Looked After Children, poor academic achievement and transition into NEETdom – how can we change this dynamic?

Graham Baker, Chief Executive Officer,

Outcomes First Group

Graham Baker, Chief Executive Officer, Outcomes First Group, a leader in the provision of high outcome education and therapeutic care for children and adults with autism, complex needs and Social Emotional and Mental Health (SEMH) issues discusses  the poor academic achievement of Looked After Children and what we can do to change this dynamic.


Looked After Children, poor academic achievement and transition into NEETdom – how can we change this dynamic?


It’s a fact. Looked After Children (LAC) do not achieve well in education. Their attainment gaps are still too wide compared with all other children in the country.


According to the DfE in 2016 only 17.5% of Looked After Children achieved an A*-C in English and mathematics compared to 53.0% of mainstream students nationally.  How can we change this persistent dynamic and help some of society’s most disadvantaged children realise their true potential?


I believe that the secret to better results and improved life chances lies in providing these children with ‘constants’ throughout their lives – because most issues happen when things change for them, be it school, where they reside, or clinical support.


At present LAs – the legal guardian of these children responsible for their care and education – are more often than not and especially with hard to place children left with no other option but to choose short term placement options over investment in the long term. We all know that the earlier a child receives therapeutic intervention, the lower the level of support required longer term. Young children and adolescents who are misplaced and bounced around the system often end up in Pupil Referral Units, young offenders’ institutions, jail or become NEETs.


If we are to achieve positive outcomes and equal opportunities for these children then a change in the approach is required, including more central control over the choice of care home, care pathway, school or fostering family. The benefits are clear – if fragile children are provided with the necessary support to help them become confident young adults they will ultimately be placed in a position to contribute to society. This will also help achieve significant long term savings in the public sector.



About Graham Baker, CEO, Outcomes First Group


Graham has over 25 years’ experience in the special education and healthcare sectors, having worked with a number of significant operators, as well as setting up and running his services.


Graham is responsible for driving the strategic direction of the Outcomes First Group, ensuring steady and sustainable growth whilst maintaining the quality of service delivered.

Back Care Awareness Week Back Pain in Education

The annual Back Care Awareness Week, run by BackCare, the UK’s leading charity for those impacted by back or neck pain, is to take place between 2 and 6 October.  The theme this year is Back Pain in Education.

Back pain is one of the top common causes of absence from work throughout the country.   It costs the UK economy around £15 billion every year as over four million working days are lost as a result of the condition.  Furthermore, about 80% of the UK population will suffer from back pain at some point in their lives.

BackCare decided it was important to run a campaign targeted at children and young people as many of the back and neck pain problems experienced by adults are due to them not looking after their backs during childhood and teenage years.

Dr Brian Hammond, the Chair of BackCare said:

“Early teaching of children and young people of the importance of taking care of their backs, and the consequences of not doing so, is bound to have a positive effect on the health of their backs as adults.

He added:

“There are simple things children and young people can do, such as sitting properly and not for too long, exercising regularly, stretching and lifting correctly.  They also need to know how to carry their school books and equipment in a way that does not harm their back or neck.”

BackCare has packs for distribution to schools, colleges and other educational institutions.  They contain posters, leaflets, booklets, bookmarks, and pamphlets.  All of these items give sound advice and guidance on various aspects of the back and how to look after it.  They are available from BackCare at a cost of £9.95 per pack plus postage and packaging.

This year’s campaign is being run in partnership with a community interest company, known as kidsbacks4thefuture.  This Essex based company, run by Lyndee Oscar, a registered osteopath with 25 years experience, has done some effective and innovative work with schools.

During the week, many organisations will be supporting the campaign and the Chair of BackCare will be available for media interviews.   To participate please contact Anusha Vamedeva on 020 8977 5474 or info@backcare.org.uk



Note to Editors:

BackCare is the national charity for those impacted by back and neck pain.  It is a membership organisation that has been in existence for nearly 50 years.  The charity provides information and advice on a wide range of issues relating to back and neck pain.

Back Care Awareness Week is a successful annual campaign which has a different theme every year.

A number of organisations are supporting BackCare with this campaign.


For further information, please contact:

Anusha Vamadeva email: anusha.vamadeva@backcare.org.uk or tel: 020 8977 5474



Acquisition of B11 Education Ltd adds ‘whole school improvement’ to Premier’s multi-faceted services

A world-leading UK sports education provider has purchased highly-successful school improvement company B11 Education Ltd, with the aim to enhance the quality of education available to thousands of children across the country.

In a move to further its vision to ‘Educate and Activate the World’, Premier—best known as the owners of Premier Sport—has purchased B11 Education Ltd, a high-quality school improvement organisation that provides advice and guidance to schools, local authorities and multi-academy trusts across the UK.

The acquisition will allow B11 to expand from its base in the north, offering their diverse range of services across the country and improving their systems and infrastructure in an effort to drive growth more quickly. With programmes in sport, the arts, health and wellbeing, Premier provides schools, children and parents with healthy initiatives intended to Educate and Activate the World. Now with the addition of B11, Premier will be able to expand the services it offers by providing solutions not only to a school’s physical activity and wellbeing needs, but for their educational improvement too.

‘We have deployed inspirational expertise into schools for many years now, and essentially this acquisition enables us to continue to do that with a much broader set of skills and experts,’ said Premier Education Group CEO David Batch.

Beginning just seven years ago, B11 Education has assembled a network of highly-regarded consultants that specialise in school improvement. From training courses to whole-school reviews, through to advising education professionals, schools and governors, B11 supports school improvement across a wide range of areas in both the primary and secondary sectors.

The merging of B11 under the Premier umbrella will see former CEO Mr Anthony Briggs stay on as Principal Consultant and take a position on the Premier Education Group board. Additionally, an extended management team will assist B11 to further accelerate the company’s growth. Premier has been managing B11 since February 2017 and the company will receive updated branding and styling beginning in September.

For more information about B11 Education and Premier, please email efrancis@premier-education.com

Research reveals concussion is a growing concern for education sector

Research¹ by specialist insurer, Ecclesiastical, has revealed that more than a third of educational establishments are concerned about the risks associated with students playing contact sports.

When asked how worried they were about a series of emerging risks, 34% of the schools, universities and other education establishments polled by the specialist insurer said they were concerned about the risks involved with playing sports such as rugby.

Angus Roy, education director at Ecclesiastical, said: “There have been a number of high profile concussion cases in the media in recent years, with calls in some quarters for schools to only allow pupils to play non-contact versions of sports such as rugby. So it’s not surprising that this is an area of concern for schools.

“As a specialist education insurer, we provide schools and our other education customers with advice and guidance on the best ways to manage concussion risks. Although rugby in schools has been the topic hitting the headlines, it’s important for schools to consider this risk more broadly.

“After all, concussion can result from a wide range of sports, including boxing and hockey, but also in other school activities, particularly where there is a risk of young people falling from height or onto hard surfaces.”

Ecclesiastical has an information sheet on managing the concussion risks associated with playing contact sport in schools. You can see it here.

New product from British company Safety Pads makes pre-school nurseries and schools safer places

Sept 4th 2017. Wakefield, Yorkshire. Safety Pads [Safety-Pads.co.uk] has announced a colour range of custom fit safety pads and post protectors for pre-school nurseries and schools. The products are designed to decrease the likelihood of impact injuries in the nursery, school and playground.

Made from high grade foam, specially selected for impact reduction, the products can be made to fit almost any surface and instantly render posts or sharp corners harmless, reducing the number of accidents, recorded injuries and, in extreme cases, lawsuits.

Neal Spencer, Managing Director of Safety Pads, says, “We have been producing foam products for the wider market for over three decades, including all the goal post protectors for the Rugby World Cups. Our products are not only the highest quality out there but our customers can trust that they are being made by one of the oldest and most trusted foam companies in the UK – and one of the biggest in Europe.”

Safety Pads is part of the GNG Group of companies, manufacturing a range of quality foam products across safety, sports and play, sleep and healthcare and specialises in international white label services. Based in Yorkshire, all of the company’s products are manufactured in its Wakefield based factory.

“As opposed to some of the other alternatives, our products are made right here in the UK and have a much greater level of quality control. We take pride in our ‘Made in Britain’ status and we strive to maintain the levels of quality that this statement represents” continues Spencer.

More details – and product case studies – can be found at www.safety-pads.co.uk

About Safety-Pads.co.uk

Part of GNG Group, Safety Pads is the leading manufacturer of bespoke safety solutions in many industries around the world, from sports to construction to education. The company has built its reputation single-handedly since 2002. From the initial specifications to the installation of the solution, Safety Pads specialists handle the safety of customers’ premises so they don’t have to.

Over the last 35 years GNG has been established as an international brand leader in the healthcare, sports, safety, and lifestyle industries. GNG manufactures all of its products in the UK and has a 30,000 ft² manufacturing facility in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

More Information

Neal Spencer – email: neal.spencer@gng-group.co.uk – tel: 0330 008 0805

Richard Wright – email: rwright@gng-group.co.uk – tel: 0330 008 0805

Back to school remains a dream for 32 million children with disabilities in developing countries

4th September 2017:  As children all across the US head back to school, Light for the World calls on the government and donors in the US to increase support for children in developing countries where education still remains a dream for 32 million children with disabilities1.

According to UNESCO’s Global Education Monitoring Report2, the completion rate of primary school children is 48% for low income countries, whereas 95% finish primary school in middle income countries. Children with disabilities are far less likely to complete primary school. Across 14 out of 15 low and middle income countries, people of working age with disabilities were a third less likely to have completed primary school. In most African countries, having a disability more than doubles your chances of not attending school

Nafisa Baboo, Senior Education Advisor for Light for the World, said: “Inclusive education is a right. Practising inclusive education drastically reduces out-of-school rates, tackles discrimination in society and reduces unemployment. And if that’s not enough of a reason, it’s also considerably cheaper than segregated education.

“When seeing all the smiling faces of American children on their way to school, we really need to open our eyes to the fact that millions of children in developing countries, especially those with disabilities, won’t be heading to the school gates. This extremely vulnerable group is being denied the ability to make friends, learn how to read and write, and to master skills that are crucial for future employment. Every child, no matter where they live, should have the opportunity of receiving quality education.

“Light for the World is working to ensure that no one is left behind in our pursuit to achieve the Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education for all by 2030. Not only are most children with disabilities denied the human right for education, but those that are being educated mostly go to segregated or ‘special’ schools that are seldom resourced and able to develop the child’s full social, academic and physical potential. Inclusive education calls for schooling the vast majority of children within a mainstream setting, where all children, including those with disabilities, are given the opportunity and support to learn together in the same classroom. Working with and strengthening the community, disability organisations, parents and the government is paramount for developing an inclusive education system.”

The recently released #CostingEquity report, developed by the International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC) led by Light for the World and supported by the Open Society Foundation and other international NGOs revealed that there is a lack of technical and financial resources to deliver on inclusive education.

Nafisa Baboo added: “This can be turned around by making the approval for education funding on disability inclusion easier and by earmarking funds for disability inclusive education.  In this way, we can redress the neglect of the past and enable girls and boys with disabilities to benefit from current initiatives to improve the learning outcomes and quality of education for all.

“Making disability inclusion mandatory will ensure that children with disabilities can enjoy the same success and traction that girls education has had over the past decade.”


Handbook Designed Around A-Level Biology Syllabus Details Modern and Humane Non-Animal Teaching Methods

London – Just in time for the new school year, PETA is promotingHumane Alternatives to Animal Dissection: A Practical Guide to Cutting Out Dissection, its new handbook aimed primarily at A-level biology teachers. The comprehensive guide outlines many of the modern, educationally effective non-animal methods that can help teachers deliver practical and relevant anatomy lessons without having to take a scalpel to any animals.

“Crude animal dissection exercises have no place in the modern classroom,” says PETA Science Policy Adviser Dr Julia Baines. “PETA’s guide to humane alternatives to dissection will help educators use ground-breaking interactive software and other teaching methods that both spare animals’ lives and provide students with a superior learning experience.”

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” – notes that many of the organs dissected in classrooms come from animals who were raised on cramped, filthy factory farms, where they are often denied proper veterinary care and may be killed while they’re still conscious. Cadavers may also be obtained from biological supply companies, which typically keep animals in barren cages for the entirety of their short lives. Non-animal teaching methods such as interactive computer programs and sophisticated simulators have been shown to teach biology better than animal-based methods do, and they enable teachers to discuss ethics and the value of other living beings’ lives, helping students become compassionate, well-rounded young adults.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk.

Research supports use of admissions testing for selecting medical undergraduates

Research by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing on the BioMedical Admissions Test (BMAT) shows the value of well-designed admissions testing for undergraduate medicine, biomedical and dentistry courses.

Almost 20,000 students apply to UK medical schools each year. Selecting the best candidates is key to the future of the NHS and requires the use of top quality admissions tests that are valid and fair. BMAT assesses reasoning abilities, critical thinking and problem solving skills, and individuals’ ability to apply pre-16 scientific knowledge typically covered in school Science and Mathematics. All of these are critical for success on demanding medical and healthcare courses.


The research provides evidence that BMAT can predict which students are most likely to be successful in medical study. It also covers the relationship between BMAT test scores and predicted A Level grades.


Andy Chamberlain, Head of Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing, said: “The UK government has pledged to increase the number of medical places by up to 1,500 each year from September 2018 and, it is more important than ever that institutions are selecting the best candidates for their courses. There are many qualities, as well as academic ability, that students require to excel in challenging medical, biomedical and dentistry courses and this research validates BMAT’s method of determining the candidates with the greatest chance of success.”


Widening access for students from diverse backgrounds is an important goal for many medical schools, and one of the most important findings of the research is that BMAT can support this objective. Chamberlain explains: “We know that students from more privileged backgrounds often receive extra help in preparing for the admissions tests through their schools or from commercial courses. However, our research shows that this extra help does not give these students an advantage in terms of better performance on the BMAT.”


Research on BMAT is presented in detail in a new book published by Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing and Cambridge University Press. ‘Applying the socio-cognitive framework to the BioMedical Admissions Test’ is a comprehensive evaluation of BMAT’s validity. It provides a detailed description of over a decade of research behind the test. It also includes a thorough analysis of the way BMAT tests are developed. Molly Fyfe, Senior Research Manager at Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing, commented: “Institutions are most interested in how well test scores predict future course performance. It is essential that we have a rigorous, transparent, careful and considered approach, so that institutions can be confident in the results being reported.”


Cambridge Assessment Admissions Testing, part of the University of Cambridge, produces admissions tests for higher education institutions and government ministries. BMAT is a well-established admissions test used by leading universities in the UK including Oxford and Cambridge and Imperial College London. It is also used in institutions around the world, including in the Netherlands, Spain, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.


The executive summary offers an overview of the BMAT research and can be downloaded here: www.admissionstestingservice.org/bmat-research