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Improving the educational outcomes of Children in Need of help and protection

Interim findings

The ambition of the Children in Need review is that every child should have the opportunity to realise their potential, recognising that where children have faced adversity, trauma, or are disabled, achieving high educational standards often requires high support. This publication sets our findings so far of what is needed, and a guide for action in how schools and social care can best support Children in Need now.

The data which launched the review gave us a stark starting point from which to examine this challenge. At every stage of education, the gap between Children in Need and their peers widens. Yet variation in the data demonstrated potential for closing the difference in outcomes between some Children in Need and others, and between all Children in Need and their peers.

We have sought to understand what makes a difference to educational outcomes. Our findings explain the complex circumstances which lead children to be in need and, as a result of trauma or adversity, the long-term damage that this does to educational outcomes. Beyond immediate help and protection, we must address the barriers to children’s attendance, learning, behaviour, and wellbeing. All and any of these are too important to be compromised.

Our assessment of what is needed to identify and overcome the barriers faced by Children in Need spans leadership and multi-agency working; practitioners’ skills and training in assessing needs, planning support, and building relationships with children and families; and effective educational support itself – ranging from inclusive whole school approaches, to day-to-day adjustments, and targeted specialist interventions. Throughout, we have seen the importance of high aspiration and advocacy for Children in Need.

The work of bridging the gap between what is needed, and the current reality for Children in Need, is what comes next in the review. Based on these findings, we will identify where there are gaps in policy and practice, and what more Government can do to support the change that is needed. Critical to this is continuing to build the evidence: we will continue our partnership with three What Works Centres, including a new analysis of the impact for Children in Need of interventions already evaluated by the Educational Endowment Foundation. Children deserve, and need, support that works. Nothing is beyond consideration. We are prepared to change policy where the evidence shows that is what is needed, and to go further in changing practice on the frontline.