Outcomes & the difference we make

The NFA Group is wholeheartedly committed to ensuring that each and every care, education and residential placement we make is as successful as possible for all involved.

As the leading children’s fostering care, education and residential provider in the UK, NFA Group is able to demonstrate a tangible impact on each of the lives we improve as a result of the services we provide.

Performing well above the national average

Children in NFA Group care and education services performed significantly above average when compared to the national level attained by looked after children in SATs and GCSE exams in 2018:

Soaring SATs scores

69% of children in NFA Group foster care reached the expected standard in English SATs in 2018, which was considerably higher than the national level for looked after children, while 62% of children in NFA Group foster care reached the expected standard in mathematics SATs in 2018, which also ranked well above the national level for looked after children.

       NFA Group building incredible futures   

Great GCSE results

Of Year 11 students in foster care who sat GCSE exams in both English and mathematics in 2018, a total of 46% achieved a grade 4 or higher (national figure for looked-after children was 17.4%) while 15% achieved a grade 5 or above (national figure for looked-after children was 8.5%)

Children enrolled at NFA Group schools gained an overall pass rate of 88% for their GCSE’s in 2018. These students passed a wide range of subjects including art and design, biology, citizenship, English, mathematics, geography, history, PE, statistics and law.

High attendance rates

Children in NFA Group care also have very good attendance at school. Persistent absence of children in foster care is at just 3%, with 90% of children recording an attendance of over 95%.

A pleasing statistic that emphasises our commitment to building incredible futures for the vulnerable children and young people in our care, 92% of young people in year 11 who have been in foster care for more than one year in the summer of 2018 are currently in education, employment or training.

Excellent quality track-record

We are proud to say that 98% of children and young people using NFA Group care, education and residential services are receiving good or outstanding service quality, which ranks far above the national average for children-in-care.

This includes a quarter of children in NFA Group foster care being looked-after by an outstanding fostering agency, as well as just under three quarters of our residential schools judged to be outstanding, and all of our teaching and learning schools within the group considered good or outstanding.*

Excellent Quality Track Record

*As of 13th March 2019 and based on Ofsted for England only. All of our services in Wales and Scotland are at least equivalent to ‘good’.

NFA Group Pledge

As part of our service in offering high-quality fostering, educational and residential solutions for our children and young people, we pledge to:

  • Keep them safe and care well for them
  • Help them get a good education (to help them achieve and enjoy their education)
  • Help them be healthy and enjoy their lives
  • Support them with their future and next adventure

NFA Group Children's Pledge

Our pledge emphasises the minimum expectation for a child or young person residing with one of our foster carers, attending one of our schools, or living within an NFA Group residential facility can expect to see for the duration of their placement, and is representative of the type of lifestyle that we want every child and young person in the UK to enjoy.

In alignment with Our Vision and Our Mission to ‘build incredible futures’ and to ‘improve the lives of thousands of young people, their families and communities’, here at NFA Group we strive to ensure our children and young people are equipped with the personal development skills to experience life from a safe and caring household, school or residential environment, whilst concurrently feeling suitably prepared for living an independent a life as possible as care leavers.

Our pledge is our promise to each and every young person in our care.

We focus on making a difference and supporting the delivery of the pledge. We have a clear approach to improvement based on four questions:

1) How can we measure if children are better off?

2) How can we measure if services are doing well?

3) How are we doing on these measures?

4) What next?


Proactive steps we take in order to meet our pledge promises


Safeguarding and child sexual exploitation (CSE) prevention across NFA Group services

With over 5000 children in our care (either fostering, residential or day-school), NFA Group is perpetually focused on reducing risk of child sexual exploitation through initiatives such as ‘Stop CSE Awareness Week’.

This was in response to recommendations from the National Safeguarding & Quality Committee in December 2018, whereby we ran an NFA Group ‘Stop Exploitation’ campaign in conjunction with the NWG (formerly National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People) to raise awareness of how to spot the signs and signals of exploitation of children and that these can present as sexual or criminal in nature.

By teaching staff across the group of how to observe and stop exploitation of children, as well as what to do in such circumstances, the series of events we held in coordination with service managers across each group division, as well as activating a social media campaign highlighting our focus on stopping exploitation, ensured everyone associated with us was more informed to act effectively in safeguarding the vulnerable young people in our care.

Training on CSE prevention procedures was provided across all corners of the business as part of ‘Stop CSE Exploitation Week’, demonstrating how seriously we take this issue and how we are steadfastly committed to working together and tackling CSE going forward.

As well as raising the profile of CSE across social media on a regular basis to our audience of foster carers, who also complete a mandatory safeguarding course each year, we also launched a new online training based ‘Spot and Stop Exploitation’ programme for all staff as part of an HR safeguarding training project led internally, which further entrenched the importance of recognising, preventing and stopping instances of CSE across the group.

How we work to meet our child and young person safeguarding pledge

A team of quality advisors regularly audit and support NFA Group services to ensure they are meeting our requirement of ensuring every child and young person within NFA Group care, education and residential services are receiving at least a ‘good’ standard of provision.

Our safeguarding & quality committee is chaired by Tim Loughton, who is the former Children’s Minister, and also includes British Professor of Nursing, Baroness Mary Watkins of Tavistock, as well as Jenny Whittle, former Deputy Cabinet Member for Children, Families & Education Learning & Development and Mike Blakey, our Group Director of Quality & Compliance.

A national safeguarding adviser also provides expert advice on safeguarding children and young people to ensure we always remain collectively compliant and aligned with current national procedures across the group.

‘Every aspect of the school’s work is scrutinised. Governors have a good oversight and know the current strengths of the school and areas of development. As a result, they are able to provide appropriate support and challenge that drive improvement. Governors are ambitious for all pupils.’

Ofsted, November 2018 (Wenlock School)

NFA Group_Restraint Reduction Network

Reducing the use of restraint in NFA Group Services

We have made a commitment to actively participate in reducing restraint, where possible, across all of our services, so as to further embody our stance as a leading children’s care and education provider striving to set the highest standards, which for us includes sharing and acting upon learnings related to reducing reliance on restrictive practices and minimising the requirement for restraint upon children and young people in our care.

Our desire to make a positive difference to the lives of thousands of young people in our care therefore led to us officially pledging to join the Restraint Reduction Network and support the cause as an organisation.

As a member of the Restraint Reduction Network we have pledged to:

  • Give a clear and transparent commitment to the people who use and work in our services that all our leaders, managers and frontline staff will endeavour to work together to ensure that the use of coercive and restrictive practice is minimised and the misuse and abuse of restraint is prevented.
  • Work together to create restraint-free services to each person we support as much as possible, built on continuous learning and improvement.
  • Develop an annual ‘restraint reduction plan’ which will outline the different organisational approaches we will implement in order to help us achieve the Network’s vision, mission, values and principles so that those people subject to restricted practices are fully protected.

In order to meet these pledges, we have created a network of restraint reduction champions throughout the group. This allows our champions to lead on the coordination of self-evaluation and the development of a plan to reduce the use of restraint in each of our services.

This means that we are now able to proactively contribute towards developing quality standards for avoiding incidents whereby any vulnerable children and young people in our care are exposed to any behavior that may be deemed traumatising, particular within therapeutic settings, keeping them as safe and comfortable as possible.

We have also devised a forum for discussing issues surrounding restraint within our wider industry, encouraging the sharing of best practice examples including successful strategies which have already been implemented. This ensures that we are well positioned to continually keep abreast of progression in best practice when preventing unnecessary incidences of restraint, ensuring human rights of all in our care are respected at all times, and remain focused on achieving positive outcomes in highly beneficial ways.

NFA Group British Exploring Society

Building incredible futures with the British Exploring Society

Innovative partnerships help NFA Group to deliver real impact with organisations such British Exploring Society (BES), providing young people the opportunity to take part in expeditions across the world in order to build on their personal skills, discover more about themselves as people, and equip them to be able to work well in team situations.

As part of giving young people in our care the opportunity to embark on life-changing adventures and activities, we have partnered with BES, a youth development charity which provides transformational experiences for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

This collaboration has so far seen seventeen young people undertake a 9-day expedition to the Highlands in Scotland, where highly-skilled professionals and outdoor experts guided them on the trek, which included a variety of tasks for the young people to complete each day, each geared towards improving vital life skills such as perseverance and being able to work well in a team setting.

These tasks involved encouraging our young people to work on building skills in eight key areas, including:

  • Making Decisions that Matter
  • Managing my Feelings
  • The World and Me
  • Confidence
  • People and Me
  • Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Staying on Track

NFA Group British Exploring Society 2019 Highlands ExpeditionPart of the success of British Exploring Society’s youth programme and expeditions involves ‘My Compass’, which allows young people to measure the impact of their experience against their chosen goals and track their progress on each trip. The scheme invites participants to complete a self-assessment, helping them to identify areas for improvement and set targets for achieving their aspirations beyond the nine-day excursion.

Julie Rickard, Family Outreach Worker for Pathway Care South West, who accompanied three young people under the care of Pathway chosen for the Highlands expedition stated:

“The whole nine days was fantastically organised. Staff who were at basecamp all the time – Toby and Polly – they couldn’t help enough. At one point, someone lost their sleeping bag, so they went out at night to give them another one. Nothing was too much trouble.”

David Leatherbarrow, Group Chief Executive of NFA Group, said:

“The British Exploring Society’s expeditions encourage our young people to step outside of their comfort zone, and take on situations that may not be as challenging for others as they are for them.
Far too often young people that have experienced care miss out on bigger opportunities, but our partnership with British Exploring Society is designed to change this and ensure they can access life-changing and inspirational experiences.”

There are further plans to support twelve young people to go to either the Peruvian Amazon or the Canadian Yukon in summer 2019.

Youth Voice – caring, listening and responding

To ensure we have the ability to effectively understand whether children and young people using our services are better off and that our services are meeting each child’s specific needs, whilst making sure that we are in a good position to effectively articulate what is required to meet any shortcomings gleaned from these learnings, we consistently look for the most innovative and effective ways to ascertain precisely how children in our care are feeling throughout their placements.

In May 2019 we launched the innovative and interactive digital platform – ‘Youth Voice’.

The purpose of this initiative is to allow our schools, foster carers, Supervising Social Workers (SSW) and those involved in a child’s care the ability to more frequently and more easily determine the views of children and young people in our care.

While monitoring academic performance can be fairly straightforward, NFA Group’s Youth Voice enables children to articulate their feelings around topics relating to our promises made in the Children’s pledge across four key areas:

  1. Keeping you safe and caring well for you
  2. Helping you get a good education (achieve and enjoy)
  3. Helping you be healthy and enjoy life
  4. Supporting your future and your next adventure

Youth Voice empowers children and young people in our care to contribute to discussions regarding important decisions about their future.

The engaging and easy-to-use web tool lets our children and young people use a digital device such as a tablet or smartphone to answer several questions, using an ‘emoji’ response format, to quickly and discretely convey how they are feeling emotionally about a number of aspects surrounding their present situation.

The invaluable real-time feedback received from the Youth Voice digital tool provides a greater understanding of the less visible challenges as well as positive outcomes of a successful placement, whilst enabling us to put the right measures and structures in place to fully support each and every child in our care.

“The NFA Group has implemented a new online tool for children and young people to use which will elicit their views and feelings about their education and social needs. This is an imaginative and positive innovation.”

Ofsted report, 2019

Case studies

Our care stories help demonstrate the difference NFA Group makes to children’s lives across the UK every single day.

We take a look at Sam and Conrad’s experiences in care within the NFA Group as prime examples of how our care services can inspire children and young people towards the incredible futures that they deserve.

NFA Group SportsConrad

Conrad is also sixteen years old and has secured fantastic marks in no fewer than 11 subjects at his school, including grades of 9 in history, maths, chemistry, physics and English literature, as well as an A in Business Studies and an A* in Systems and Control.

As with Sam, Conrad was also brave enough to step out of his comfort zone and venture to the Scottish Highlands with BES for the expedition which took place in Easter 2019, and is going to at the alternative summer trip with BES to the Peruvian Amazon, where he will be looking to make use of his aptitude in science to explore the wonders of the rainforest.

Conrad is a keen windsurfer, paddle-boarder and PC gamer outside of college surrounds.

“Since finishing my exams I joined a gym and enjoyed time off from studying but I’m back at college now doing maths, further maths, physics and geography. I’m not sure what career I want to follow yet, but I’m interested in engineering and science.”


Sam is sixteen years old and she was neglected as a child. Sam has been in NFA Group care with the same foster carers for nine years. Her attendance at the time of leaving school at the end of Year 11 was over 95%, which helped towards her gaining good GCSE passes in English, maths, double science and RE.

Her performance at GCSE level has allowed her to pursue a career as a veterinary nurse, for which she is currently studying towards.

Sam has also been very pro-active outside of her vocation, as she has completed her Bronze and Silver Duke of Edinburgh’s Award (DofE), as well as taking part in the British Exploring Society (BES) expedition to the Scottish Highlands for eight days at Easter, which she will follow-up with a far flung trip with BES to the Canadian Yukon this summer.

Therapeutic approaches

Mockingbird Fostering Model

When improving the lives of thousands of young people, their families and wider communities in which they belong through an unwavering focus on caring and learning, we are always looking to find ways of perfecting our services where we can.

We have sought a different type of foster carer approach that we trust will lead to an increased likelihood of carers feeling content in their roles to empower vulnerable young people in society and be at the forefront of a care provider service making positive change.

Based on an innovative approach to foster care first originating from The Mockingbird Society in America in 2004, we apply the therapeutic ‘Mockingbird’ method to further support our foster carers who feel that they need additional help to sufficiently support a child or young person with complex emotional and mental health challenges under their care.

This unique fostering wraparound service is put into effect with an experienced carer placed at the heart of a community within a ‘Hub Home’. This enables them to support up to ten ‘satellite’ fostering families and carers with specialist training, confidential therapy sessions with qualified psychotherapists, emergency respite and mentoring on a round-the-clock availability basis.

Maintaining regular contact with each respective child or young person’s birth family is highly encouraged where possible, with other significant objectives of the model including:

  • Enhanced opportunities for foster children to learn, develop and succeed
  • Maintaining permanence of relationships
  • Wellbeing of the fostering household
  • Recruitment and retention of foster carers

With an emphasis on consistency and maintenance of strong relationships between the experienced carer and the satellite foster families, the Hub Home is on hand to provide both formal and informal support to the foster families when they need someone to talk to.

They will also organise social events that work to bring the community together, empowering children and young people in our care the chance to feel part of a wider supportive family network and to build strong bonds with their carers, thereby leading to increased placement stability and happier looked after children and young people.