Children in care are written off by the education system, with nearly eight out of 10 gaining no qualifications, children's charity Barnardo's says.
Most cared-for children have no qualifications, Barnardo's says
Its Failed by the System report assesses the experiences of the 80,000 children looked after by councils.
A survey of 66 children found they had multiple placements and school changes, which Barnardo's says is common.
The government said reforms within its education White Paper would help cared- for children reach their potential.
'Cycle of disadvantage'
Barnardo's chief executive Martin Narey said: "The cycle of disadvantage that haunts these children as they grow up shows no sign of being broken as they enter adulthood.
"Our report shows that many looked-after children have both academic potential and the desire to work hard and would have liked to succeed in education but the state, as a parent, fails them terribly.
"Dreadful GCSE results compound the disadvantages they face and commit them to unemployment and long-term disadvantage."
Barnardo's claimed multiple care home and foster care placements, repeated school changes, exclusion and insufficient support all contributed to a cycle of disadvantage.
Findings of the report included:
More than half reported being bullied at school as a direct result of being in care.Four out of 10 said no-one had attended their school parents' evenings.Nearly half said no-one went to sports days or other school events.The number of care placements young people had lived in varied between one and 30 - half had been in more than four placements.More than half were not currently in employment, training or education.Almost half the group had attended six or more schools and 11% had attended more than 10.
Barnardo's said an NOP poll of 500 parents of children who took their GCSEs this year illustrated the contrast between experiences.
This found that 58% had never moved home, 96% had attended their child's parents' evenings and just 6% were expecting their child to leave school with no qualifications.
Barnardo's works with 120,000 children, young people and their families at more than 370 projects in the UK.
The charity has called for designated teacher posts to be created at all schools to help vulnerable children.
It also wants staff to be taught how the care system works and for bullying policies to take into account those in care.
A Department for Education and Skills spokesman said the government recognised that children in care underachieved significantly and that they needed to be put in schools that met their needs.
He said regulations were already in place to ensure looked-after children were the main priority for school admissions.
The spokesman added that the Education and Inspections Bill would give local authorities the power to direct schools to admit a child outside the normal admissions round.
He said: "This will form a key part of a wider package of reforms to be published in our forthcoming green paper, which will be designed to help ensure looked-after children realise their fullest potential."