This paper explores the educational experiences of children and young people living in foster care in Queensland. Findings are drawn from the responses of 845 children and 1180 young people to the 2011 Views of Children and Young People in Foster Care survey, which is a rich source of information about children’s and young people’s attitudes towards and perceptions of their own education. Findings relate to educational status, key markers of educational disadvantage including suspensions and exclusions, and specific problems children and young people experience at school, as well as children’s and young people’s enjoyment of school and aspirations for the future. Information about educational support, including Educational Support Plans and support provided by Child Safety Officers and Community Visitors are also presented. Where relevant, comparisons are made between the 2011 survey results and prior surveys conducted in 2006, 2007 and 2009. Relationships between key educational measures as well as relationships to other important measures of health and placement stability are also explored.
The findings suggest that children and young people continue to experience educational disadvantage, including high rates of suspension and exclusion and a range of problems at school including problems with schoolwork, bullying and behaviour and that these difficulties can be exacerbated by the child protection system, for example, through placement instability. However, there are reasons for optimism. Children and young people are overwhelmingly likely to report that they enjoy school, expect to complete Year 12 and that their teachers generally like their schoolwork. Furthermore, over time, the proportions of young people reporting that they have an Educational Support Plan have grown, and, importantly, they are more likely to report that these plans are helpful. Analyses in relation to a number of educational variables reveal that young people with a plan they consider to be helpful fare better. Children and young people were also positive about the important role that CSOs and CVs are able to play in supporting their education.
While educational disadvantage is an enduring problem, the survey findings provide evidence of progress in key areas and suggestions for how continued improvements may be made.