In South Australia in 2017, 57 per cent of all students in care were enrolled in Department for Education (DE) schools.
The Guardian’s latest report Children and Young People in State Care in South Australian Government Schools 2008-2017, is now available.
The report explores how well the state school system is providing for children and young people in care. It highlights a number of ongoing trends including:
- the proportion of children and young people in care enrolled in DE schools who identify as Aboriginal continues to be significantly higher than Aboriginal children and young people as a proportion of all children in DE schools (35.4 compared to 6.4 per cent in 2017).
- there are lower rates of school absence for Aboriginal students in care compared to the overall population of Aboriginal students attending DE schools.
- a greater proportion of all children and young people in care have learning disabilities compared to the overall DE student population, notably in speech and language skills.
- the proportion of children and young people in care with an intellectual disability is nearly seven times, and those with a global developmental delay are almost five times that of the rate of disability in the overall DE student population.
- children and young people in care enrolled in DE schools are more likely to be suspended or excluded than the broader DE school cohort.
- students in care from non-English speaking backgrounds have an absence rate almost twice that of students from non-English speaking backgrounds who are not in care.
- there are very high NAPLAN non-participation rates for students in care in DE schools. We know very little about the proficiency of almost half of Year 9 students, almost one-third of Year 3 students, one-quarter of Year 7 students, and just over one-fifth of Year 5 students in care enrolled in DE schools in 2017.
- withdrawal rates from NAPLAN testing vary by year level and discipline but are significantly higher for children and young people in care compared to the broader DE student population.
Areas for attention
Data summarised in this report suggests further attention in some areas, including:
- speech and language delays experienced by children before and on commencement of school
- access to appropriate disability support services, for example in relation to intellectual disability (including a focus on whether and how the NDIS will contribute to the necessary support)
- the evidence around the use of disciplinary measures such as school suspension and exclusion and options for alternatives, particularly for younger children
- monitoring hours of attendance at school so that part-day absences and reduced-hours arrangements are reported and minimised
- the experience of children and young people in care from non-English speaking backgrounds;
- developing a better appreciation of the reasons for the high non-participation rate in NAPLAN testing and the implications this has for properly understanding the educational experience of children and young people in care.