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  1. ITV Report

School children in care face 'shocking' disruption, new figures show

In some local authorities, nearly one in ten children in care moved schools on average once a term or more. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire

Nearly a thousand children in care have had to attend three or more schools in one academic year, according to shocking new figures seen by ITV News.

The numbers, obtained via a Freedom of Information request by think-tank the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ), point at a wider problem of the instability faced by many vulnerable young people.

Despite making up less than 1% of young people, care leavers make up 24% of the adult prison population, 11% of young homeless people and 70% of sex workers.

1%
The number of care leavers as a proportion of the population.
24%
of the adult prison population were once in care.

And those leaving the care system are twice as likely not to be in education, employment or training at the age of 19 than the rest of the population.

Campaigners warn that disrupted education adds to the challenges faced by children in care, and say further checks need to be done to ensure local agencies are meeting their needs.

Watch Social Affairs Editor Penny Marshall's piece on the young people who, having already faced the emotional insecurity of being brought up in care, faced upheaval during their education.

'Shocking figures' In some local authorities, nearly one in ten children in care moved schools on average once a term or more, according to the data obtained by the CSJ from 124 councils.

In the five worst areas, as many as 10% of students in care during their GCSE year had to move schools on average once a term or more.

In Milton Keynes, one of the worst-performing areas, that proportion was more than a third.

Alex Burghart, policy director of the CSJ, said the figures were "truly shocking" and "reveal an unacceptable level of disruption to the lives of vulnerable children in care".

Children are taken into care in order to give them a second chance. Too often they have had a dysfunctional family life and so the care they receive should be the absolute best possible.

Care leaders should want the same outcomes for children in care as they would want for their own children. No parent would like to see their children moving schools three or four times in a year. This will inevitably have a terrible impact on their education and their chances of finding work when they leave.

– Alex Burghart, CSJ policy director