Minister mentions department research

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Category: News

Children and Families Minister, Edward Timpson quoted extensively from the Nuffield-funded research undertaken by a team from the University of Oxford Department of Education (Sebba, Luke, Strand, Fletcher, Sinclair, O’Higgins) and University of Bristol.

He gave a keynote speech at the Annual Conference of Virtual School Heads in York on 22 March in which he said:

“I was so pleased to be at the launch of the joint research by the Rees Centre and University of Bristol last November on the educational progress of looked-after children in England. It was the first major study in England to explore the relationship between education outcomes and the care histories and characteristics of the young people looked after.

I’m sure you’ll have discussed the findings in your regions just as we’ve been discussing them with ADCS. I could talk about them all at great length as my officials know to their cost! But in the time, I have I’ll highlight 3.

Firstly, it appears that children who’ve been in care longer do better than those who have been in short-term care, therefore suggesting that care can provide a protective factor educationally. This is not the perceived wisdom out there in the public arena, an orthodoxy we now need to challenge.

Secondly, and this comes as no surprise, the research shows that stability is a strong indicator of educational attainment. In particular, the research revealed that:

  • each additional change of care placement after the age of 11 was associated with one third of a grade less at GCSE
  • young people who changed schools in years 10 and 11 scored over five grades less than those who didn’t

Serious food for thought, not just for virtual school heads, but the wider children’s social care workforce.

And thirdly, the other stand-out message for me in the research – one that on the face of it is blindly obvious but nonetheless under-appreciated – was that schools doing well for other pupils do well for children who are looked after.

So what are the policy and practice implications from this comprehensive study for virtual school heads?

For me, research like this is all about helping you use the levers at your disposal to greatest effect.”

The Minister went on to say that the DfE has set up a working party with ADCS and the Virtual School Heads new Professional Association to consider the implications of the research for policy and practice.

The overview report and three technical reports are on the Rees Centre website.