Improving the education of children in care is the highest priority for the Government. The Children Act 2004 placed local authorities under a specific duty to promote the educational achievement of all children in their care. In 2005, we issued statutory guidance on the duty on to promote the educational achievement of looked after children, which set out how local authorities should meet this duty. This included guidance on how they should ensure children’s homes support the education of children in care.
The National Minimum Standards (NMS) for children’s homes make it clear that measures must be in place within local authority and privately run children’s homes to address bullying. In particular, there must be a policy on preventing and countering bullying which is known to staff and children. This includes bullying that may occur outside the home.
We recognise that the education of children and young people in care is not good enough. “Care Matters: Time for Change”, published in June 2006, set out a range of measures to improve the attainment of those in care and, in particular, personalise their learning in order to narrow the gap between children in care and all children. This work is underpinned by a public service agreement to narrow the gap in educational achievement between children from low income and disadvantaged backgrounds and their peers, and the provisions in the Children and Young Persons Bill.
Following the passage of the Children and Young Persons Bill we are committed to revising the Children Act 1989 guidance and National Minimum Standards for Children’s Homes. This will include guidance on how local authorities and children’s homes should support the education of children and young people in care and ensure that those experiencing difficulty receive the support that they need.