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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 August 2006, 23:46 GMT 00:46 UK
Care concerns over exam results
Student with results
Youngsters who were in care did not perform as well as other children
Youngsters who have been through Scotland's care system are failing to make the grade in exams, a children's charity has warned.

Barnardo's said its research showed fewer than half of 16 and 17-year-olds leaving care passed one exam or more at grade three or above in 2004/05.

The charity said the state, as a parent, was failing young, disadvantaged children.

But council group Cosla said Barnardo's was not using Scottish research.

Barnardo's report, entitled Failed by the System, has called for an end to the "cycle of disadvantage" which contributed to poor exam results.

It said that about 30% of the 12,000 children in care last year achieved grade three in Maths or English, compared to 93.4% and 92.2% of all other children.

Dreadful exam results compound the disadvantages they face and commit them to unemployment and long-term disadvantage
Hugh Mackintosh
Barnardo's in Scotland

The charity surveyed 66 young people aged between 16 and 21 who were supported by its leaving care services.

Respondents were asked about their experiences of education and what factors may have affected their chances of achievement at school.

Hugh Mackintosh, director of Barnardo's in Scotland, said youngsters who had been in care needed help to improve their educational attainment.

'Academic potential'

"The cycle of disadvantage that haunts these children as they grow up shows no sign of being broken as they enter adulthood," he said.

"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 exam results compound the disadvantages they face and commit them to unemployment and long-term disadvantage."

Mr Mackintosh said the government had set up a ministerial working group in Scotland to tackle the problem.

The findings have been superimposed onto a Scottish landscape which is very different
Eric Jackson
Cosla

He added: "We are hopeful this will act as a catalyst to generate more positive educational outcomes for looked-after young people in the future."

The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (Cosla) said it was "outraged" by Barnardo's report and claimed it was unrepresentative.

Cosla spokesman Eric Jackson said: "How can you, on the basis of a survey consisting of 66 young people based in England and Wales, conclude that the education system in the UK is failing children in care?

"The findings have been superimposed onto a Scottish landscape which is very different - different education systems, different care systems."

Mr Jackson said Cosla was awaiting the publication of the working group's report in the next few weeks on the subject and he called for "intelligent discussion, not seek cheap headlines at the expense of disadvantaged youngsters".




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