Exploring the educational experiences and aspirations of Looked After Children and young people (LACYP) in Wales
Older young people and care leavers in our study often felt that their education had not been prioritised and that their potential was not recognised by carers, teachers and social care professionals. It is important that those that work and live with LACYP encourage them with their education, have high expectations of their educational potential, and support their aspirations.
Many LACYP found that having meetings related to their care circumstances during school time was distracting, stressful, stigmatizing and meant losing time in lessons. Meetings, where possible, should be held outside of school hours to allow LACYP to ‘fit in’ and not feel singled out or different, and to allow them to participate fully in education.
Outside of the classroom, the ability of foster and residential carers to support LACYP with school work was found to be crucial. Training for carers needs to
emphasise the importance of LACYP’s education and opportunities for carers to gain additional literacy and numeracy skills and educational qualifications should be prioritised.
Decisions about school moves should be made in consultation with LACYP. Some of the LACYP in our study preferred the idea of having a fresh start, others wanted to remain at their current school to maintain friendships, which may be a strong source of support and stability.
When a child or young person enters care or moves placements, children’s social care and education providers need to communicate early and effectively to ensure that LACYP receive effective and timely support. This support should suit the individual child or young person and not act to single them out or stigmatize them, which many of our participants found hindered their participation in education.