More care leavers drop out of education, Cardiff Uni study finds

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Media captionGraduate Wayne Kwenda: "You haven't got the same support that other students have in terms of family support"

Decisive action is "desperately needed" to help children in care achieve more in education, according to a new report.

Cardiff University researchers found only 8% of care-leavers progress to full time education by the age of 19 compared with 43% of all young people.

They said communication between schools and care agencies needed to improve.

The Welsh government, which commissioned the study, said the findings would inform a new strategy.

Graduate Wayne Kwenda from Abercarn, Caerphilly county, who had been in care in England before enrolling on an engineering degree at the University of South Wales in Cardiff, said: "I think the most difficult part of being a care leaver is that you haven't got the same support that other students have in terms of family support."

'Engrained negative patterns'

The research, which included focus groups with "looked-after" children, also found many foster carers have "low educational attainment" which the report said could be tackled by providing additional training and qualifications.

Lead report author Dr Dawn Mannay, from Cardiff University's School of Social Sciences, said Wales was "struggling to escape engrained negative patterns with low levels of educational attainment" among young people in care.

She added: "The young people we spoke to stated that the barriers they face are wide-ranging and exist at every stage of their educational journey, beginning very early on with stigma being attached to them by teachers and peers as a result of their 'looked-after' status, which has a substantial and often lasting negative impact on their subsequent attainment and achievement."

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