In all the ongoing discussions about education it is very easy to overlook the special needs of various groups of vulnerable children, whose educational development all too often takes second place to solving a myriad of appalling problems which they face at a very young age.

I was, therefore, pleased to read recently that Ofsted has begun to take an interest in the education of those children looked after by the local authorities (once known as "children in care"), and have noticed that half of the local authorities are not doing enough to prioritise school attendance and academic achievement in those children for whom they have parental responsibility.

This is a subject dear to my heart since, for many years, I prepared for publication a whole range of research papers and books on all aspects of child care - sexual abuse, neglect, adoption, fostering, children's homes and the like - and was often surprised and disturbed by what seemed to be a cavalier attitude to the education of those children in local authority care.

Indeed, research pointed out the fact that at any given moment, ten per cent of all cared-for children were out of school altogether and receiving no formal education.

Quite understandably, the focus in child care tends to be on child protection and coping with children with manifold appalling problems, finding them a place of safety where they can grow up, but it still seems to me to be short-sighted to neglect the education of such children in favour of what might seem more pressing concerns.

These already disadvantaged children, when they finally leave a care setting and have to fend for themselves will, of necessity find themselves more open to abuse, poverty and homelessness if they have no academic qualifications to help them find a job. Too many ex-care children, without family support or the means of getting a job, find themselves living on the streets.

I am, of course, aware of the difficulties of finding children placements appropriate to their needs but frequent changes of placement (which are far too common) inevitably lead to changes of school and serious disruption to the child's education.

Children forced to move both home and school frequently never get chance to settle and, given their already vulnerable emotional state, often gain little from the educational experience.

Unless social workers place more emphasis to the need for continuity of education then vulnerable children will continue to fall by the wayside on leaving care.

On reading one research paper I was horrified to read that, when a questionnaire was given to social workers to fill in and one question asked, "How often do your children visit the public library?" the question was often left unanswered.

When the researcher asked why, he was told by a social worker: "It doesn't apply to our children. They're working class and don't visit libraries." This appalling attitude may well be changing, but, if Ofsted is to be believed, not quickly enough.

Tony Blair's "education, education, education" must apply not just to the fortunate ones but to the most vulnerable.