Evidence shows that the educational attainments of Children in Need (CIN) and Children in Care (CIC) in England are lower than for other pupils. This represents sizeable numbers of children: the latest figures (March 2019) showed that there were 399,500 Children in Need in England and 78,150 Children in Care.
The ‘attainment gap’ in reaching expected standards is approximately 25-30% at Key Stage 1 (aged 7) and KS2 (aged 11), and 25% at KS4 (aged 16). Researchers have often investigated the education of Children in Care; however, Children in Need have received very little attention.
This project aimed to identify factors that might explain the ‘attainment gap’ for CIN and CIC. It did this through:
• Quantitative analysis of data from a whole birth cohort of children (471,688) born in England in 2000/01, starting school in 2006/07 and tracked through to their General Certificate of Education (GCSE) exams in 2017.
• Interviews with 123 children, parents/carers and professionals.
Reference: Berridge, D., Luke, N., Sebba, J., Strand, S., Cartwright, M., Staples, E. M., McGrath-Lone, L., Ward, J., & O’Higgins, A. (2020). Children in need and Children in care: Educational attainment and progress. Bristol: University of Bristol
This study builds on previous work in this area (Sebba et al., 2015). It was a mixed-methods study, with a prospective longitudinal design. The quantitative research used annual data from three DfE datasets: the National Pupil Database, Children in Need and Children Looked After. The researchers developed a classification of levels of social work interventions: comparing children with no interventions; children subject to a Children in Need Plan (CINP) or a Child Protection Plan (CPP); and Children in Care (CIC). Outcome data for different groups concerned pupils’ attainment at KS1, KS2 and KS4 as well as KS4 Progress 8 – a measure of pupils’ progress between KS2-KS4. Statistical analyses were used to show the prevalence and differences between comparison groups. Multiple regression modelling was used to identify the key factors that predicted higher or lower scores for attainment at KS4.
This was complemented by qualitative interviews in 6 English local authorities with 18 Children in Need, 23 Children in Care, 17 parents or Special Guardians, 16 foster/residential carers, 19 social workers and 23 teachers. Seven joint- or individual interviews were undertaken with Virtual School Heads and senior social work managers. Children were included between the ages of 6-17 years, including those deemed to be making ‘good progress’ or ‘poorer progress’ educationally in order to identify differences.
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