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A new study funded by the Nuffield Foundation will identify ways to improve educational outcomes for looked after children (those in local authority care), which are significantly poorer than for most other groups.
A team led by Professor Judy Sebba at the University of Oxford will use national datasets on children's education and care experiences to explore the relationship between educational outcomes, care histories and individual characteristics. The team will also compare the policy and practice of different local authorities.
Researchers will use the National Pupil Database and Children Looked After data for the cohort who completed GCSEs in 2013. They will explore how educational outcomes differ by gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, placement type and stability, school stability, and length of time in care.
Statistical analysis will be enhanced by interviews with 36 children in six local authorities, their carers, teachers, social workers and Virtual School staff. The children and local authorities will be selected for achieving educational outcomes better or worse than expected from their known histories.
Recommendations for ways to improve educational outcomes of children in care could relate to the resource priorities of central and local government, the practice of professionals, and the databases used to monitor outcomes.
Findings will be published in summer 2015.
The Foundation has awarded a grant of £159,409 for the study, which is a collaboration between researchers in the School for Policy Studies and the Graduate School of Education at the University of Bristol, and the Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education and the Education Department at the University of Oxford.
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