High achievers

NORFOLK County Council is celebrating the achievements of its looked after children after more than doubling the proportion hitting government targets at GCSE.

Figures published by the Department for Education, show that 24% of looked after children in Norfolk achieved five or more A* to C grades at GCSE, including English and maths, up from 11% in 2010.

The achievement puts Norfolk above the national average, with 13% of children nationally reaching the target, compared with 12% last year.

Although results can fluctuate from year to year because of the low numbers of pupils involved, the results are a record high and represent a significant improvement over the last seven years.

In 2004, just 5.1% of looked after children in Norfolk achieved five A* to C grades, including English and maths. Since then the Virtual School has been created, providing educational activities and targeted support for pupils. The team of specialists provide advice and guidance to children, foster carers and teachers about the issues affecting children in care and the impact on their education.

This year, Norfolk also saw a significant increase in the proportion of looked after children achieving five or more GCSEs at five A* to C, up from 15% in 2010 to 34% in 2011. Nationally, the figure increased from 26% to 31%.

Performance at Key Stage 2 also improved with 38% of children in Norfolk achieving Level 4 or above in English and maths, compared with 24% in 2010. Norfolk is still slightly behind the national average of 40% but has closed the gap considerably. Nationally in 2010, 37% achieved the target.

At Key Stage 1, 77% reached the expected level in reading, compared with 59% nationally; 54% in writing, 52% nationally and 77% in maths, 63% nationally. However, the number of pupils was very low so results are difficult to compare. There are no Norfolk comparators with last year as the number of pupils at Key Stage 1 pupils was too low.

Alison Thomas, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services at Norfolk County Council, said: “We are ambitious for all of Norfolk’s children and young people and, as corporate parents, are proud of the achievements of all of the children in our care.

“Some of our looked after children have faced barriers in accessing education in the past and the difficulties they have experienced at home can often impact on their learning. This is why we have been working so hard to raise the aspirations of these young people and celebrate their successes, via our annual awards ceremony for the Virtual School and via projects that help improve their access to books and learning.

“I would like to congratulate these children, their carers and their teachers on what they have achieved. Of course there is still a long way to go in ensuring that some of these young people are achieving at the level of their peers but we absolutely committed to giving them the support and encouragement they need. The improvements at Key Stage 2 and the strong performance at Key Stage 1, although it only relates to a very small number of children, gives us hope for the future as work to ensure all of the children in our care achieve their potential.”