An epidemiological study of participation in secondary schooling by children receiving social care in England

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Institute of Child Health


Education is universally considered to be a fundamental human right protected by a range of international human rights instruments. In England, education is essentially compulsory from age 5 to 18. Its importance stems partly from its very strong and consistently observed associations with a range of health outcomes across life including mortality, a range of chronic disease and general well-being. However, some groups of children in England are more likely to miss out on schooling, including children looked after (CLA) and children in need (CiN). These are groups of children to whom to the state has particular obligations erga their welfare and education, primarily through children's social care (CSC) services deliverd by local authorities (LAs). The factors that influence why these groups are more likely to miss schooling, however, are poorly understood. In this thesis, I aim to:

1. Understand the existing evidence base through a systematic review of educational outcomes in samples representative of the population of UK children who receive CSC services compared to children who do not.
2. Use administrative data to identify a cohort or cohorts of children in England whom I can follow up across their school careers and CSC careers in order to describe those trajectories and define CSC exposure.
3. Understand variation between LAs in the extent to which children miss school by CSC exposures, accounting for individual-level factors (such as gender and special educational needs) and contextual-level ones (such as type and quality of school).

Findings from this study will inform CSC and education sectors as to likely outcomes for these vulnerable children. There will also be relevance for healthcare and other services for children.


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Description Ministry of Justice 
Organisation Ministry of Justice
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This was a pilot of the Ministry of Justice's (MoJ) Children in Family Justice Data Share (CFJDS). We analysed data in the MoJ's secure data lab and provided feedback on the data source and access facilities. A report, which will be fed back to ministers, is in the final stages of preparation and will soon be published.
Collaborator Contribution The MoJ provided access to the data source and secure data lab on their premises.
Impact A report has been published at Members of the team have expertise in law, epidemiology, statistics and social welfare.
Start Year 2018