Educational outcomes for children in care in Scotland have improved over the last 10 years, however, the gap between the outcomes of looked after children and their peers remains.
Official Scottish government statistics showed that 38% of looked after children left school with school with one or more qualification at The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level five in 2019-20 compared to 13% in 2009-2010. However, 86% of all pupils left school with one or more qualification at SCQF level 5.
While 75% of looked after children went into positive follow-up destination after leaving school up from 42% in 2009-10, this compared to 92% for all school pupils in 2019-2020. School leavers who are engaged in higher education, further education, training, voluntary work, employment or are undertaking personal skills development are classified as having a 'positive destination'.
“Education outcomes for looked after children have improved over the last ten years,” said the report. “However, there are still large gaps compared with all pupils.”
“A lower proportion of looked after children enter positive destinations than all school leavers, but this gap has narrowed considerably over the last ten years,” said the report.
There are an estimated 943 young people who were looked after at any point between August 2019 and July 2020, and who were in the 2019/20 school leaver cohort. These looked after young people represent two per cent of the 47,454 school leavers in 2019/20.
The government report revealed that looked after school leavers who were in foster care or with friends or relatives had higher attainment than other placement types. While 69% of children staying with family and relatives and 65% of children in foster care achieved at least one qualification at SCQF level 5 or better, this compared with 38% of all looked after school leavers.
School leavers who were looked after within the last year in 'other residential settings', which includes residential schools, secure care accommodation and crisis care, had the lowest overall levels of attainment. Despite increasing in the last year from 59% to 71% achieving at least one qualification at SCQF level 3 or better, this was lower than 87% for all looked after school leavers. School leavers who were looked after at home with parents also had lower levels of attainment compared with most other placement types.