Children who are fostered do better at school than those who live with their families while receiving social work support, according to new research.
The first academic study of its kind estimated that by the age of 16 children in foster or kinship care achieved GCSEs at least six grades higher on average than those in other forms of care.
The research, led by the Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education at the University of Oxford and the University of Bristol, and funded by the Nuffield Foundation, looked at the academic scores of thousands of children at the end of primary school and compared them with their eventual GCSE results.
It also found that each additional change of care placement after the age of 11 resulted in about one-third of a grade less at GCSE.
Debbie Barnes, chair of the Association of Directors of Children's Services educational achievement policy committee, said: 'The research will be an invaluable part of helping us to better understand the experiences of these vulnerable children and to make sure that both the education and care system is built to meet their individual needs.'