Publication of the statistical bulletin Children in Care in Northern Ireland 2019-20

Date published: 08 September 2021

The Department of Health has today published the Children in Care in Northern Ireland 2019/20 Statistical Bulletin.

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This bulletin presents information on children and young people who had been looked after continuously for at least 12 months at 30 September 2020. It details information on their placement and placement changes, health assessments and disability, Special Educational Needs, school attendance and GCSE educational achievements of these young people.

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.

  • At 30 September 2020, 2,763 children and young people had been in care continuously for 12 months or longer;
  • Of these, one sixth (15%) had experienced a placement change during the previous 12 months, which is the lowest in recent years;
  • Having a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN) continues to be more prevalent among the children in care of school age (25%) compared with the general school population (6%);
  • Some 15% of school aged children and young people had full attendance through the 2019/20 school year, while 7% missed 25 or more school days;
  • Almost nine in ten (87%) of young people in care who were in Year 12 attained five or more GCSE at grades A* to G. Although not directly comparable, 97% of the general school leaver population (Year 12 – Year 14) attained five or more GCSE at grades A* to G. The equivalent figures for those achieving GCSE at grades A* to C were 77% and 91% respectively.

Notes to editors: 

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

The source of the data contained in this release is the Department of Health OC2 statistical return, collected from Health and Social Care Trusts as well as the Department of Education School Census information.

3. 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 3SP
Tel: (028) 90 522580
Fax: (028) 90 523288

  1. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email  
  2. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt
  3. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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