Some of Scotland's most vulnerable children continue to fall behind in education despite measures being put in place to support them, according to a report published today [May 31] by the Scottish Parliament's Education and Culture Committee.

Scottish Government figures show that levels of attainment for many looked after children are very low in comparison with other children.

While 56% of school leavers gained five or more qualifications, only 4.7% of children looked after away from home and 0.5% of children looked after at home achieved the same results.

Committee Convener Stewart Maxwell MSP said: "It is clear that the current system for supporting looked after children could be improved and that the attainment gap remains unacceptably wide.

"During the inquiry it became clear that there is a sensitive and difficult balance to be struck between supporting families at home and intervening to remove children from harmful situations. That is why we have agreed to hold a further, detailed inquiry into this area."

It is estimated that there are approximately 16,000 looked after children in Scotland with nearly 5,500 children looked after at home.

In addition to holding a further inquiry, the committee made several other recommendations to offer support to children living in these circumstances including:

• the particular needs of looked after children should be considered in the Scottish Government's early years strategy and its national parenting strategy
• there should be a nationwide effort to ensure that volunteers can play a greater role in supporting looked after children, complementing the work of trained professionals
• there should be a nationwide means of recording looked after children's wider educational achievements, rather than focussing solely on their exam results
• better training on the particular needs of looked after children should be provided to all relevant children's services professionals. 

For a full copy of the report go to www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/41975.aspx 

Posted 31/05/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com