Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Care children 'failed' by system

Children in care are still failing to flourish in the classroom

Ministers have been urged to do more to improve the education of children in care, as figures revealed they still lag behind other groups.

Students in care achieved, on average, two Standard Grade passes in 2008, fewer than pupils from even the poorest social backgrounds.

Former First Minister Jack McConnell said their poor results meant they were consigned to the "margins of society".

The Scottish Government said it was already working to improve attainment.

A spokesman said: "All children deserve the chance to fulfil their potential and there should be no difference between the chances of young people in care and their peers.

They should expect the same support, the same direction, the same assistance that we would expect any other parent to give.
Jack McConnell
Former first minister

"That's why we recently moved to clearly set out what is expected of everyone responsible for our looked after children and to launch measures to improve the educational attainment and achievement of young people in care."

The results for children in care - in foster homes or children's homes - were broadly in line with the level last year, although large numbers of children were missing from the survey.

In the overall results for all pupils, which included the outcome of appeals, girls did better at Higher grade with 25.2% passing three or more Highers compared to 19.6% for boys.

The number of pupils passing three Highers was up 0.3% to 22.4%. At Standard Grade the pass rate for five Highers was up 0.6% to 76.2%.

European experience

Mr McConnell, a former maths teacher and Labour education minister, said education authorities and ministers could learn from the experience of other European countries in raising the attainment levels of children in care.

He said: "The youngsters that are in care technically have the state as their parent. They should expect the same support, the same direction, the same assistance that we would expect any other parent to give.

"It is absolutely tragic that so many of these youngsters leave school, some without any qualifications at all, most with very few qualifications and are therefore far more likely to become involved in crime, to become unemployed, be at the margins of society for the rest of their lives."

In September, the Scottish Government published the "These Are Our Bairns" document, setting out the roles and responsibilities of those who look after children.

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