The children’s commissioner said local authorities should act as “pushy parents” for children in care – and even take children to school in areas of gang activity – in a meeting with MPs on Tuesday.

Dame Rachel de Souza, asked by Ian Mearns MP in a hearing of the Commons’ Education Select Committee on children in care about the six percent of youngsters in children’s homes not in education or training, said: “First of all, those numbers are absolutely unacceptable; we need all those children in education, simple, and it’s unacceptable for them to be out of education or training even when they are over 16 too.”

She added: “Sadly, this does reflect the calls we get to our helpline, so the question why is a really important one.

Children in care tell us their education is incredibly important to them and I get too many calling me up saying, ‘I’m doing two hours, three hours of tutoring because there was a problem with a gang,’ or, ‘I can’t get into that school’. It’s not on

“I think two things, really, in a nutshell. One is we need the local authority to really… they need to be like the pushy parent for the children. They are the corporate parent.”

“Secondly, we need proper parenting of these children, even if it’s a corporate parent, to get them in the right schools, to get them in good and outstanding schools, they have a right to be there… to make sure that there is a proper plan so the child can be successful in school.

“When you talk to children on the ground, it’s things like, ‘Oh I can’t go to school because there’s gangs’. Well, let’s make sure that those children are taken to school, solve the problems.”

Dame Rachel said she had recently visited a children’s home where some girls were not attending school because they were at risk of being targeted by gangs.

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Source: Councils must be ‘pushy parent’ for youngsters in care – Children’s Commissioner

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