Department for Education
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£56 million Government fund for children in care to get personal tutors, homework support and theatre trips
Fresh guidance out today will help local authorities organise personal tutors, homework support and educational trips to the theatre for children in care, backed with £56 million of funding.
Children in care at risk of falling behind at school are getting an extra £500 a year to pay for the sort of activities that good parents provide for their children to help with their learning - ranging from personal tutors to educational trips to the theatre.
This is in recognition of the poor educational outcomes for children in care, only 13% of whom attain five good GCSEs compared with 62% of all children.
Secretary of State for Children Ed Balls and Children's Minister Kevin Brennan also issued guidance today to local authorities on how to provide £100 top up payments for children in care's Child Trust Fund (CTF) for every year they spend in care. This will allow children in care to build up a nest egg to help them when they leave care.
The CTF is a long-term savings and investment account for all children born on or after 1 September 2002. The CTF was launched to strengthen the saving habit of future generations, promote financial education and ensure that at age 18 every child has access to a financial asset. The Government gives every eligible child at least £250 to start the fund with a further payment of £250 when a child turns seven.
Secretary of State for Children Ed Balls said: "It's never too early to encourage children to think about money and saving for the future and we want to ensure that every child, no matter what their background, has the financial skills to achieve whatever they want in life.
"The Child Trust Fund provides young people with a very useful nest egg, which helps them think about saving for the future and our financial education programme will give them the skills and confidence they need to manage their money well.
"This is especially important for children leaving care, who do not have the same support networks that other children have. We want them to be able to pay for something like a computer or driving lessons that will help them in their future life and employment. We have also provided bursaries for those children leaving care who might like to go on to university. These vulnerable children should get all the support they need to make their way through life."
Children's Minister Kevin Brennan said: "A recent Ofsted report shows that if we are to narrow the gap between children in care and their peers we need to have the same ambitions for them and offer them the same opportunities too, such as out of school activities and educational trips.
"When we consulted with children in care they also said they wanted the same boundaries as other children - they want people to take an interest in their education, make sure they go to school, do their homework and prepare for exams. They want to be able to lead 'normal' lives.
"We need to change how society views these children and no longer accept that they should be allowed to fail. We need everyone working in health, social care and education to work on behalf of these children and make a real difference to how they get on in life."
A recent Ofsted report has shown that schools can make significant progress to improve educational outcomes for children in care by:
* Having high expectations and good teaching for all
* Keeping looked after children engaged in and taking responsibility for their learning;
* recognising that looked after children may be gifted and talented;
* Close monitoring of academic, social and personal progress;
* Keeping looked after children involved in learning outside the classroom and after school activities;
* Unified but low profile support in school for each looked after child so that they are not made to feel different from other children;
* Swift and early intervention if a problem began to emerge, for example with behaviour or attendance;
* The successful engagement of carers and parents wherever possible.
Local Authorities will be asked to provide personal education allowances for all their children in care who are at risk of not reaching the expected national standards of attainment. All children are expected to achieve at least a level two in reading, writing and mathematics at key stage one; level four in English, mathematics at key stage two; level five in English, mathematics at key stage three; and Five A* - C grades at GCSE including English and maths, or equivalent.
They will be asked to pay particular attention to particularly vulnerable groups of children who have recently become looked after, have spent multiple periods in care, have been placed out of authority, are in a residential children's home, have moved school, are not in main stream education or have additional learning needs. However, the fund should not be restricted to children in exam or test years.
The Child Trust Fund is a long-term savings and investment account for children. The Government introduced the CTF to ensure all children have savings at the age of 18, get children into the habit of saving, teach them about the benefits of saving and help them understand personal finance.
In September 2007 Ed Balls and Treasury Minister Kitty Ussher announced an £11.5 million boost to personal finance education with a new programme to teach children the financial skills to help them manage their personal finances. In this children will be taught how to open a bank account, understand basic financial concepts like interest rates and learn important skills to plan for their financial future.
Teachers have been asked to use CTFs as a way of talking about financial education in maths lessons. A range of financial materials will be based upon the CTF, allowing teachers to bring finance to life via the children's CTFs.
NOTES TO EDITORS
The guidance is available from http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/childrenincare.
Funding is allocated the basis of the numbers of looked after children in each authority.
On 27 March we launched the Care Matters implementation plan. The publication of this statutory guidance follows on from the implementation plan. It will form part of the Care Matters 'resource base' on the website http://www.everychildmatters.gov.uk/socialcare/childrenincare.
The White Paper Care Matters: Time for Change set out the Government's commitment to introduce a £500 personal education allowance for looked after children at risk of not reaching expected standards of education.
The Treasury launched the Child Trust Fund to strengthen the saving habit of future generations, promote financial education and ensure that at age 18 every child will have access to a financial asset. Parents open the CTF account for their child with the help of a £250 voucher from the Government to start it off (less well-off families get an extra £250). The Government then makes further payments of £250 into all CTF accounts at age 7, with children in lower income families receiving an extra £250.
The Ofsted report Looked after children - good practice in schools is available at http://www.ofsted.gov.uk
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