Looked after Children

Supporting the educational attainment of looked after children

The number of looked after children has been rising steadily in recent years, reaching 70,440 in England in 2016. Government data shows that looked after children have significantly poorer educational outcomes than children not in care throughout primary and secondary school, with the gap widening as children get older. At secondary level, only 18% gained five GCSEs at grade C or higher in 2015, compared to 64% of children not in care. Looked after children are also four times more likely to have a special educational need than children within the general population, and almost ten times more likely to have a statement of special educational needs.


Through our funding and non-financial support we wish to pilot novel approaches to improving the educational attainment of looked after children and which can be scaled up so that in time they are able to take advantage of opportunities afforded by tertiary education and employment.

The outcomes we want our support to achieve are:

  1. Looked after children are provided supplementary support that results in improved educational attainment.
  2. Interventions made in the delivery of supplementary educational support for looked after children are proven to be effective and scalable.
  3. There is greater alignment and coherence in the work of the voluntary sector ensuring more successful educational outcomes for looked after children.

We don’t expect applications towards outcome 3 – this is something BFSS will address by convening workshops to share experience and supporting collaborative work.

What we will fund

Funding is limited to the charitable work of organisations, and should be for project costs, including staff salaries and a limited contribution to overheads. Please also note the below:

  • We expect projects to have some matched funding.
  • We expect that projects will usually be across multiple years, up to a maximum of 3 years.
  • We will favour projects with a lifetime BFSS contribution in excess of £20,000 for each year of their operation.

We will support work that develops sustainable approaches that can be replicated at scale. For example:

  • Pedagogically proven models of how educational interventions can be made to best effect.
  • Development of approaches based on a combination of paid staff and trained volunteers.
  • Development of practical tools and resources that allow looked after children (and their family members) to receive support and grasp positive opportunities.
  • Policy and practice for looked after children that values and prioritises education as a way of enhancing life chances.

We are looking for work which:

  • Is clear about the impact it will make and how this will be measured, providing an evidence base for the effectiveness of the work.
  • Is done in partnership with Local Authorities, schools and other organisations (including fellow grantees), that have responsibility for the education of Looked after children.

What to expect from our funding

This approach represents a new way of working for BFSS. We want to understand and learn from what makes a real difference to the educational outcomes of looked after children, and improve future practice as a result.

Our approach to supporting projects will be developed with the organisations we fund who can expect to:

  • Come together to share learning with others in the programme regularly.
  • Co-create shared measures of impact with others, collecting and sharing data and evidence.
  • Take part in an external evaluation.

Making an application and getting advice

Applications should be submitted though our normal Online Application form, according to our normal schedule of Grants Committee meetings – the schedule can be found at How and when to apply.

We are very happy to discuss an application or our process before you submit your form. Please get in touch by email to grants@bfss.org.uk and we will arrange a time to speak.