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This publication is available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/review-of-children-in-need/review-of-children-in-need
We are reviewing support for children in need to help us understand why their outcomes are so poor and what further support they might require.
We want to develop the evidence to understand:
- what makes a difference to the educational outcomes of children in need
- what works in practice to improve those outcomes
The review so far
Since our March 2018 data publication, we have conducted a broad programme of qualitative evidence gathering, to understand why children in need of help and protection fall behind and what helps them achieve their potential including through:
a call for evidence which gathered over 600 responses from school and children’s social care practitioners across England
a literature review conducted by the Early Intervention Foundation
deep dive visits and structured conversations with local authority senior managers and social workers across children’s social care and health, teachers, headteachers and school designated safeguarding leads, virtual school heads, voluntary and charity sector organisations, academics, and children and young people themselves
We have involved the following 3 ‘what works’ centres in our assessment of the evidence:
- Education Endowment Foundation
- Early Intervention Foundation
- What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care
We have also expanded on our data analysis exploring how children in need of help and protection experience the children’s social care and education systems and their educational outcomes.
Improving the educational outcomes of children in need of help and protection: interim findings summarises the learning from our evidence gathering, explains barriers to education faced by children in need of help and protection and outlines what is needed to improve their outcomes.
Leaders and practitioners who work with children in need of help and protection should start to act on the best practice identified.
Data and analysis
In March 2018 we released new data and analysis on children in need of help and protection, offering insights into their characteristics, experiences of children’s social care and school as well as their early years, education and adulthood outcomes.
We have built on this analysis by linking Department for Education data sets to look at the number of children in need of help and protection over time, the pathways they take through children’s services and the impact being in need can have on educational outcomes in the short and long term.
We have set out our preliminary findings in children in need of help and protection: preliminary longitudinal analysis. Our key findings include:
- 1.1 million children were in need of help and protection at some point between 2014 to 2015 and 2016 to 2017
- at least 1 in 10 pupils in state schools in 2016 to 2017 had been in need at some point in the previous 6 years
- pupils who were in need at any point between 2011 to 2012 and 2016 to 2017 had worse educational outcomes than pupils who were not. There is a lasting negative impact beyond the point of being in need
- between 2014 to 2015 and 2016 to 2017, 200,000 children were in need for at least one day in all 3 years and had worse educational outcomes than pupils in contact with social care services less frequently
The final part of the review will consider what more government can do to incentivise, equip and support practitioners to realise the change we want to see and we will:
work to bridge the gap between what we have seen works to improve outcomes for children in need and current provision, including policy change where the evidence shows this is what is needed
build more robust evidence of what interventions work to improve the educational outcomes of children in need, and continue to develop our data and analysis of what influences the educational outcomes of children in need
build on existing work to improve outcomes for vulnerable children more widely, particularly to tackle domestic abuse, to address exclusions from school, and to support children and young people’s mental health
Who are children in need?
Children in need of help and protection make up a small minority of all children, those assessed and supported through children’s social care. Over the course of a year, it is estimated that around 6 percent of all children in England will be in need at some point.
Children in need are a group supported by children’s social care, who have safeguarding and welfare needs, including:
- children on child in need plans
- children on child protection plans
- looked after children
- young carers
- disabled children
All of these children have needs identified through a children’s social care assessment or because of their disability, meaning they are expected to require services and support in order to have the same health and development opportunities as other children.