Understanding the educational experiences and opinions, attainment, achievement and aspirations of looked after children in Wales

Since devolution (1998 in some respects in Wales), the Welsh Government has developed its own policies and guidance for local authorities, which aim to tackle the issue of the ‘underachievement’ for looked after children and young people (LACYP). This has resulted in several types of educational interventions for LACYP in compulsory education.

These include:

  1. The establishment of the local authority looked-after children’s education coordinator to monitor progress;
  2. The looked-after children’s education support worker to provide catch-up support; 
  3. A designated teacher in schools who supports LACYP; and the
  4. Personal Education Plan (see WAG 2007).

However, despite these policy provisions, the overall educational attainment of LACYP has yet to be noticeably raised.

The lack of marked progress in this area, despite policy interventions, highlights the challenges in addressing LACYPs educational achievement and the complexity of the problem.


Reference: Mannay D., Staples, E., Hallett, S., Roberts, L., Rees, A., Evans, R., Andrews, D. (2015). Understanding the educational experiences and opinions, attainment, achievement and aspirations of looked after children in Wales. Cardiff: Cardiff University


editors comments

Contract research is often a difficult task; multiple research questions; often interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary and tough to manage into a coherent whole. More often than not, such research is based on survey data and in research terms, is inductive, and as such provides no attempts at explanation using existing theory. This report represents each and all of those things. The research cobbles together a partial and limited systematic review (although it claims otherwise); a few child-friendly textually driven data collection episodes with primary school children; some small-scale focus groups; and what appears to be two telephone interviews with Careleavers in HE.

It is, however, useful for its reference list and traditional literature review and an interesting source for some statistics, and for students at least, some insight into some valuable small scale research methods with children.

This survey was used as part of the Welsh governments' rather good 'Raising the ambitions and educational attainment of children who are looked after in Wales' strategy.

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