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Education committee launches inquiry into children’s homes

An inquiry into children’s homes has been launched by The Education Committee as part of its ongoing work exploring the issues faced by groups that are often left behind.

The inquiry is the latest in the Committee’s strand of work on left behind groups. Inquiries are continuing on left behind white pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, home education and prison education.

Rt Hon Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said: “With many children in care struggling to achieve good basic qualifications and leavers more likely to end up in prison or on the streets, those in the care system are falling behind every step of the way. As part of the Committee’s unerring focus on supporting disadvantaged groups, this inquiry will get to the bottom of why children and young people living in children’s homes are facing such an uphill struggle to get on in life.

“There is also worrying evidence of the consequences of a lack of oversight in some homes. The most basic of rights for a child must be to have somewhere safe to live, where they are not at risk of abuse or preyed on by gangs. We will be examining whether more needs to be done to protect young people in unregulated provision.

“Children coming into care will already have had a traumatic start to their lives. We therefore owe it to them to ensure that their homes are safe and secure and that they are given every helping hand to access the ladder of opportunity and succeed in education and beyond,” he added.

The committee highlights that:
- Just 7% of looked-after children achieve a good pass in GCSE English and Maths compared with 40% of non-looked after children.

- Around a quarter of both homeless people and those in prison are care-leavers.

- Looked-after children are four times more likely to have a special educational need (SEN) than other children.

- Children aged 16-17 living in children’s homes are 15 times more likely to be criminalised than their peers of the same age.

The inquiry is likely to examine areas including the data on academic outcomes and progression to destinations such as employment, apprenticeships and higher education for children and young people living in children’s homes and what can be done to improve educational and longer-term outcomes for children and young people living in children’s homes.

The disproportionately high rates of criminalisation of young people in children’s homes are likely to be examined alongside what further support is needed to improve outcomes for children with special educational needs in children’s homes.

The inquiry will cover the quality of care, support and safeguarding in children’s homes as well as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the children’s residential care sector, and on the demand for children’s home places.

The committee will shortly publish full terms of reference for the inquiry along with a call for written evidence. The committee will be calling for written evidence from everyone with experience of working in children’s homes, academic and policy experts, and young people who live or who have lived in a children’s home.

Further information is available here

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