Trajectories of academic performance among young children in care in England

Eran Melkman, Researcher, Rees Centre for Research in Fostering and Education, Department of Education, University of Oxford, United Kingdom 

Trajectories of academic performance among young children in care in England

Children in care are one of the lowest performing groups in terms of academic performance internationally. Nonetheless, little is known concerning stability or change in the developmental trajectories of academic performance as well as about individual, care and school factors related to deterioration as opposed to those related to stable or improved development. Recently, however, it has become possible to link national data sets on the academic performance and care experiences of these children in England.

The current study exploited this new opportunity with the goal of: a) identifying distinct subgroups of young children demonstrating different trajectories of academic performance over three points in time (ages 5, 7 and 11); and b) examining whether children’s early individual, care and school characteristics predict their membership in these groups.

To this end, the study linked the National Pupil Database (NPD) and the Children Looked after Database (CLAD) in England for the cohort who were aged 11 in 2016. At the focus of this study is a subsample of 1600 children who had been in care at the age of five.

National assessments of literacy and numeracy at age five (Early Years Foundation Stage Profile; EYFSP), seven and 11 (Key Stage 1 and 2) were examined, as well as potential child, placement, and school predictors (e.g., ethnicity, free school meals, type or length of placement, placement changes, or school size).

The presentation will discuss the findings of this nationally representative longitudinal exploration and their implications for policy, practice and the databases used to monitor outcomes.

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