Higher Education: Children in Care

Department for Education written question – answered on 15 March 2016.

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Photo of Craig Whittaker Craig Whittaker Conservative, Calder Valley

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to increase the number of looked-after children who apply to attend university.

Photo of Edward Timpson Edward Timpson Minister of State (Education)

The Government wants all children to reach their full potential. Looked-after children have priority in admission arrangements so they have the chance to go to schools that best meet their needs. In 2014 we increased the pupil premium rate for looked-after children from £900 to £1900, and the role of Virtual School Heads (VSHs) became statutory.

Local authorities have a duty under the Children Act 1989 to promote the educational achievement of children they look after wherever they are placed and VSHs are responsible for ensuring that duty is discharged. Statutory guidance makes clear that local authorities should have the same high aspirations for the children they look after as any good parent. That includes choosing schools for them that are judged by Ofsted as good or outstanding and supporting them to make maximum progress.

In addition:

  • looked-after children and care leavers are eligible for the 16-19 Bursary, worth £1200 each year, to continue in full-time education;
  • care leavers pursuing a recognised course of higher education receive a £2000 Higher Education Bursary; and
  • we have made it easier for care leavers to return to education up to the age of 25 by requiring local authorities to support them with a personal adviser and a pathway plan while they are on their agreed course.

The Department for Education is currently working with other government departments, including the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, to explore what more can be done to support looked-after children and young people to progress in education and training and make a successful transition to adulthood.

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