Exam success for youngsters in care

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WEARSIDE’S most vulnerable children are among the brightest in the country, according to new figures.

Youngsters in care with Sunderland City Council are ranked in the top 25 per cent when it comes to exam results.

Last year, 6.5 per cent of the Year 11 children gained five or more A*-C GCSEs, including maths and English.

Ninety-four per cent gained at least one GCSE, putting them sixth in the country.

Mike Foster, deputy director of children’s services at the local authority, said: “When you consider in many authorities a lot of looked-after children don’t make it to the end of school, these are really good achievements.”

Younger children have performed “outstandingly” this year, with provisional figures showing 86 per cent gained level two or above in Key Stage 1 reading, 79 per cent in writing, 86 per cent in maths and 88 per cent in science.

Janet Murray, head of the council’s Virtual School for looked-after children, which was launched two years ago, said it was very difficult to compare year groups because children have very different complex needs and problems.

She said there was often a high percentage of youngsters with special educational needs.

The role of the virtual school is to pull together all people involved in the child’s life, such as teachers, carers and social workers, to ensure the young person is progressing and is consistently exceeding their targets.

Ofsted recently judged the education of children being fostered in the city as “outstanding” and said this was largely due to Sunderland Virtual School.

Councillor Paul Stewart, chairman of children, young people and learning scrutiny committee, said: “The committee acknowledges the excellent work that has been and continues to be achieved with looked-after children in the city.  

“The committee also acknowledges that, as a council, we must continually look to improve all aspects of service delivery for such children.”

He said a working group had been set up to look at a variety of issues associated with looked-after children in the city, in a bid to continue challenging and improving services.

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