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Last Updated: Tuesday, 26 October, 2004, 15:45 GMT 16:45 UK
'Education gap' of care children
Teenagers
Teenagers are leaving care with few qualifications
More than half of 16 and 17-year-olds who left care in the last year did not achieve any Standard Grade level qualifications, it has emerged.

The figures, disclosed in the annual children's social work statistics, were described as "disappointing" by the Scottish Executive.

It has now released an extra 6m to councils to educate youngsters in care.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) welcomed the funds but claimed there was no long-term strategy on the issue.

The figures show that 60% of children leaving care did not attain Standard Grade foundation level qualifications or higher, compared with fewer than 10% for Scotland as a whole.

Children who miss out on education face a life of difficulty as adults and no civilised society can tolerate this
Euan Robson
Deputy Education Minister
And 60% who had left care were not in education, training or employment compared with a Scottish figure for 16-19 year olds of 14%.

"Ministers are becoming very concerned about how councils are dealing with this," said an executive spokeswoman.

The statistics also showed more children being looked after for their own care and protection.

There was a rise in the number of children being added to child protection registers because of emotional abuse and physical neglect, but a fall in the number of children registered because of sexual abuse and physical injury.

The extra 6m was announced by Deputy Education Minister Euan Robson, who said councils would get the funds over two years to explore new ways of improving the education of children in care.

Problem 'getting worse'

"Children who miss out on education face a life of difficulty as adults and no civilised society can tolerate this," he said.

"We are writing to councils making it clear that they must ensure children in care receive the same education opportunities as their peers."

The SNP's education spokesman, Adam Ingram, said: "My main concern is that if 60% of children are leaving care without any qualifications then they will not be fully equipped with the tools they need to provide for themselves.

For too long these children have not been enabled to achieve to their maximum potential
Eric Jackson
Cosla
"While extra funding is always welcome, without a long-term strategy to try and solve the problem, the worry is that it will get increasingly worse."

Conservative communities spokeswoman Mary Scanlon said the figures showed the executive was letting down the youngsters whom they claimed to champion.

"It is shocking to see the discrepancies between the educational achievements of those children who are looked after by local authorities, and those who are not," she said.

Eric Jackson, social work spokesman for the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla), said: "For too long these children have not been enabled to achieve to their maximum potential.

Thousands of children

"They are amongst the most vulnerable in our communities and deserve an opportunity to be included in and contribute to those communities."

The statistics showed almost 11,700 children were being looked after by local authorities on 31 May this year, a figure said to represent "a modest growth" in the figures for recent years.

A total of 2,245 children were on child protection registers on March 31, a 2% fall on the previous year.

The last five years have also seen dramatic increases in the number of children added to child protection registers for emotional abuse - up 108% - and physical neglect, up 80%.

But there have been decreases of 32% and 11% in the numbers added to registers for sexual abuse and physical injury.


SEE ALSO:
Warning over care home standards
20 Sep 04  |  Scotland


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