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Youngsters in care not making GCSE grade
10:01am Monday 29th October 2012 in News
YOUNGSTERS who have been through Hampshire’s care system are still not making the grade at GCSE level despite extra funds to help them.
Last year just six per cent received five GCSEs grades A*to C, including English and maths, compared with 15 per cent in 2010.
It means 99 out of 105 16-year-olds in care who sat exams left without the basic qualifications demanded by many colleges and employers.
After finishing school, more than half were not in education, training or employment of any kind, the latest figures reveal.
Meanwhile schools have come under fire from government watchdog Ofsted for using the “pupil premium” to plug gaps in their budget.
The funds were supposed to provide extra support to disadvantaged pupils, including those from poorer families, service children and youngsters in care. Schools get about £600 for each pupil.
In Hampshire, the pupil premium is worth an extra £16m a year.
Children’s services chief Councillor Roy Perry said the money was not ring-fenced and schools decided how to spend it.
Cllr Perry said schools will be held accountable by Ofsted and the council also monitored if children in care got extra help.
The council has several schemes to improve the education of youngsters in care, including numeracy and literacy support, peer mentoring and specialist training for foster carers and teachers.
But there is still a massive gap in achievement between children in care and their classmates.
Figures show 60 per cent of all children in Hampshire got five GCSEs at grade C or above, including ‘English and Maths in 2012 and 2011.
Now county chiefs have promised a new approach to tracking the progress of pupils in care, extra support in year nine and one-to-one tuition for most in year 10 and 11.
Children’s services chief Councillor Roy Perry said the council as “corporate parent” wanted children in its care to achieve the best results they possibly can.
But he said many faced “complex and very challenging sets of personal circumstances” which could adversely affect their schooling and results.
He said: “We know that the results for looked after children lag behind those of their peers which is why we are continuing to develop our support for schools.
“We are not complacent about this and recognise it as a priority to raise attainment for children in our care.”
Figures show only 46.5 per cent of teenagers leaving care were in education or employment or training in 2012, compared with the national average of 61 per cent.
The county council says the proportion of care leavers in education, employment or training has fallen across the country as a result of the recession.
However the drop in Hampshire has been significantly greater than the national average – falling from 64 per cent in 2008 to 47 per cent in 2012.
Last year, council leader Ken Thornber launched a new apprenticeship scheme for care leavers to work in council departments with extra training and pastoral support.