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.