Children in care frequently experience poor educational outcomes, which in turn have been linked to a number of adverse circumstances later in life. Accordingly, it is important to identify the educational experiences of children in care and what they consider to be their needs in this space. This systematic review of qualitative research aimed to identify and synthesise the findings of relevant studies that documented the experiences of children in care in regard to their school experiences. Inclusion criteria included English language, peer-reviewed, qualitative, or mixed-methods studies that examined the educational experiences of children currently in care or youth/adults who had previously been in care. Five online databases were systematically searched, along with manual hand searching of a relevant journal and reference lists to identify relevant studies. Eleven studies were identified. Thematic analysis was employed to identify five primary themes: the importance of school being a ‘safe haven’; the importance of relationships with teachers and peers; children's mental health, behaviour and educational experiences; children in care taking control; and what children in care say they need to improve their educational experiences. Results illustrate the important role of teachers and the need for children in care to have their opinions acknowledged in the decision-making process. The review provides future direction and recommendations for research, school policy, and practice.
- Children in care