Children in care “20 times more likely” to be in special education, Ofsted reveals

Almost half of children living in children’s homes are in special education, a major study has revealed.

The finding forms part of new research and analysis into the quality of education of children in care.

Published by Ofsted, the school and social care regulator, the study uses a sample of 2,600 school-aged children who lived in children’s homes between 01 April 2018 and 31 March 2019.

It found that 83 per cent of children – around 2,165 – in care attended educational provision eligible for Ofsted inspection, while nine per cent attended unregulated provisions and six per cent were not in education, employment or training.

A further two per cent attended educational provision inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI).

Of those who attended Ofsted-regulated establishments, over half (57 per cent) were in special independent or state run schools.

It means that children in care are “20 times more likely to be in special education” compared to the general school-age population, reflecting the “complex needs of many children entering children’s homes”.

However, children living in children’s homes were also less likely to attend a “good” or “outstanding” school, potentially widening the education gap between looked after children and their peers.

Likewise, children in care were “18 times more likely” to be attending a pupil referral unit (PRU) – a type of school specifically set up to cater to the needs of children who require greater care and support than a traditional school can provide.

Commenting on the report, the authors said: “This study starts to address the shortfall in research identifying where children living in children’s homes are educated.

“Previous studies have found that the educational outcomes for children living in children’s homes are poor compared with their peers.”

Click here to access the study.

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