Education Minister supports ‘Foster Care Fortnight’

Date published: 01 June 2015

Education Minister John O'Dowd has welcomed this year's 'Foster Care Fortnight' which recognises the excellent work to support children in foster care.

Speaking at the start of Foster Care Fortnight  which aims to raise awareness of foster care, John O’Dowd  said:

“I pay tribute to all those working to improve the educational outcomes and life chances for looked-after children and young people, including those working within education and health and organisations such as Fostering Network and, not least, foster parents.”

Highlighting the ongoing support which the Department of Education provides for looked-after children in education, the Minister said:

“My Department provides annual funding of £82,000 to the Fostering Network for its Fostering Achievement Educational Initiatives to provide GCSE revision classes to young people in care. This includes the Letterbox Club through which children and young people are sent age specific books to their home, encouraging them to read along with their foster parents.

Summer schemes are also provided for primary school children and a summer ‘Pathway’ programme for older young people who may wish to consider the prospect of going on to Further or Higher Education.

Personal Education Plans provide a pathway through education for looked-after children and young people and should outline how the educational needs of the young person will be met. From April last year, I have ensured that schools that have looked-after children on their register will receive additional funding so that they can provide specific support to those pupils.”

The Education Minister continued:

“The evidence tells us that many looked-after children underachieve in education.  20.9 % of looked-after children left school in 2013/14 with atleast 5GCSEs at grades A*-C or equivalentincluding GCSEs in English and Maths.

My expectations for looked-after children are no less than for any other child which is why I have commissioned the development of a policy for their educational needs. I support all efforts to assist looked-after children to improve their educational outcomes and to reach their full potential.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Department of Education’s ‘Education Works’ campaign promotes the value of education. This year’s campaign aims to ensure that parents have information on schooling and that they are aware of the steps they can take to ‘Get Involved’ and support their teenager in achieving good outcomes at school. Watch out for the ads on television, radio and outdoor locations. The campaign highlights the vital role families can play in helping children do well at school and improve their life chances.
  2. Visit nidirect for more information or watch the TV ad on the Department’s YouTube channel.
  3. See photos from the Department of Education in our Flickr collection 
  4. Media enquiries to the Department of Education Press Office Tel: 028 9127 9207. Out of office hours, contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 99 715 440, and your call will be returned.

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