Children in care are more likely to be excluded from school, statistics reveal


- Credit: Archant

Children in care are five times more likely to be excluded from school in North Somerset, although the gap is narrowing.

The Children's Commissioner for England has warned too many vulnerable children are 'falling through the gaps', and could be open to criminal or sexual exploitation.

Figures from the Department for Education showed 8.9 per cent of children in the care of North Somerset Council were excluded at least once in the 2016-17 academic year.

In comparison, the exclusion rate for the school population as a whole in North Somerset was just two per cent.

In North Somerset, exclusions of children in care have fallen since 2015-16, when they were at 13.1 per cent.

A council spokesman said: "It is often the case that many children looked after have very complex needs, which may result in them experiencing a range of difficulties at school.

"Regrettably, this can result in fixed-term exclusion. North Somerset Council works closely with schools to try to reduce the number of fixed-term exclusions.

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"These interventions, plus the work in schools, have resulted in a reduction in the number of fixed term exclusions. We will continue to work to maintain our children looked after in education."

"'Looked after children' include those living in foster care or in children's homes.

Across England, 11.8 per cent of children looked after by local authorities found themselves excluded at least once in the same school year, up from 9.8 per cent five years ago.

Anne Longfield, the Children's Commissioner for England, said: "Looked after children are some of the most vulnerable children, who should be getting the best education to give them the best chance in life.

"The fact a growing number are being excluded is deeply worrying, not only because they will be missing out on receiving a good education, but also because they are more likely to be at risk of criminal or sexual exploitation.

"Talk to any child in prison, in trouble with the police or caught up in gangs, and they will tell you falling out of school was a trigger point."

The DfE has started a review of exclusion to better understand how schools are using them and why some pupils are excluded more than others.