Exam results soar for Norfolk’s children in care

The exam results of Norfolk's looked after children have improved. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

The exam results of Norfolk's looked after children have improved. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire - Credit: PA

The exam results of some of the most vulnerable primary-aged children in Norfolk have soared in recent years and overtaken the national average, according to new government data.

Children in care historically perform worse than their peers at school, and in recent years Norfolk's children in care have performed worse than children in care in other parts of England.

However, new figures for 2014-15 have shown the percentage of looked after children in Norfolk reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths by the time they leave primary school almost trebled in three years, from 19pc to 55pc.

The England average was 52pc last year, while the figures for Suffolk and Cambridgeshire were 39pc and 29pc respectively.

These still left a big gap between children who are in care and those who are not, with 80pc of all primary school children in England, and 76pc in Norfolk, reaching the expected standard in 2014-15.

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James Joyce, chairman of the Children's Services Committee at Norfolk County Council, said: 'The improvements recorded by Norfolk's looked after children are staggering and I would like to congratulate them, their schools and foster carers on their hard work.

'These children have had a difficult start in life and we must not let that impact on their future success. That is why I am so pleased to see our looked after children are catching up with their peers in every area of their education, at a time when performance overall in Norfolk is improving.'

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In recent years, there has been an increasing focus on making sure children from disadvantaged backgrounds, especially those who are in care, do well in school, and the school inspectorate Ofsted has made this one of its priorities for the East of England.

Of the 100 looked after children in Norfolk who were eligible to take GCSEs last year, 19pc achieved the government's target of at least five GCSEs at A*-C, including English and maths, compared to a national average of 14pc.

Across all children, the Norfolk figure was 55pc, and the England average was 57pc.

Chris Snudden, head of Norfolk County Council's education achievement service, said it had done a lot of work with schools to ensure pupil premium plus funding, extra money the government gives schools raise the attainment of looked after children, was used effectively.

She added: 'We introduced a pupil premium strategy and toolkit in 2015 in order to better support and challenge schools to raise the levels of achievements of vulnerable groups, such as children in care and those eligible for free school meals, and worked with them to develop effective audit tools to use in school and for governing bodies.

'The local authority's Virtual School for Looked After Children provides additional targeted interventions and one to one support, and monitors the daily attendance of looked after children and tracks their progress each term.'

Do you have an education story? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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