Children In Care – Masters Dissertation

(Apologies that diagrams and pictures have not uploaded, there are issues with numbering and spacing becomes irregular towards the end of the document)


What are the issues impacting on the educational achievement of Young People in Care at Key Stage 4?


The aim of this dissertation is to ascertain some of the issues that impact on the capacity of young people in care to achieve GCSEs at age 16. Research highlighted in the study suggests that young people in care under achieve at the end of key stage 4. As a youth worker in the Education of Children in Care (EDCiC) Team in Leicestershire, understanding the barriers and issues affecting attendance and attainment levels are key factors in engaging young people in care in positive learning experiences and improving outcomes.

The study includes a literature review focusing on social policy and changing emphasis, community, social exclusion, youth work principles, learning theory, the European perspective and power, empowerment and anti oppressive practice. A qualitative research approach was employed, to explore individual experiences and feelings. Semi structured, in depth interviews were conducted with 6 participants who spent their teenage years within the care system. They were encouraged to tell their stories and reflect on the issues that impacted on their education whilst they were in care.

Findings from the research and the literature review have informed the discussion and analysis with developing themes around individual circumstances for individual people, multi-layered issues and learning theories. These, in turn, have helped to construct proposals for the summary and way forwards to explore multi agency approaches to providing alternative education environments, tackling the impact of social exclusion and developing emotional literacy, to question the restrictive and limiting parameters of the project targets and to continue to promote youth work principles in the EDCiC team.


I would like to thank Leicestershire Youth Service for affording me the opportunity to work as a youth worker within the Education of Children in Care Team, and for their continued support whilst undertaking my MA, and staff at DMU for their support and guidance.

Thanks also to the individuals in the Youth Service and Education of Young People in Care Team for their time debating relevant issues, for sharing their expertise and knowledge, for bringing to my attention relevant materials and resources and for their continued interest in my studies.

Thank you to my children who have looked after themselves during my studies, and made an excellent job if it, and to my best friend for his unwavering support, strength, encouragement, madness and listening ear.

Most of all, my thanks go to those who gave their time participating in this research by answering endless questions with patience and openness.

As usual, I am grateful to all the young people I work with, from whom I learn far more than they do from me. Continue reading