Simon Bird

Thesis Title: The Impact of Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) on Children Looked After (CLA) and Children in Need (CIN): Pathways and Pitfalls of Improving Outcomes

Abstract: Children who come into contact with the care system are one of the lowest performing groups in terms of educational outcomes internationally (Sebba and Luke, 2019). They also go on to have poorer employment prospects (Hook & Courtney, 2011) and health outcomes (Dixon, 2008) than the wider population and are over-represented in the homeless (Davison & Burris, 2014) and prison populations (Centre for Social Justice, 2015). Since September 2014, Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) were introduced for children who have complex special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), which aim to improve some of these outcomes, either directly (as in the case of health and education) or indirectly (in the case of employment, homelessness, and criminality). Around half of Children Looked After (CLA) and Children in Need (CIN) have an identified special educational need (SEN) and are much more likely to have an EHCP than all children (Nat. Stats., 2022). The aim of EHCPs is to coordinate the support for the child in a way that focuses on desired outcomes including, as they get older, preparation for adulthood. If successful, this should lead to better outcomes for these children – a thesis this PhD study seeks to test through a mixed methods difference-in-differences research design in which the outcomes of CLA and CIN with an EHCP will be compared with CLA and CIN without an EHCP, and those not in care or in need, using a combination of administrative data held by government, and advanced quantitative methods, complemented with an interdisciplinary, mixed methods approach. While there is an emerging body of research into EHCPs (e.g. Ahad et al., 2022), no study has yet evaluated the impact of EHCPs on children’s outcomes – making this the first study of its kind.

Name of primary supervisor: Professor Michael Sanders

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Cohort: 2023-24