Children in care are missing out on early educational opportunities, a childcare charity has claimed.
Take-up of free nursery and Kindergarten places for children in care aged two to four is almost 15 per cent lower than for other youngsters according to a new report jointly published by the Family and Childcare Trust and the University of Oxford. This figure may be an underestimate, however, as local authority provision for children in care below the age of five is “patchy” the authors claim.
The report highlights the strong links between ‘early years’ education and later success. Nationally 64 per cent of children achieve five GCSE grades at grade C or above – but only 18 per cent of children in care do.
While some local authorities reportedly do quality work with young children the report claims, gaps in the data available across the country suggest many others do not place much focus on early education for children in the care system.
The report suggests that the current responsibility placed on local authorities to support looked after children in school should be extended to pre-primary experiences as well.
Sandra Mathers of the University of Oxford said:
“We know that the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers starts well before primary school, and that good quality early years provision can act as a powerful intervention to help narrow this gap. Many children in care have such a tough start in life; I can think of few groups for whom access to good quality early years education is more important.”
Read Starting out right: early education and looked after children here.