William Eichler 18 June 2019

Whitehall announces measures to support ‘vulnerable’ children in school

Whitehall announces measures to support ‘vulnerable’ children in school image

The Department for Education has announced that it will ‘take forward’ changes to make it easier for vulnerable children to access school places.

Education secretary Damian Hinds said he would change the School Admissions Code to ensure children needing a social worker would be able to access a school place ‘as quickly as possible’.

‘We understand children in care have very poor outcomes. Actually the truth is the outcomes for children in need of a social worker are almost as bad but there are five times as many of them,’ Mr Hinds told the think tank Reform.

‘We also know the effects of this sustain. Overall if you’ve needed contact with a social worker at any time since year five, on average you are going to score 20 grades lower across eight GCSEs.’

An analysis cited by the Government estimates that every classroom has three children who have come into contact with a social worker. It also calculated 1.6 million children needed a social worker at some point in the last three years.

These children, according to the study, are three times more likely to be persistently absent from school and four times more likely to be permanently excluded.

Mr Hinds said that, as well as reforming the admissions code, the Government would ensure teachers were trained to look after children who have mental health issues.

He also said there must be closer working between schools and councils to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged pupils.

‘We need to improve the visibility of this group, both in schools and in the system as a whole. We need to make sure in every case that information is passed on to a social worker when a child moves school,’ he said. ‘We also need to improve our knowledge of what works to support and help these children.’

Schools will also receive guidance on how to use the Pupil Premium – a grant aimed at decreasing the attainment gap for the disadvantaged children – effectively.

Sir Kevan Collins, chief executive of the Education Endowment Foundation, commented: ‘The Pupil Premium is the key lever for closing the attainment gap and greater security of funding supports schools to plan ahead with confidence.

‘We know that it has enabled headteachers to focus attention and make a difference for their most disadvantaged pupils. This is achieving results in schools across England, but there is undoubtedly more to do to.’

Mr Hinds added: ‘We must not lower our expectations for them – for these children it is more important that they can do their very best to make the most of their talents when they’re at school.’

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