Educational attainment, the care system and trauma

All educational institutions have a central role in supporting children who have experienced trauma. This has always been the case, but as schools and educators are gaining a greater understanding of the impact of childhood trauma and the power of trauma-aware institutions, this is becoming increasingly crucial. This need as only increased as financial and legislative support is withdrawn from other avenues to support children in the care system and children who have experienced trauma.

The attainment gap between Looked After Children and all other students in England is stubbornly high. At Key Stage 2, where the success indicator is Level 4 in English and Maths, the average gap from 2009 to 2012 was 30 percentage points.

At Key Stage 4, the picture is much more stark – with an average gap of 43 percentage points over the same period. In 2011-12, 15.5% of Looked After Children achieved 5 A*-C with English and Maths. This compares poorly to the remainder of the student population, 58.7% of whom achieved this.

At a time when there is such a strong current of systemic reform within education, the IRCT is seeking to develop a significantly enhanced approach to teacher training and in-school continuous professional development that supports schools and teachers in narrowing this gap. By securing the wave one intervention and making their institutions trauma aware, schools can be at the front line of the essential work of supporting children who have experienced the care system.

We are developing a network of schools that take the impact of trauma upon educational attainment seriously, and seek to alter their practice to support all children. This is a lofty but high stakes goal. Low educational attainment has a damaging knock-on effect on the lives of these young people. There is a paucity of effective practice and practical strategies that can make a difference – and it is the goal of the IRCT to change that.

Contact the IRCT if you want to know more. You may be a school leader with a passion for improving outcomes for Looked After Children, a subject leader, main scale teacher or indeed a young person seeking a different experience of schooling.

Need to know:

1. Schools need to lead in narrowing the LAC attainment gap
2. The LAC attainment gap is stubbornly high
3. Re-focusing teacher training and CPD on narrowing the attainment gap is a priority
4. The IRCT is committed to developing a network of Trauma Aware Schools
5. Professionals should contact the IRCTto learn more