DfE stats change means a better understanding of what happens to children leaving care
11 October 2012
From 2013/14, the Department for Education will be making a number of changes to the statistics it collects for Looked After Children and Care Leavers. The changes mean that it will be much easer to track looked after children's progression out of care, and that the impact of initiatives, like Buttle UK's Quality Mark for Care Leavers, which aim to help improve the educational outcomes of care leavers will be clearer.
Current statistics published by the department refer to young people who were looked after at the age of 16 and who are now 19 years old, by gender, activity and accommodation. This information is a hugely important indicator of the proportions of Care Leavers participating in further and higher education, however, because of the small age range it documents it only provides a snapshot of the activities of Care Leavers at that age. As of 2013/14, the publication will now provide statistics for those aged 20 and 21 years old. The data is also being extended to cover a wider cohort of young people who have been in care, including those young people who local authorities are now required to support under the new ‘Duty of Personal Advisor’.
We are one of a number of organisations, including NCAS, who have been encouraging the department to expand the age range covered in these statistics and so we are extremely pleased the release will now provide a broader mechanism for understanding outcomes for former looked after children. The extension of the age range covered in the statistics is hugely important for us because it will provide a wider picture of the participation of Care Leavers in further and higher education, including those who chose to go back into education at the age of 20 or 21. The previous exclusion of Care Leavers above the age of 19 had meant that there was no information available about what they were up to and therefore whether they were getting the same opportunities or support as those who had more recently left care.
Last month the Department for Education published statistics for 2012 which showed that 28% of Care Leavers aged 19 were in education other than higher education, and 7% were in higher education. This compares to 30% and 6% in 2011 respectively.
For further information, please visit the NCAS website which contains detailed information from the Department for Education about what the exact changes will be.