Department for Education
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Big business backs Government plans with private tutors for children in care

Big business backs Government plans with private tutors for children in care

DEPARTMENT FOR EDUCATION AND SKILLS News Release (2007/0109) issued by The Government News Network on 21 June 2007

Big business will offer children in care private tutors, apprenticeships and management training as part of the Government's radical package of measures to give them a better start in life, Education Secretary Alan Johnson announced today.

The Government package is worth £305m of extra cash over the next four years.

Speaking at an event with business leaders in Canary Wharf to launch the Care Matters White Paper, Alan Johnson called on other business leaders to follow suit.

Secretary of State for Education Alan Johnson said:

"For too long society has failed children in care and it is nothing less than a scandal. We should have the same aspirations for these children as we do our own.

"Improving the life chances of children in care must be a priority and I welcome the commitment made today by big business to play their part. With the renewed focus of Government, the support of those who already work so hard to help these vulnerable children and the backing of the business world we should be able to make a real difference to those who have too often suffered."

Measures in the White Paper include a £500 annual education budget for each child in care at risk of falling behind in their education to spend on books and after school activities, and a £2,000 university bursary. Children in care will also have their education overseen by a 'virtual school head', who will take responsibility for all the children in care in their area, working with school staff, local authorities and carers to monitor their progress and improve their educational prospects.

Children in care have also been given the highest priority in school admissions, with an expectation that they will get places in the best schools, even if they are full. They will also get a specific assurance that they won't have to move placement and school in the crucial years 10 or 11, and that other moves must take more account of their education and be reduced where possible.

As part of the White Paper, Local Authorities are to be asked to consider family and friends as carers as a first resort, not a last. The Government is also to legislate to enable relatives who are carers to more easily apply for residence orders.

The Care Matters White Paper will give children the right to stay in care up to the age of 18, or even to remain with foster carers up to the age of 21. For every year children are in care, the Government will contribute £100 to their Child Trust Fund so they start adult life with a nest egg of their own. They will also have the support of a personal advisor up to the age of 25. This should smooth the transition to adulthood and support the young person until they are ready to cope on their own.

Acknowledging the important role that foster carers play in a young person's life, the White Paper will revise the National Minimum Standards for foster care in order to link training with new development standards.

Local Authorities will set out a 'Pledge' about services and support and put in place a 'Children in Care Council', which will give the children in care a forum to express their views and influence services.

Alan Johnson continued:

"We must ensure that children in care receive the security, support and schooling they need to enjoy life's pleasures, reach their full potential and face whatever life throws at them."

Children's Minister Beverley Hughes added:

"There is a significant gap between quality of life and future prospects of children in care and that of other children. Tackling this is going to take urgent, sustained action across central and local government, from practitioners in all aspects of children and young people's lives and from their carers, friends and family. But the support we have had for this White Paper shows that there is an appetite and commitment for change and it is imperative that we work together to make this happen."

The individual education tuition programme is being piloted as part of the Department of Education and Skills Making Good Progress project, but will be supported in four areas by the HSBC Global Education Trust, which has provided £1m for the scheme, and guaranteed places on its training programme for high fliers. HSBC has also pledged additional resources to pilot a programme which provides a bridge for care leavers on to its Management Academy Programme. The "Access to MAP" intends to give care leavers the opportunity to work for HSBC and attend college on a day release basis where they will work towards appropriate vocational qualifications.

Joining the Ministers at the business event to launch the Care Matters White Paper, Dame Mary Richardson, Chief Executive of the HSBC Global Education Trust said:

"One of the primary aims of HSBC Global Education Trust is to improve the life chances of disadvantaged children and to break cycles of deprivation.

"The academic underachievement of looked after children has been well documented. From my own experience as a headteacher I know something personally of their heartbreaking plight. They are particularly vulnerable when they leave care at 16 or 18 years old.

"This is why HSBC Global Education Trust is proud to commit £1m towards providing private tuition to help young people who, through no fault of their own, have missed much schooling and endured many upheavals in their academic life.

"Virtual headteachers will track these children so that they are never lost in the system and will provide support for them, raising their aspirations and giving them the same chances to achieve as other children have. HSBC is delighted to be supporting this initiative."

Kim Daly, a young care leaver said:

"Mistakes were made and things were overlooked when I was in care, so I hope this White Paper will change things for my brother and other young people coming through the care system now. It's good to know that the White Paper includes communication with families before children go into care, as that is really important. No one should have to go through what some of us have had to experience."

BT offers around 450 new apprenticeships a year and has committed to getting care leavers on to their apprenticeship programme. Over the coming months, they will consider the best way of achieving this aim.

The Government believes that the key to generating more of these initiatives for children in care is to encourage networking between the private sector, the third sector and local authorities. We will facilitate a long-term dialogue between private companies and the care system, exploring the potential for building major sponsorship programmes which increase opportunities for children in care across the board. We are already working with companies such as Citi, Deutsche Bank and BSkyB to explore partnership opportunities for work with children in care.

Other measures in the White Paper include:

* an 'Annual Stocktake' event to review the progress of children in care with key stakeholders and representatives of local government, health and young people in care

* Carers will have clear national skills standards to refer to, and significantly increased access to specialist training and support.


NOTES TO EDITORS

Care Matters: Time for Change is available at http://www.dfes.gov.uk/publications/timeforchange

This press notice relates to England.

We are providing over £300m over the next four years to ensure children in care get a better start in life.

We will provide an extra £13.5 million in 2007-08 and £88.9/£95.6/£106.6million over the 2008-11 Comprehensive Spending Review

Within the total funding we have identified a change fund of £22.5m between 2008-2011 to support Local Authorities implementation of the Care Matters programme.

The largest proportion of funding (£66.15m over three years) will be used to improve educational outcomes for children in care.

The single largest allocation of funding is £56.25m between 2008 and 2011 to provide £500 a year to all children in care not reaching the expected educational standards.

The £500 education allowance will be allocated as part of the discussion of a child or young person's Personal Education Plan (part of their statutory care plan). As part of this, children and young people, in discussion with their designated teacher, social worker and carer, will have a central role in how the funding is used. The funding is for additional activities to support their learning and does not replace services that should be provided by the school or local authority.

The HSBC Global Education Trust is funding individual tuition programmes in Dudley, Warwickshire, Merton and Gateshead.

The £2,000 bursary is for every young person in care that goes onto higher education. This bursary is the minimum local authorities should provide for young people in their care and will be available from 2008.

The Government is also publishing a consultation on its revised version of Volume One of the Children's Act 1989 guidance and regulations "Court Orders". Please see http://www.dfes.gsi.gov.uk/consultations for more details.

There are 60,000 children in care at any one time, with as many as 90,000 children spending some time in care over the course of a year.

The majority of children (65%) enter care on a mandatory basis as a result of care orders made by the courts compared with 31% entering on a voluntary basis through agreement between social services and their parents.

Children in care currently under-perform significantly in relation to their peers.

Educational outcomes of children in care have improved:

* 1 GCSE = 49% in year 2000 and 63 % in year 2006
* 5A*-G = 35% in 2000 and 41% in 2006
* 5A*-C = 7% in 2000 and 12% in 2006

But the gap between other children is still too wide: whilst 12% got five good GCSEs in 2006, this compared with 59% for children generally.

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