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Nikki Luke, Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education, University of Oxford

Presentation as PDF Download

The educational progress of foster children in England: linking care and educational data

Study conducted by Rees Centre, University of Oxford and School for Policy Studies and Graduate School of Education, University of Bristol, Funded by the Nuffield Foundation

This study investigates the relationships between young people’s experiences in the care system and their educational achievements in secondary school. Using a mixed methods approach, we explored the relationship between educational outcomes, young people’s care histories and individual characteristics by linking the educational data collected annually in the English National Pupil Database and the care history data for the cohort of children in care who completed exams in 2013. These detailed data enabled us to examine both the role of foster care as a predictor of educational outcomes, and the particular factors that predicted success for the subset of young people in foster and kinship care. Outcomes for children with different characteristics and the relationships between outcomes and placement type and stability, school stability and length of time in care were explored. These statistical analyses were complemented by in-depth qualitative interviews with young people in six local authorities and with adults significant in their educational careers, to explore what might be done to improve the progress of secondary school pupils in foster care.

The presentation will focus on our analysis of the key factors that were associated with fostered young people’s educational outcomes, including individual characteristics, early environment, and experiences in care and at school. We will also discuss the potential for the resulting evidence to inform policy and practice, as identifying the relationships between care experiences and educational progress will enable schools and services for children and young people to better support their education and improve outcomes.

Keywords: education, databases, interviews