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Last Updated: Thursday, 21 June 2007, 14:26 GMT 15:26 UK
Firms to sponsor children in care
Pupils using computers
Some companies are already involved in the initiative
Big business has been urged to sponsor children in care to give them career opportunities when they leave school.

Ministers want the private sector to have more contact with the care system, and some of the UK's leading companies have signed up to a new initiative.

The project emerged as a White Paper on improving the education of children in care was published.

Education Secretary Alan Johnson said: "I welcome the commitment made today by big business to play their part."

School places

Banking giant HSBC has already committed 1m, BT will involve its apprenticeship scheme, and talks are being held with Citi, Deutsche Bank and BSkyB.

Measures in the White Paper include making schools give places to children in care, even if they are full, and providing bursaries of a minimum of 2,000 for those who go on to university.

The government will also pilot a scheme in 11 local authorities for children to receive help from a "virtual head teacher", who would check on the progress of all children in care in their area.

Studies show only 11% of children in care currently get five good GCSEs, compared with 56% in England as a whole.

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