Addressing low attainment of children in public care: the Scottish experience

Graham Connelly, Judith Furnivall

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Policy and practice in relation to the education of looked-after children in Scotland have been significantly influenced as a result of two landmark reports, Learning with Care (2001), and Looked After Children: We Can and Must do Better (2007). This paper provides an account of the main policy developments which are set within the distinctive Scottish legal and educational context. The second report, in particular, has been followed by a more strategic approach to implementing change. There is evidence of considerable infrastructural development, both in the looked-after children sector and more widely in education services. There is also evidence of improvement in outcomes, notably in school attendance and the attainment of children in out of home care. While outcomes generally still lag behind those of children who are not looked after, those of children who are looked after while remaining in the family home remain relatively resistant to improvement. This aspect has been neglected in research so far. It is also not well understood how the policy changes have impacted on organisational change and developments in practice.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-104
Number of pages17
JournalEuropean Journal of Social Work
Issue number1
Early online date17 Sep 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • looked after children
  • education
  • children in care


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