Rees Centre researchers explore how the use of non-mainstream schools might affect educational outcomes of children in care

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Category: News Research Centre News

Researchers from the Rees Centre have been exploring how the use of non-mainstream schools might affect the educational outcomes of children in care.

A journal article has, this week, been published by The British Journal of Social Work entitled ‘Closing the Gap’: How is the Use of Non-Mainstream Schools Related to the Educational Outcomes of Children in Public Care?

 The article stems from a wider programme on the education of children in care, and complements previous work showing that in the ‘right’ mainstream school and in stable placements a substantial proportion of these children can catch up educationally with their peers.

Dr Nikki Luke co-authored the paper with Professor Ian Sinclair.

Nikki said: “Our analysis shows that some local authorities make disproportionate use of non-mainstream schools for children in care. Outcomes at GCSE are particularly low for children in care in these authorities.

“Non-mainstream schools may be the best option for some children’s needs, but our study suggests that for many children in care, the provision of supportive, inclusive mainstream schooling could be a better way to help them realise their academic potential.”

The paper argues that there is a real need for individualised teaching in a supportive setting which should be flexibly met in mainstream schools, special units within these schools or, at the most, short-term placements in NMS.

In high-income countries, children in care have, on average, much lower educational attainment than their peers. This Rees work suggests that reducing the use of NMS, combined with best practice in mainstream schools and placement support, could substantially reduce this notorious and hitherto intractable gap.

Read the full article in the British Journal of Social Work or access it here