A joint research study by Bristol and Oxford universities has found children in foster care perform better at school than children who are left with their birth families under the supervision of social services. There is a concern that children in care lag behind their classmates however; this study suggests foster placements improve the educational performance of vulnerable children.
To conduct this study, researchers compared the test results of thousands of children at the end of primary school to their GCSE results. Of the 640,000 children examined in 2013, 13,599 were deemed to be ‘in need’ living with their families, while 4,849 were in foster care. Between these two groups of children, the gap in educational achievement is estimated to be 6 GCSE grades although; both groups were still below the average for children in the general population.
The researchers have concluded that the stability and security offered from foster care is the reason for improved educational progress with David Berridge, Professor of Child and Family Welfare at the University of Bristol, commenting: “In interviews, young people told us that coming into care had benefited them educationally. They said they could only do well at school once they felt safe and secure… Carers, teachers and social workers need to work together to achieve this.”
To read an overview of the Educational Progress for Looked After Children report, in PDF.