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Written Statement - Raising the ambitions and educational attainment of children who are looked after in Wales.

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We want to see all children whatever their backgrounds, being given every possible opportunity to reach their full potential.
Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills and Mark Drakeford, Minister for Health and Social Services

In January 2015 we jointly published a consultation to better support looked after children in Wales in improving their levels of educational attainment. In plenary on 3 February 2015 the Minister for Education and Skills committed to provide Assembly Members with an update of the progress on this work.

We would like to take this opportunity to inform Members that our joint education strategy – Raising the ambitions and educational attainment of children who are looked after in Wales - has been published today.

The strategy identifies areas where action needs to be targeted to better support the education of children who are looked after. It focusses primarily on action to support children and young people of compulsory school age, but also ensures that arrangements take account of the need for effective transition to further or higher education and employment.

An accompanying action plan sets out the Welsh Government’s commitment through individual actions, working with all key partners, to improve educational outcomes for children who are looked after. Delivery against the action plan will be monitored annually, using data sources to check progress and ensure the support which is in place is working effectively.  

We are delighted to have worked closely with the Fostering Network, Voices From Care and Cardiff University Children's Research Centre, CASCADE – Cardiff University throughout last year to ensure the strategy reflects the views and experiences in education of foster carers and the children and young people themselves. This work has strengthened considerably our understanding of the challenges faced by children and their carers, and we will look for further opportunities to build on the work so far.

We are grateful for their help and support in this very important work and also of all those organisations and individuals who contributed to the consultation, and at two very well attended events in north and south Wales.

The strategy and action plan includes details of the work undertaken with the Fostering Network, Voices From Care and CASCADE - Cardiff University.

The publication of this strategy is the first step in a concerted aim by the Welsh Government to ensure sustained improvements in all outcomes for looked after children which will impact positively on every aspect of their lives. Work is already underway on the development of a national approach for looked after children that will help reduce the number of children entering care, improve outcomes for children already in care and provide better opportunities for care leavers.  A Strategic Steering Group has been established to take a cross-government strategic approach to looked after children, focusing on prevention and early intervention, improved collaborative working and sharing of best practice. We will also carefully consider how we can introduce independence into that process to ensure sufficient rigour. The Welsh Government will be commissioning further work in this area in the coming months.