Foster Care: Higher Education

Department for Education written question – answered on 23 December 2022.

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Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Conservative, Romford

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to help support children in foster care to attain a university education.

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Every local authority in England must appoint a Virtual School Head, who has a statutory duty to promote the educational achievement of all children in their care, wherever they live or are educated. Looked-after children draw Pupil Premium Plus funding of £2,410 per child up to age 16, which is managed by the Virtual School Head, to work with the child’s education setting to deliver objectives in their personal education plan (PEP). The PEP should set out the support needed to help realise the short and long-term academic outcomes for each child, and should focus on the child’s strengths, weaknesses, and outcomes they want to achieve, including attaining a higher education placement.

In October 2021 the department launched a £3 million pilot in 30 local authorities for Virtual School Heads to provide targeted support to looked-after children and care leavers in further education. This has now been extended, with an additional £5 million of funding now supporting a total of 58 local authorities in 2022/23.

Furthermore, the Independent Review of Children’s Social Care has made a number of recommendations to increase the proportion of care leavers in higher education. The department is carefully considering the recommendations made in the review, and will publish a detailed and ambitious implementation strategy early in early 2023.

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