The outcomes for looked after children in Scotland have improved over the last six years, although there are still huge gaps between looked-after children and their peers.
In 2012-13, 23 per cent of looked after school leavers had one or more qualification at The Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework level 5, although this rose to 35 per cent in 2018-19. However, this compares to 85 per cent of all children.
The percentage of looked after school leavers in positive destinations rose from 63 per cent in 2012-13 to 71 per cent in 2018-19, although this compares to 93 per cent of all children. 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'.
School attendance for looked after children fell from 89 per cent in 2012-13 to 87 per cent in 2018-19. School attendance for all children was 93 per cent in 2018-19. Pupils looked after within the year who experienced one or two placements had higher rates of attendance than pupils with three or more placements. Attendance rates were highest among pupils with two placements (87.5%) and one placement (86.8%) and lowest for those with three placements (83.8%) and four placements (84.2%). It should be noted that the majority of pupils looked after within the last year had only one placement.
The highest attendance rates are for young people in ‘other community’ placements (including those in supported and those with prospective adopters) in a foster care placement, both provided by and purchased by local authorities. The attendance rates of 95.6%, 95.4% and 95.3% respectively for these pupils were higher than the rate for all pupils (93.0%). Pupils looked after at home (76.4%) and those in local authority homes (83.5%) had the lowest attendance rates.
School exclusions also went down from 280 per 100,000 pupils in 2012-13 to 152 per 100,000 pupils in 2018-19. However, this compares to 22 per 100,000 in all children in 2018-19. As with attendance rate, there is a similar disparity in rates of exclusion according to the type of accommodation in which pupils looked after within the year are placed. Children in residential accommodation and at home with parents tend to have higher rates of exclusions than those looked after in foster care and with friends or relatives
The data is relation to the estimated 1,031 young people who were looked after at any point between August 2018 to July 2019 and who were in the 2018/19 school leaver cohort.
Educational attainment varies across the types of accommodation in which looked after children are living. School leavers in foster care provided and purchased by the local authority performed better than those in other care settings, with 66% and 70% achieving at least one qualification at SCQF level 5 or better respectively, compared with 35% 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, with 59% achieving at least one qualification at SCQF level 3 or better, compared with 83% for all looked after school leavers. School leavers who were looked after at home with parents also had low levels of attainment compared with most other placement types.
The report showed that a slightly higher percentage of leavers looked after within the year with two placements achieved at least one qualification at SCQF level 3 or better (88%) than those with one or three or more placements (both 82%).
However, a higher proportion of those with one placement achieved qualifications at higher attainment levels (SCQF level 5 or better).
A lower proportion of looked after children achieve the Curriculum for Excellence (CfE) level relevant to their stage compared with all children across all organisers Achievement of CfE levels is lowest for those looked after at home and those looked after in residential accommodation.
Achievement of CfE levels varies across the types of accommodation in which looked after children are placed. Generally, a higher proportion of pupils looked after within the year who lived with friends/relatives achieved the CfE level relevant to their stage across most organisers than in other placement types. A lower proportion of pupils placed in voluntary homes, in other residential accommodation, at home with parents and those with more than one placement achieved the CfE level relevant to their stage compared with all pupils looked after within the last year.
Education Outcomes for Looked After Children for 2018-19 statistics report