Raising the attainment, achievement and aspiration of children who are looked after

Children who are looked after still face barriers to attainment and achievement in learning.

The latest Welsh Government statistics show there is still a wide gap between the attainments of children who are looked after and that of other pupils. But schools and local authorities across Wales are taking action to support children who are looked after, helping them fulfil their potential and raise their aspirations.

Estyn’s report, ‘Raising the attainment, achievements and aspirations of children who are looked after in Wales’  focuses on examples of best practice in schools and local authorities.  These are illustrated by a series of case studies.

Meilyr Rowlands, Chief Inspector, says,

"Nearly half (45%) of children who are looked after are not engaged in education, training or employment (NEET) or in touch with their local authority at the age of 19. This compares with around 5% of other children. This report shows that with commitment, determination and a clear strategic vision, gaps in attainment can be tackled and reduced.”

The findings

The report found that the schools and local authorities that are most effective in supporting children who are looked after had many features in common:

  • strong pastoral support at times of crisis or personal difficulty

  • effective tracking to monitor progress

  • personal education plans focused on clear outcomes, including goals for personal development and independence

  • a willingness to listen to and use feedback from children and carers

  • regular staff training

  • senior leaders who recognise the need for additional support and guidance, and ensure it happens

The best practice case studies illustrate a wide range of strategies to support children who are looked after.  

Brynteg Comprehensive School

The school uses the pupil deprivation grant for looked after children  to provide additional support and resources for pupils, to widen their cultural experiences and to work with foster carers.  It involves pupils and carers in decisions on how to use the grant funding to support everything from additional tuition or literacy and maths “bootcamps” to revision packages, after-school clubs and holiday activities.   

Pupils enjoy school and have opportunities to participate fully in school life.  At 95%, the attendance of children who are looked after is higher than the average for other pupils. There have been no permanent exclusions in the last three years and the number of fixed-term exclusions is very low.

At key stage 3, many pupils achieved the expected level for their age in the core subjects.  All pupils at GCSE achieved the level 1 and level 2 indicators.


The report recommends that schools and local authorities should build on the many examples of best practice identified in this report.

Regional consortia could improve how they plan for support grants to ensure schools are clear on the priorities for grant use.  Their planning also needs to take enough account of the complex needs of children who are looked after

The Welsh Government should consider broadening performance measures to include progress relative to the child’s starting point and extending beyond statutory school age. It also needs to ensure that the regional consortia’s spending plans are appropriate to local need and based on a sound analysis of the needs of children who are looked after

Notes to Editors:

AbouAbout the report

  • Estyn’s report was commissioned by the Welsh Government and is available in full at http://www.estyn.gov.wales/thematic-reports

  • It considers the following areas of provision:

    Good practice in schools


  • Curriculum and enrichment
  • Tracking
  • Mentoring and support for emotional wellbeing
  • Transition and education placement
  • Professional development for staff
  • Learner voice
  • Partnerships with parents and carers
  • The role of governors
  • Pupil Deprivation Grant for looked after children (PDG/LAC)

Good practice in local authorities

  • Local authority policy
  • Local authority strategy
  • The role of elected members
  • Management information systems
  • Placement decisions
  • The role of the looked after children’s education (LACE) co-ordinator
  • Work with parents and carers
  • Evaluating interventions and sharing best practice

Inspectors visited the following schools, local authorities and consortia:


  • Amberleigh Residential Therapeutic School, Welshpool
  • Bishop Gore School, Swansea
  • Brynteg Comprehensive School, Bridgend
  • Colcot Primary, Vale of Glamorgan
  • Cwrt Sart Community Comprehensive School, Neath Port Talbot
  • Ferndale Community School, Rhondda Cynon Taff
  • Greenfield Special School, Merthyr Tydfil
  • Maerdy County Primary, Rhondda Cynon Taff
  • Penybont Primary School, Bridgend
  • Risca Community Comprehensive School, Caerphilly
  • Rumney Primary School, Cardiff
  • Tonyrefail Comprehensive, Rhondda Cynon Taf
  • Woodlands Children’s Development Centre, Wrexham
  • Ysgol Dyffryn Conwy, Conwy
  • Ysgol y Castell, Carmarthenshire
  • Ysgol y Gogarth, Conwy

Local authorities

  • Carmarthenshire County Council
  • City of Cardiff Council
  • City and County of Swansea
  • Conwy County Council
  • Pembrokeshire County Council
  • Torfaen County Borough Council

Regional Consortia

  • Central South: comprising Rhondda Cynon Taf, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend and the Vale of Glamorgan
  • EAS: comprising Blaenau Gwent, Caerphilly, Monmouthshire, Newport and Torfaen
  • ERW: Carmarthenshire, Powys, Ceredigion, Swansea and Neath Port Talbot
  • GWE: comprising Conwy, Denbighshire, Flintshire,
  • Gwynedd, Wrexham and Anglesey

The report took account of previous Estyn surveys, inspection findings and data.It considered a range of other reports and research about learner experiences and education other than at school, including research commissioned by the Welsh Government.


Publication date

Tuesday, 5 July, 2016