The Educational Progress of Children in Out of Home Care in the UK

  • Julian GardinerEmail author
  • Chrissy Bolton
  • Alastair G. Sutcliffe
  • Edward Melhuish
Part of the Children’s Well-Being: Indicators and Research book series (CHIR, volume 22)


The educational performance of children in Out of Home Care (OHC) in the UK is lower than that of other children. This is largely attributable to the high levels of need of these children rather than to the effect of the OHC environment. A study of the educational progress of OHC children in England was carried out using data on 47,500 children. Educational attainment at ages 7, 11 and 16 was obtained by linking these children to the National Pupil Database. Their educational progress was analysed using Group Trajectory Analysis (GTA), a method which identifies groups of individuals whose outcomes show similar paths over time. GTA identified 5 trajectory groups: low achievement (15.9%), late improvement (7.0%), late decline (20.5%), predominant (43.3%), and high achievement (13.3%). Being taken into care earlier was associated with a higher probability of belonging to the high achievement trajectory group and a lower probability of belonging to the late decline group. For children taken into care aged 7–16, having a longer total time in care by age 16 was associated with a higher probability of belonging to the high achievement trajectory group. We discuss some interventions which may improve the educational attainment of OHC children.


Out-of-home-care / educational outcomes / Group Trajectory Analysis / interventions / U.K. 



Bayesian Information Criterion


Children In Need


General Certificate of Secondary Education


Group Trajectory Analysis


Kids in Transition to School


Key Stage 1 (school years 1–2, children aged 5–6)


Key Stage 2 (school years 3–6, children aged 7–10)


Key Stage 3 (school years 7–9, children aged 11–14)


Key Stage 4 (school years 10–11, children aged 15–16)


Local Authorities


Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care


Out of Home Care


Odds Ratio




Special Educational Needs


Teach Your Children Well


The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Julian Gardiner
    • 1
    Email author
  • Chrissy Bolton
    • 2
  • Alastair G. Sutcliffe
    • 3
  • Edward Melhuish
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EducationUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Institute of Child HealthLondonUK
  3. 3.GAP UnitInstitute of Child HealthLondonUK

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