DfE urges local authorities to promote educational outcomes for vulnerable children

Senior leaders should promote educational outcomes as an important part of the role of social care and multi-agency working

Published on 10th December 2018

Senior leaders in local authorities have been urged by the Department for Education to promote educational outcomes as an important progress measure for Children in Need.

Senior leaders should promote educational outcomes as an important part of the role of social care and multi-agency working, and as an important progress measure for Children in Need, interim findings of a government review has said.

The report also urges school leaders  to create a culture of high educational aspiration for Children in Need, and to be evaluating how this is being achieved, including through support that recognises the impact of children’s experiences.

"Poor educational outcomes for Children in Need are not inevitable," said the report. "We have seen this  through the data, and it has been reinforced through all our discussions, including with children themselves."

"Agencies working with Children in Need, including schools and social care, can increase their  focus on educational outcomes. This is not a change in direction, but an injection of aspiration; safety will always come first but is not an end goal," it added.

In 2016/7, one in 10 state school pupils had a social worker within the previous six years of their life, according to new data. Figures published early in the year showed that the average GCSE attainment for these children is nearly half that of other pupils.

As the Education Secretary vowed to tackle the "significantly worse" educational outcomes of vulnerable children, he said teachers and social workers will get advice to improve their wellbeing, behaviour and school attendance.

The publication will provide teachers and social workers with advice to help improve attendance, behaviour and wellbeing, such as adjusting how they manage vulnerable children’s behaviour and adapting how they speak to the child.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said: "It’s a measure of a good society how we treat children who are most in need of our support. If we truly aspire for all children to succeed, whatever their background, we cannot ignore the stark reality of the poorer outcomes for this group of children who have already been through more than we would want our own children to experience.

"There is no reason why we should have a lower aspiration for a child in need of help or protection than we do for their peers. Whether it is making sure a child has a consistent and trusted member of staff or taking the time to speak to a child the morning after they have witnessed domestic abuse, I hope this practical advice can help those leaders in schools and social care, alongside our hardworking teachers and social workers, understand how we can collectively do to more to support these children. Together, we can help them have greater opportunities to fulfil their potential," he added.

The interim Children in Need of Help and Protection review shares good practice that professionals have identified to support children to thrive in education and achieve better outcomes. Effective ways to achieve this includes:

- training for professionals to recognise the lasting impact of trauma and adversity on children’s school attendance, learning, behaviour and wellbeing;

- better information sharing and multi-agency working between schools and other local agencies on the child’s family circumstances; and

 -  inclusion in school and making proportionate adjustments to promote better outcomes – such as teachers adapting how they communicate with vulnerable children and how they manage their behaviour.

The DfE is also investing in a What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care, which aims to develop and test new approaches, such as placing social workers in schools to provide holistic support for vulnerable children.

Improving the educational outcomes of Children in Need of help and protection: Interim findings

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