Abused Wigan children not hitting education targets

Abuse shame
Abuse shame

Hundreds of abused children in care in Wigan could be falling short of the expected education standards, according to the town hall.

A recent Freedom of Information Request to Wigan Council has revealed that of the 400 plus children in care, only 10 per cent received five or more “good” GCSEs last year, and only 26 per cent of Key Stage One pupils achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and maths.

The council also reported a huge increase in the number of pupils who had been reported “missing from education” with 12 children missing for “only a few days” or more.

This compares with only two children in 2015/16.

James Winterbottom, director for children’s services said: “We want our children in care to have the best education possible and we take it incredibly seriously as part of our role as corporate parents. This was recently recognised by Ofsted in our recent inspection as a real strength.

“Our schools work in close partnership with our Virtual school team who do an excellent job of identifying and supporting our children and young people in care. We are aware of the increase in children missing education and whilst the numbers are higher, the periods out of education are not prolonged and we have been, or currently are, actively working with each child to support their integration into appropriate education.”

Key Stage Two and Key Stage Three children in social care had slightly better prospects that their younger peers, with 29 per cent of those in care for longer than a year reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths.

Mr Winterbottom added: “The staff in our schools deserve an enormous amount of credit for their hard work and dedication in making sure that all children, no matter what their background, are able to learn and access high quality education.

“We are also committed to ensuring our young people in care receive the best possible support following education and as they leave care, including opportunities through our Confident Future programme. Care leavers aged between 18 and 21 are also exempt from paying council tax which we introduced to support them to establish independence at this crucial time intheir life.”

The shock figures also highlighted the already well-documented issue of domestic abuse in the borough, with more than 300 children entering the care system due to abuse or neglect of varying degrees.

Of the 481 children in care as of March 31 this year, 349 were being looked after because they had been victims of abusive behaviour - three of these were classed as “non-mobile children”.

Comparatively there were seven children being looked after due to disabilities, three for socially unacceptable behaviour and one under private fostering.

A spotlight was shone on the borough’s domestic violence problem earlier this year when figures highlighted a 40 per cent increase in familial crimes year-on-year from 2015 /16 to 2016/17.

Leigh MP Jo Platt already raised concerns about the growing number of violent incidents in the borough in earlier this year to resigned Home Secretary Amber Rudd.