Not enough teachers for looked after children in England

There is only one full-time equivalent (FTE) qualified teacher per 135 looked after children eligible for the pupil premium in England, according to Freedom of Information (FoI) requests submitted by the Cambridge-based specialist maths, English and science tutoring provider, TLC Education Group.

There are 40,560 children eligible for the Looked After Child Pupil Premium in England; £19,791,000 has been allocated to them out of the £625 million pupil premium 2011/12 fund. TLC Education Group asked 30 local authorities how many teachers were specifically employed to fulfil statutory duties under section 52 of the Children Act 2004 which states: “The duty of a local authority under subsection (3)(a) to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child looked after by them includes in particular a duty to promote the child’s educational achievement.”

 

Simon Barnes, Director of TLC Education Group, comments: “Looked after children often can’t make it to school or have missed large chunks of education because of a tumultuous personal life – this upheaval is tragically reflected by the fact that under half of looked after teenagers get five GCSEs. It is essential local authorities have the resource to provide these children with the individual learning programmes they need and these FoI results suggest it’s not readily available.

 

“One council informed us that it had only one fully qualified teacher for the 613 looked after children in its local area. It’s not physically possible for this teacher to address the educational needs of these children.”

 

A number of local authorities provided details of ‘virtual schools’ that the children benefit from. These are online portals designed to support the children and their guardians with resources and schedules that are completed in order to monitor the attendance and punctuality on the school register, until the end of year 11.

 

Barnes continues: “We feel Michael Gove’s recent comments on ICT adoption should be seriously considered by local authorities looking to provide looked after children with additional education. Unfortunately the virtual schools mentioned don’t offer individual tuition and are instead designed as a repository for educational resources. Online tutoring however works well for the children and their carers as it’s highly flexible and can be tailored to meet specific academic requirements. In addition to this, the council benefits from the pupil premium being allocated to an activity that directly positively effects children’s attainment.”

 

All local authorities questioned have one teacher per school dedicated to looked after children that attend, in addition to the teachers employed directly by the council. The local authorities questioned were the ones with the highest numbers of looked after children eligible for the pupil premium fund; out of the 30 surveyed, 28 responded.

 

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