Care leavers ‘listened to’
PUBLISHED: 08:00 26 June 2016
A North Somerset officer who campaigned for more help for children in care – and those leaving care – has praised the council for its recent improvements.
This comes after education watchdog Ofsted expressed ‘deep concerns’ about the education standards in the South West.
Just 14 per cent of children looked after in the South West achieved the benchmark five A*-C GCSEs, including English and maths, last year.
As a result, the body staged a conference last week to discuss how improvements can be made to the education of children in care, as well as improving prospects for care leavers.
A care leaver is defined as someone who has been in care but now no longer qualifies for Government assistance.
Bradley Simmons, Ofsted South West director, said: “I am deeply concerned about the huge gap between the attainment of children in care in the South West and their better-off peers, and what it means for their future prospects.
“There is no doubt that a good education has the power to transform these children’s lives.
“I recognise we cannot do this in isolation. If we are to make a real and lasting difference, then all of us involved in social care and education must work together in collaboration.”
North Somerset Council has already altered a number of policies for those who are no longer in care.
North Somerset’s children’s officer and member of the district’s care leavers, Sophia Tuplin, told the Mercury: “The biggest issue for care leavers is to get people to listen to us.
“I feel North Somerset Council has worked with us and truly listened to our needs and concerns.”
Following her campaign, the council has signed up to a national project called the New Belongings which aims to work with local authorities to improve services for care leavers.
The Mercury understands the council is now making contributions to care leavers’ wi-fi services and giving each person a birthday gift.
A council spokesman said: “We have also set up a forum for care leavers called Unite. This is held monthly and run by care leavers.”