Children in care have gained more qualifications this year but most are still not fulfilling their potential, according to Deputy Education Minister Robert Brown.
Statistics released today show that this year half of children left care with at least one qualification – up from 43 per cent in 2005.
The biggest improvement was for children who were looked after at home, with 45 per cent gaining a foundation level Standard Grade – rising from 35 per cent last year.
The number of children in care gaining qualifications in English and maths has also increased from 28 per cent to 34 per cent.
Mr Brown said:
“Today’s figures confirm what we already know – too many looked after children are not fulfilling their academic potential. That’s why we have invested resources and focused so strongly on their educational needs in the last few years.
“We have made it clear that this is an issue that everyone involved in their care and protection must address. Accepting failure is not an option.
“However, we also see the first sign of an improvement in attainment for these young people in a number of years. It’s too early to say that we are finally improving the educational achievements of looked after children.
“We now need a renewed focus on the issues, so that we can build on the improvements of this year. Last year we established a group to look in detail at the issues affecting children in care and their education. This work, which will be published shortly, will clearly set out how we can help these children flourish, excel in education and go on to successful, productive futures. They deserve nothing less.”
A Ministerial Working Group has been established to look at the issue of improving educational attainment amongst looked after children. The group is due to publish its report later this year.
In 2002, the Executive provided councils with ?10 million to help improve educational outcomes for looked after young people. A further ?6 million was announced in 2004 to encourage local authorities to pilot new models to improve educational outcomes for this vulnerable group.