Measuring ‘stability’ using national care and educational data

Nikki Luke, Researcher, Rees Centre, University of Oxford, England 

A recent study by Sebba et al. (2015) used English national databases on children’s care and educational experiences to identify the factors that facilitate or limit educational progress for young people in care at age 16. An extensive period of data preparation on this project included the creation and selection of variables to represent stability in care placements and in education.  This new presentation will cover the variables available in the English National Pupil Database and the data on Children Looked After that formed our original data, the numerous options available for conceptualising ‘stability’ using these data, and the relationships each of these options had with educational attainment. Differences in the meaning of each option will be discussed in terms of the child’s experience and the implications for policy and practice. Limitations of the national data for measuring stability will also be outlined.  The aim of the presentation is to provoke a discussion about how we conceptualise stability, the decisions taken by researchers and governments when reporting on this outcome, and what this means for comparisons between international care systems.


Sebba, J., Berridge, D., Luke, N., Fletcher, J., Bell, K., Strand, S., Thomas, S., Sinclair, I., & O’Higgins, A. (2015). The educational progress of looked after children in England. Oxford: Rees Centre/Bristol: University of Bristol.

Key-words: stability, placements, education, databases

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