Recent years have seen a wide range of different types of support to improve educational and other outcomes for care experienced children and young people including the following:
- £11.6 million was pledged this year alone by the Scottish Government split between Scotland’s 32 local authorities to provide targeted initiatives, activities, and resources, designed to improve the educational outcomes of care experienced children and young people;
- updated National Operational Guidance Care experienced children & young people fund has been published underlining increased flexibility for local authorities in the context of the pandemic;
- Education Scotland’s Attainment Advisors are supporting how local authorities and school devise and implement plans to improve outcomes for all our most disadvantaged children and young people including those who are care experienced;
- useful guidance has been published for practitioners on the National Improvement Hub, by BPS, by CELCIS and Who Cares? Scotland;
- local authorities have implemented a wide range of activities to improve outcomes for care experienced children and young people including the establishment of virtual schools in many local authorities providing the opportunity for insights in relation to ways to support care experienced learners at classroom level; and
- most recently the First Minister underlined a commitment in the Programme for government 2020-21 to support the recommendations of the Independent Care Review publication of The Promisewhich includes five foundations and over 80 calls to action.
All of these initiatives and commitments support the drive to improve outcomes for our care experienced children and young people. The publication of Educational Outcomes for looked after children 2018-19 statistics report on 1 September 2020 in relation to the 1,031 young people who were looked after at any point between August 2018 to July 2019 shows that outcomes have improved for care experienced children and young people over the last six years. However attainment and attendance is still lower compared to the total population of pupils in Scotland. Insights provided by CELCIS and Who Cares? Scotland show that the pandemic is likely to have exacerbated the needs of many including those leaving care.
As we head into the second term of this very different school session our national commitment to improving lives of care experienced children and young people must not be diluted in the midst of potentially competing demands on time, attention and funds. Importantly we must remain ambitious for and optimistic about the potential to continue to improve outcomes for our care experienced children and young people. A post in the Who Cares? Scotland blog expressed this well “Given the current trajectory of the lives of children and young people in care; given the dim view presented through the statistical representation of the future outcomes of Care Experienced people, that have been made so public; and, given how hard it can be – when you have no one else – to convince yourself that you can…our Care Experienced population needs all the positive examples of success and triumph it can get. And we need the support that helps us become success and triumph, whatever our measure of that is.”