Methodology

Outcomes for children in need, including children looked after by local authorities in England

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  1. Updated for the 2021 statistical release, published on 31 March 2022.

Summary

This page is a guide to the ‘Outcomes for children in need, including children looked after by local authorities in England’ statistics published by the Department for Education (DfE). It sets out information on the:

  • source of the data and data matching
  • social care groups
  • outcomes and all pupils comparison data
  • rounding and suppression
  • related statistics.

This is the first update to the new statistical release that was introduced in March 2021, which incorporates changes to the annual Outcomes for children looked after by LAs statistical release and outcomes within the Characteristics of children in need statistical release, proposed by the department in September 2020. The methodology will be updated with each new statistical release. The next revision will be made when the release is updated in Spring 2023.

Children in need data is not available for Hackney local authority for the 2020 to 2021 collection year. Hackney were unable to provide a return for the 2021 children in need census, due to a cyberattack which had a significant impact on their management information systems.

Data

The statistics in this publication are derived from information collected in the children in need (CIN) census, the children looked after (CLA) SSDA903 return and a range of outcome measures from the National Pupil Database (NPD).

The DfE has collected the CIN census from local authorities for each full 12 month period since 2010. The latest collection covers the year from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. More information on the CIN census is available in the guide to submitting data. The collection provides the latest information on children referred to children’s social care, assessments carried out upon those children and whether a child became the subject of a child protection plan.

The DfE has collected the CLA SSDA903 return from local authorities for each full 12 month period since 1992. The latest collection covers the year from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021. There have been a number of significant changes to the collection since 1992. More information on the SSDA903 return is available in the guide to submitting data. The collection provides the latest information on children looked after by local authorities and care leavers. A more detailed timeline of changes to the SSDA903 is in the main CLA publication methodology. The SSDA903 data is collected in a longitudinal database, with one record for every episode of care. Local authorities update the database every year, including making amendments to previous years’ records where there have been changes.

The data sources for the range of outcomes measures from the NPD include:

  • school census (special education needs, free school meal eligibility and school type)
  • alternative provision census (special education needs and free school meal eligibility)
  • key stage 4
  • destinations
  • absence data
  • permanent exclusions and suspensions data.

For most outcomes measures the data included is from 2016/17 to the most recent year available, except for permanent exclusions and suspensions which are from 2015/16.

Data matching

National Pupil Database (NPD) input files

The NPD input files for CIN and CLA are prepared and matched into the NPD. The CIN input files are copies of the data from the CIN census for the variables required, whereas for CLA the input files require some preparation. 

The CLA dataset contains a row for each episode of care during a child’s period of care. To create the NPD input file, a child level file is created which includes all children who have been looked after during the year - for each year beginning 1 April and ending 31 March selecting their most recent episode of care during the reporting year. 

A number of indicators are created within the child level input files – these indicators don’t include CLA in respite care in the most recent episode of care during the reporting year. The indicators are:

  • child is looked after on 31 March
  • child is looked after continuously for at least six months
  • child is looked after continuously for at least twelve months
  • child is eligible for Pupil Premium
  • other variables including child characteristics and placement information.

Before the input files are matched a number of quality assurance checks are completed. These include:

  • the analysis being dual run independently by two members of the team
  • checks of summary figures against previous years for consistency
  • checks against data published in the Children looked after in England including adoptions statistical release.
  • checks on the volumes of unique pupils numbers (UPNs).

The NPD input files are created for the most recent 7 years to allow to allow us to produce the new ‘Ever CIN – last 6 years’ social care group and refresh historic data for each outcome in the publication. 

Matching into the NPD

The main matching key is the child’s unique pupil number (UPN), which identifies each pupil attending a state funded school in England. Allocated on first entry to a school, the UPN is generated using a nationally specified formula and is expected to remain with a pupil throughout their school career regardless of any change in school or local authority. Local authorities are required to return UPNs as part of the CIN census and the CLA SSDA903 return. It is the responsibility of local authorities to ensure that the UPN is accurate, as incorrect data could lead to a mismatch of data in the NPD. Local authorities can amend UPNs for previous years on the CLA SSDA903 return.

Since 2013, on the CLA SSDA903 return, a valid UPN should be returned for all looked after children aged 4 or over at 31 August within the collection year (with the exception of children who are only receiving respite care). Previously UPNs were only required for looked after children aged 6 to 15 years old at 31 August. UPNs can be returned for younger children if they have been assigned one.

There are several reasons why a child may not have a UPN, for example if in collating the UPNs discrepancies become apparent i.e. child's first name and/or surname and/or date of birth preventing reliable matching or if the child:

  • is not of school age and has not yet been assigned a UPN (some children who aren’t of school age may have a UPN depending on the type of setting they attend)
  • has never attended a school where UPNs are mandatory (for example, some unaccompanied asylum-seeking children or children that have only ever attended an independent school)
  • is educated outside of England
  • is newly CIN or CLA (from one week before the end of the collection period) and the UPN was not yet known at the time of the CIN census or CLA SSDA903 return.

A record from the CIN or CLA NPD input files is matched into the NPD if there is enough information available in that record which identifies the child as already being in the NPD via its appearance in other data sources, mainly UPN, but also date of birth, gender, ethnicity and local authority responsible for the care of the child. If a child is matched into the NPD in this way a child is given a pupil matching reference (PMR). A child can be matched into the NPD and given a PMR but not be able to be linked to other data if there is no other information attributed to that PMR from other data sources. In this publication we focus on those children that have been allocated a PMR and can be matched across other data sources.

Percentage of children of compulsory school age (age 5 to 15 at 31st August) that have a PMR in the NPD for the ‘any point’ social care groups.

Academic YearCIN at any pointCINO at any pointCPPO at any pointCLA at any point
2020/2188.585.792.597.7
2019/2089.086.293.898.0
2018/1989.887.493.898.1
2017/1890.187.794.498.0
2016/1790.688.594.597.8

The percentages are refreshed across all years each year, to reflect the refreshed social care dataset.

Social care dataset

The social care dataset is created from all CIN and CLA records in the NPD input files, not just those that have matched into the NPD and have a PMR. It is refreshed each year, to incorporate historic updates to CLA data. This involves:

  • Updating identifiers in the CIN data based on historic updates to the CLA data (from 2021, includes updated identifiers from all CIN data not just those that are CLA).
  • Removing duplicates in the CIN and CLA data (within each local authority) and from matched CIN and CLA data.
  • Creating flags for the CIN and child protection plan (CPP) social care groups in the CIN data.
  • Creating flags for the CLA social care groups in the CLA data (excludes CLA in respite care in their most recent episode of care during the reporting year).
  • Matching CLA data to CIN data for each of the most recent 7 years using a combination of identifiers within each local authority.
  • Creating flags for the children in need, excluding children on a child protection plan and looked after children (CINO) and children on a child protection plan, excluding children looked after (CPPO) social care groups.
  • Joining the data across the 7 years so that each child within a local authority has one record.
  • Creating flags for the ‘Ever CIN – last 6 years’ social care group where a child has been in need at any point in the last 6 years within a local authority.

Where a child appears in more than one local authority during the reporting year, their outcomes are counted in each local authority. This affects the ‘any point’ and ‘Ever CIN –last 6 years’ social care groups leading to some children being counted more than once. There are two years of ‘Ever CIN – last 6 years’ data available for most outcomes (one year for permanent exclusions and suspensions).

For the ‘Ever CIN – last 6 years’ social care group, six years has been chosen due to initial availability and reliability of data. We will continue to report on a six year period even as more years of data become available so that the measure is comparable over years.

There are limitations with the accuracy of the ‘Ever CIN – last 6 years’ social care group due to:

  • unknown changes to identifiers for CIN that are not CLA (prior to 2021).
  • children being counted as ‘Ever CIN – last 6 years’ in all local authorities where they have been in need over the last 6 years leading to some children being counted more than once.
  • local authority changes (e.g. the new local authorities in 2019/20) leading to some children being counted more than once.

The issues around unknown changes to identifiers for CIN that are not CLA (prior to 2021) are mitigated to some extent by the matching being done on multiple identifiers within each local authority.

Social care groups

The social care groups cover children in need (CIN), children on a child protection plan (CPP) and children looked after (CLA) by local authorities in England. Where appropriate, an ‘all pupils comparison’ from the relevant national statistics is included for each outcome.

Abbreviations of social care group names used throughout this release 

  • CIN - children in need.
  • CINO - children in need, excluding children on a child protection plan and children looked after. This includes children on child in need plans as well as other types of plan or arrangements.
  • CPPO - children on a child protection plan, excluding children looked after.
  • CLA - children looked after (excludes CLA in respite care in their most recent episode of care during the reporting year).

For CINO, the other types of plan or arrangements include; family support (to help keep together families experiencing difficulties), leaving care support (to help young people who have left local authority care), adoption support or disabled children’s services (including social care, education and health provision).

In theory, CIN = CINO + CPPO + CLA, however, in practice not all CLA match to CIN so they don’t add up exactly. This is due to inconsistencies that arise from the CIN data and CLA data being collected separately. However, there have been improvements to matching rates for CIN/CLA in recent years and we continue to encourage local authorities to be consistent across the two data collections.

Percentage of CLA that don’t match to CIN for the ‘any point’ social care groups

Reporting year20172018201920202021
%3.02.31.01.72.1

The percentages are refreshed cross all years each year, to reflect the refreshed social care dataset.

Social care groups included in the commentary (referred to as key social care groups):

  • CIN at 31 March
  • CINO at 31 March
  • CPPO at 31 March
  • CLA 12 months at 31 March - CLA continuously for at least twelve months at 31 March.
  • CLA less than 12 months at 31 March - CLA continuously for less than twelve months at 31 March.

Social care groups included in both national and local authority level data:

  • CINO at 31 March
  • CPPO at 31 March (where numbers are large enough).
  • CLA 12 months at 31 March

Historically CLA 12 months at 31 March has been the focus for CLA outcomes as 12 months is considered an appropriate length of time to gauge the possible association of being looked after on educational attainment. However, a child may not have been in the care of a local authority for the whole of a key stage period. It is also the cohort of children for whom information on outcomes such as health, wellbeing and offending are collected through the SSDA903 return.

Social care groups included in national level data only:

  • All pupils comparison - from the national publications.
  • CIN at 31 March
  • CLA less than 12 months at 31 March
  • CIN at any point - ‘any point’ means at any point during the reporting year (including at 31 March).
  • CINO at any point
  • CPPO at any point
  • CLA at any point
  • Ever CIN - last 6 years - children in need, at any point in the last 6 reporting years (including at 31 March).

Other groups

At key stage 4 there are additional groups in the national level data on previously looked after arrangements (PLAA). These are Official Statistics on arrangements for previously looked after children:

  • PLAA - Adoption - previously looked after children who left care through an adoption.
  • PLAA - SGO - previously looked after children who left care through a special guardianship order (SGO).
  • PLAA - CAO - previously looked after children who left care through a child arrangements order (CAO).
  • PLAA - Total - previously looked after children who left care through an adoption, SGO or CAO.

The coverage for PLAA is partial as the information is taken from the school census and alternative provision census, where children are reported as having previously left care due to adoption, a SGO or a CAO only if their parents or carers have declared this information to the school or alternative provision setting. Therefore, the data is reliant on self-declaration from parents and is partial rather than a full count. Users are advised to exercise caution when interpreting these statistics as there can be issues with low levels of coverage which may introduce bias and changes in coverage and attainment measures mean year on year comparisons should not be made.

It is not possible to obtain a complete match of the CLA data (from SSDA903) with the attainment data for some children who left care due to an adoption, a SGO or a CAO. Some adopted children do not change their UPN so records could be matched; however, in most cases where children leave care for adoption they have not reached school age and have not been allocated a UPN. In addition, in some instances when children are adopted their UPN changes so no link can be made between the pre-adoption record (with the original UPN) and the post-adoption record (with the new UPN). 

Comparing figures reported on the school census and alternative provision census with those from the SSDA903, we calculate in 2021, half of these children are covered at key stage 4.

Percentage coverage of children who left care through an adoption, SGO or CAO, at key stage 4: 2018 to 2021

 2018201920202021
Adoption48526157
SGO38414547
CAO32292935
Total43455050

Some children may have been counted more than once in the SSDA903 data if they have left care under these circumstances more than once. Only children that have been matched to attainment data are included in the coverage calculations above.  Information on children that left care due to adoption, a SGO or CAO is reported via the school census and alternative provision census for previous years and may not represent the current situation for a child. 

Outcomes data (including all pupils comparison)

Summary

Where applicable figures for all pupils, whether in social care or not, are included for ease of reference as the ‘all pupils comparison’. There are some differences in how the outcomes are calculated for the all pupils comparison with those in the social care groups. However, the effect of these is small and figures, where provided, are still comparable. 

Only children that have a PMR and match to the relevant data for each outcome are included in the outcomes data for each of the social care groups.

School census

The spring school census is a snapshot of pupil information in schools as at the third Thursday in January. In the years provided in this publication it includes nursery, state-funded primary, state-funded secondary and special schools as well as pupil referral units. 

Alternative provision census

The alternative provision census is a snapshot of pupil information in alternative provision as at the third Thursday in January. The alternative provision census covers pupils attending a school not maintained by a local authority for whom the authority is paying full tuition fees, or educated otherwise than in schools and pupil referral units, under arrangements made (and funded) by the local authority.

Special educational needs (SEN)

The SEN data for the social care groups is taken from the school census and the alternative provision census. It is possible for a child to be matched to both of these census types if they attend more than one kind of setting. These children will be included in the figures but will only be counted once. In these cases, the highest level of SEN is counted.

The all pupils comparison for SEN only takes data from the school census. However, at national level the impact of the alternative provision figures is likely to be small, so the school census data is still comparable at national level. The all pupils comparison for SEN is taken from Special educational needs in England: 2019/21.

Key stage 4

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer exam series for the 2020/21 academic year was cancelled

Instead, for 2020/21, pupils were only assessed on the content they had been taught for each course. Schools were given flexibility to decide how to assess their pupils’ performance, for example, through mock exams, class tests, and non-exam assessment already completed. GCSE grades were then determined by teachers based on the range of evidence available and they are referred to as teacher-assessed grades, or TAGs. 

This is a different process to that of 2019/20 when pupils were awarded either a centre assessment grade (known as CAGs, based on what the school or college believed the pupil would most likely have achieved had exams gone ahead) or their calculated grade using a model developed by Ofqual - whichever was the higher of the two.

The changes to the way GCSE grades have been awarded over the last two years (with CAGs and TAGs replacing exams) mean 2020/21 pupil attainment data should not be directly compared to pupil attainment data from previous years for the purposes of measuring year on year changes in pupil performance.

For more information see the key stage 4 performance statistics release for academic year 2020/21.

Attainment 8 measures the average achievement of pupils in up to 8 qualifications. This includes: English language; English literature (if only one GCSE in English is taken then it is double weighted); maths (double weighted); three further qualifications that count in the English Baccalaureate (EBacc); and three further qualifications that can be GCSE qualifications (including EBacc subjects) or any other non-GCSE qualifications on the DfE approved list

From 2018, Attainment 8 had a maximum point score of 90, compared to a maximum of 87 in 2017 and 80 in 2016. This is a consequence of the phased introduction of reformed GCSEs graded on the 9-1 scale. These differences should be considered when comparing Attainment 8 scores between 2016-2019. 

Percentage of pupils achieving grade 5 or above in both English and maths GCSEs. To meet the English requirement in this measure, a pupil would have to achieve a grade 5 or above in either English literature or English language. There is no requirement to sit both. 

The English Baccalaureate (EBacc) entry shows how many pupils are entering GCSEs (or AS level qualifications) in core academic subjects at KS4. The EBacc consists of English, maths, science, a language, and history or geography. To count in the EBacc, qualifications must be on the English Baccalaureate list of qualifications. In 2020, this measure is less likely to have been affected by the cancellation of exams as schools will have taken most of their entry decisions ahead of the COVID-19 disruption.

The EBacc average point score (EBacc APS) measures pupils’ point scores across the five pillars of the EBacc - English, maths, science, a language, and history or geography – with a zero for any missing pillars. This ensures the attainment of all pupils is recognised, not just those at particular grade boundaries, encouraging schools to enter pupils of all abilities, and support them to achieve their full potential.

For more information on these measures and their calculation methodology, see the secondary accountability guidance.

Generally the coverage across different school types for the social care groups is more comprehensive than the key stage 4 national publication, as we aim to include as many children in social care as possible. Duplicates within the key stage 4 data (before matching to the social care data) are removed taking the best attainment result. The social care groups are matched to the revised version of key stage 4 data and the all pupils comparison is also from the revised version of the data. The all pupils comparison for key stage 4 is taken from Key stage 4 performance: 2020/21.

The SEN data is taken from the school census and the alternative provision census. It is possible for a child to be matched to both of these census types if they attend more than one kind of setting. Such cases will be included in the figures but will only count once. In these cases, the highest level of SEN has been counted. The key stage 4 data includes pupils for whom SEN status could not be determined.

Usually in the key stage 4 local authority level data, children that are flagged as having recently arrived from overseas are removed. However, due to the schools checking exercise not taking place in 2019/20 or 2020/21, in these years, children have not been able to be flagged as having recently arrived from overseas and so consequently have not been removed from the data.

Destinations

Key stage 4 destination measures follow pupils who were at the end of key stage 4 study (GCSE and equivalent qualifications) in 2018/19, and reports their destinations in the following academic year (2019/20). They show the percentage of pupils going to an education, apprenticeship or employment destination. To be counted in a destination, young people have to have sustained participation for a 6 month period in the destination year. 

The percentages for the social care groups are much less than the all pupils figures published in  Key stage 4 destination measures: 2019/20. However, it should be noted that the figures in this outcomes release include additional institutions, so they are not directly comparable. For example, other institutions include: independent schools, independent special schools and secure units. For this reason we do not have an all pupils comparison for this outcome.

In 2021, we updated the matching methodology for destinations, increasing the number of children at the end of key stage 4 being matched to destinations data.

Absence

Absence data is collected one term in arrears of the school census. In 2020, due to the pandemic absence data for 2019/20 was only collected for the Autumn 2019. Therefore, 2019/20 absence data published in this release for social care groups, relates to absence in the autumn 2019 term for children in social care during 2019/20 prior to the pandemic. In recent years, autumn term absence rates have given reasonable indications of trends in the full year. However, absence in a single term can be more affected by the level of seasonal flu or other illnesses.

During 2020/21, an additional code was introduced to record where pupils were not attending in circumstances related to coronavirus (COVID-19).  This includes pupils self-isolating and shielding, including when a class or bubble was required to stay at home. During these sessions, these children could not attend school and so they are treated separately, and not counted within the standard absence rates within this publication. Where a pupil was not attending in these circumstances, schools were expected to provide immediate access to remote education. For the majority of the Spring term, only children of critical workers and vulnerable pupils could attend school during the period of lockdown from 4 January 2021. Restrictions were lifted on attendance from 8 March 2021 for all other pupils, four school weeks prior to the end of term.  Due to the disruption faced during the Spring term, caution should be taken when comparing data across terms and to previous years.  For more detailed information see the  Pupil absence in schools in England, Academic Year 2020/21 – Explore education statistics – GOV.UK (explore-education-statistics.service.gov.uk)

For the social care groups, absence data is matched to school census data for each school type, so the pupils included are those on the school census with absence data. The all pupils comparison figures taken from the national publication are produced using a different methodology based on enrolments and the school type is allocated in a different way. As a result of this, the all pupils comparison is not provided by school type as it is not appropriate to compare. The all pupils comparison for absence is taken from Pupil absence in schools in England: 2019/20 and includes absence for all pupils who attend the same types of school as the social care groups (state-funded primary, state-funded secondary, special schools and pupil referral units). The social care groups and the all pupils comparison absence data is for children of compulsory school age (age 5 to 15 at 31st August).

Permanent exclusions and suspensions

Permanent exclusion refers to a pupil who's been permanently excluded and who will not come back to that school (unless the permanent exclusion is overturned). This data only includes permanent exclusions which have been upheld by the governing body or Independent Review Panel (IRP), and not those which are still ongoing. The permanent exclusion percentage is calculated as the number of permanent exclusions divided by the number of pupils (x100).

Suspension (formerly fixed period exclusion) refers to a pupil who's suspended from a school for a set period of time.

Permanent exclusions and suspensions data is collected two terms in arrears, which means the latest available data is for the 2019/20 academic year. Pupils with one or more suspension refers to pupils who have had at least one suspension across the full academic year.

Covering the 2019/20 academic year, this year's data includes the start of the pandemic when, from 23 March, school sites were closed for all but those children of critical workers and vulnerable children, with others being educated remotely. Permanent exclusions and suspensions were possible throughout the full academic year but comparisons to previous years should be treated with caution.

For the social care groups, permanent exclusions and suspensions data is matched to school census data for each school type. The all pupils comparison figures taken from the national publication are produced using a different methodology based on enrolments and the school type is allocated in a different way. As a result of this, the all pupils comparison is not provided by school type as it is not appropriate to compare. The all pupils comparison for permanent exclusions and suspensions is taken from Permanent and fixed-period exclusions in England: 2019/20 and includes permanent exclusions and suspensions for all pupils who attend the same types of school as the social care groups (state-funded primary, state-funded secondary, special schools and pupil referral units). The social care groups and the all pupils comparison permanent exclusions and suspensions data have no age restriction.

Free school meals (FSM)

The FSM eligibility data for the social care groups is taken from the school census and the alternative provision census. It is possible for a child to be matched to both of these census types if they attend more than one kind of setting. Such cases will be included in the figures but will only count once. In these cases, FSM eligibility has been counted if it appears on either census.

From April 2018 transitional protections were in in place, which continued during the roll out of Universal Credit. These protections mean that pupils eligible for free school meals on or after 1 April 2018 retain their free school meals eligibility, even if their circumstances change. If a child was eligible for free school meals, they remain eligible until they finish their current phase of schooling (primary or secondary) in 2023. The introduction of transitional protections is the main reason for the increase in the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals seen in recent years, as pupils continue to become eligible, but fewer pupils stop being eligible.

The all pupils comparison for FSM takes data from the school census and the alternative provision census. The all pupils comparison for FSM is taken from Schools, pupils and their characteristics: 2020/21.

School type

The social care groups are matched to school census data for information on school type. The all pupils comparison figures taken from the national publication have school type allocated in a different way. As a result of this, the all pupils comparison is not provided by school type as it is not appropriate to compare. The all pupils comparison is taken from Schools, pupils and their characteristics: 2020/21.

Confidentiality (rounding and suppression)

Rounding and suppression is applied to the data. The Code of Practice for Statistics requires that reasonable steps should be taken to ensure that all published or disseminated statistics produced by the DfE protect confidentiality. The publications follow the DfE policy statement on confidentiality

National and regional numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10. Local authority numbers are unrounded.

Where a denominator is shown as zero, the original figure submitted was zero. 

Percentages are rounded to one decimal place (except for permanent exclusions and suspensions, where they are rounded to two decimal places).

Average Attainment 8 scores are rounded to one decimal place and EBacc average point scores are rounded to two decimal places.

As a result of rounding components may not sum to totals and percentages may not sum to 100.

For key stage 4 measures, values of 0 (zero) are suppressed to protect confidentiality. For all other measures, values of 0 (zero) are not primary suppressed. Prior to 2021, values of 0 (zero) were suppressed for all measures.

The following symbols have been used:

‘c’ to protect confidentiality - secondary suppression may also be applied to figures to protect confidentiality
‘z’ for not applicable
‘x’ for not available (updated in 2021 from a colon in 2020)
‘~’ used when a result that is not 0 (zero) would appear as 0 (zero) due to rounding

National Statistics

The United Kingdom Statistics Authority designated these statistics as National Statistics in accordance with the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007 and signifying compliance with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Designation signifying their compliance with the authority's Code of Practice for Statistics which broadly means these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Once designated as National Statistics it's a statutory requirement for statistics to follow and comply with the Code of Practice for Statistics.

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

The data on previously looked after arrangements (PLAA) are Official Statistics.

Revisions

The ‘Outcomes for children in need, including children looked after by local authorities in England’ publication is produced using a final version of the dataset. We do not plan to make any revisions to the publications. If we later discover that a revision is necessary, this will be made in accordance with the DfE statistical policy statement on revisions.

Related statistics

Children looked after in England including adoptions: Information on children looked after in England, including numbers of looked after children adopted, care leavers and looked after children who are missing. Data is taken from the annual SSDA903 data collection

Characteristics of children in need in England:  Information on referrals, assessments and children who were the subject of a child protection plan (taken from the Children in Need census) are published annually.

Information on care proceedings in England: The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (CAFCASS) publish information on care proceedings applications made by local authorities where CAFCASS has been appointed by the court to represent the interests of children.

Local authority children in care and adoption statistics: Children in care and adoption performance tables (published within the local authority interactive tool) and adoption scorecards show how local authorities and looked after children’s services compare with others in England.

Local authority expenditure: Information on local authority planned expenditure on schools, education, children and young people’s services is available. This data is returned to DfE by local authorities via the Section 251 Budget Return. 

Ofsted statistics: Ofsted publish inspection outcomes for local authority children’s services and children’s social care providers in England as well as data on the placements of children looked after and fostering in England.

Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board (ASGLB): Quarterly reports are available here.

Ministry of Justice statistics: The Ministry of Justice publish quarterly family court figures which include information on public law cases and adoptions.

Stability Index: The Children's Commissioner publishes the annual Stability Index which is an annual measure of the stability of the lives of children in care.

Devolved administration statistics

Data is collected and published independently by each of the four countries in the UK. Although there are similarities between the data collected by the four nations, there are also differences which may be down to different policies and legislation, and differing historical data collections.

Scotland: Statistics on children’s social work (including children looked after) in Scotland and statistics on the outcomes of looked after children in Scotland are available on the Scottish Government website

Wales: Statistics on children’s services (including children looked after) in Wales are available on the Welsh Government website.

Northern Ireland: Statistics on children’s services (including children looked after) in Northern Ireland are available on the Department of Health website.