Publication of the statistical bulletin ‘Children in Care in Northern Ireland 2016/17’

Date published: 31 August 2018


The Department of Health has today published the ‘Children in Care in Northern Ireland 2015/16 Statistical Bulletin’.

This bulletin presents information on children and young people who had been looked after continuously for at least 12 months at 30 September 2017. It details findings from the OC2 collection of information on the educational achievements of these young people at Key Stage Assessments and GCSE. It also includes information on their placement, health assessments, disability and offences and convictions.

Some children in care will excel educationally, however in general, children in care in Northern Ireland continue to underperform compared to the general school population. Although there are many issues that can influence a child’s schooling, it is worth noting that a substantially higher proportion of children in care have special educational needs which may affect the educational attainment gap between them and the general school population.

Key Findings

  • At 30 September 2017, 2,325 children and young people had been in care continuously for 12 months or longer;
  • Of these, almost one fifth (18%) had experienced a placement change during the previous 12 months, which is the lowest number in recent years. When excluding those children whose placement move was placement for adoption, the proportion of children with a placement change was 17%;
  • Having a statement of Special Educational Needs continues to be more prevalent among the children in care of school age (24%) compared with the general school population (5%);
  • Some 12% of school aged children and young people had full attendance through the 2016/17 school year, while 9% missed 25 or more school days;
  • In general children in care for 12 months or longer did not perform as well as their peers in the Key Stage Assessments;
  • Almost three quarters (74%) of looked after children attained five or more GCSE at grades A* to G; this compared with 99% of the general school population. The equivalent figures for those achieving GCSE at grades A* to C were 48% and 85%.

Notes to editors: 

  1.  This publication is available online.
  1.  About the data:

    The source of the data contained in this release is the Departmental OC2 statistical return, collected from Health and Social Care Trusts.
  1. This statistical bulletin was produced by Community Information Branch, DoH.

Further information is available from:

Community Information Branch
Department of Health
Room 11, Annexe 2,
Castle Buildings,
Stormont Belfast BT4 3SQ

Tel:                              (028) 90 522580
Fax:                             (028) 90 523288

4. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office team on 028 9052 0575 or email Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

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