  The benefits of early identification through assessments and therapeutic support for both the individual and society are significant.        

Career Matters Recommendations to improve destinations and outcomes for children in care and care leavers

  1. Children in care should receive career planning, person-centred guidance and pathways support based on their individual needs in KS3 and KS4 – increasing in support when approaching Option choices and GCSE, choosing post 16 provision, leaving care and ongoing into a professional pathway. 
  2. National Career Offer for Children in Care and Care Leavers - A structured programme, commitment, national offer to each child
  3. The Education Act 2011 places a statutory duty on education provision to provide career education, information, advice and guidance from an ‘impartial’ Level 6 qualified career guidance practitioner- this ‘right’ does not appear to be being implemented to those off roll, or in crisis with mental health or other circumstances affecting their school attendance. 
  4. 10 year plan for Education, Health and Social Care NHS 10 year plan[7] is in progress, FED[8] movement is gaining momentum and there now needs to be a focus on childrens social care which can be complemented by the plans outlined in the integration and Innovation[9] paper supporting the proposed Health and Care Bill.   
  5. The Role of Anchor Institutions[10] - NHS, Local Authorities and Schools.


Employment Outcomes

The education outcomes for children in care and care leavers need to be reviewed alongside the career outcomes and destinations when they leave statutory education.  In recent years the support across Higher Education has been increasingProgress is not being made in the Apprenticeship space with only 2% of care leavers going into apprenticeships.  The reasons are many and the barriers include apprenticeship hourly pay rates which prevent children living independently from participating.  Career Matters will be publishing our Impact Report in August 2021 highlighting our findings on vocational pathways, career destinations and the impact of digital technology to support children in care and care leavers  


Career Matters Existing Commitment to Improve Destination Outcomes



Our team welcome the Education Select Committee Inquiry into Children’s Homes and the education outcomes and destinations of children in care and care leavers.    We, society, are failing our children in care and particularly those in residential care, let alone those in unregulated placements whose numbers appear to be rising alarmingly. The capacity to change for the better is there but the will to do so is yet to be evidenced.

We would welcome a meeting and to continue to feed into the inquiry as it progresses.  We believe it is important to hear the voices of those with lived experience of the residential care system.  To ensure our work is relevant, fulfils the needs of the young people we serve we have an Ambassadors network of young people.  Many of these young people have recent lived experience of residential homes and criminal justice who would like to be heard in the inquiry.


Hannah Kirkbride

Chief Executive Career Matters 

April 2021



[1] About Career Matters - Career Services for the Future World of Work (

[2] Career Matters Thrive Platform improving outcomes for Care Leavers (



[4] The Children’s Homes (England) Regulations 2015 (

[5] Children Act 1989 (


[7] NHS Long Term Plan

[8] Fed Education – Foundation for education development.

[9] Integration and Innovation: working together to improve health and social care for all (

[10] The NHS as an anchor institution | The Health Foundation

[11] Career Matters Thrive Platform improving outcomes for Care Leavers (