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4.6.1 Education of Looked After Children

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter applies to all Looked After Children. It should be read in conjunction with:

Promoting the Education of Looked After Children (2014), DfE

Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions (2015): Statutory guidance for governing bodies of maintained schools and proprietors of academies in England, DfE

Special educational needs and disability code of practice: 0 to 25 years - Statutory guidance for organisations who work with and support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (2015)

Keeping Children Safe in Education

Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools – Departmental Advice for School Staff (DfE, 2016)

RELEVANT INFORMATION

Virtual School for Looked After Children (LAC) in the Care of Hull Local Authority.

Virtual School Referral Form

NOTE that different provisions apply to children who acquire Looked After status as a result of a remand to Local Authority Accommodation or Youth Detention Accommodation. In relation to those children, please see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure, Care Planning for Young People on Remand or Youth Detention Accommodation.

RELATED CHAPTER

Children and Young People 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was reviewed and updated in March 2015.
Section 1, Introduction - Duty to Promote the Educational Achievement of Looked After Children was updated to include information on the Duty to Promote the Educational Achievement of Looked After Children. Section 14, Children and Young People with Medical Conditions, Section 15, Training for those Involved in the Care and Education of Looked After Children and Section 16, Information Sharing are all new. Any references to Statements of Special Educational Need were replaced with Education, Health and Care Plans throughout. The chapter should be read in full.


Contents

  1. Introduction - Duty to Promote the Educational Achievement of Looked After Children
  2. The Virtual School Head and The Virtual School for Looked After Children in Hull
  3. The Electronic Personal Education Plan (PEP)
  4. When a Child First Becomes Looked After
  5. The importance of continuity of school and consideration of use of school transport
  6. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School or Academy 
  7. When a Child Has no School Place 
  8. Celebrating a Child's Achievements
  9. Reviewing and Updating the ePEP
  10. When a Child is Absent from School 
  11. Consent for Holiday Leave during Term Time
  12. School Exclusions 
  13. Educational provision during pregnancy
  14. Children and Young People with Medical Conditions
  15. Training for those Involved in the Care and Education of Looked After Children
  16. Information Sharing
  17. Responsibilities of social workers concerning the promotion of education
  18. Responsibilities of foster carers concerning the promotion of education


1. Introduction – Duty to Promote the Educational Achievement of Looked After Children

The Children Act 1989, as amended by The Children Act 2004, places a duty on local authorities to promote the educational achievement of looked after children. This is necessary because the educational achievement of Looked After children as a group remains unacceptably low, and there is still a large gap between the average attainment of LAC and the overall population.

Section 99 of the Children and Families Act 2014 imposes a requirement for an officer to be appointed to discharge this duty – sometimes referred to as a ‘Virtual School Head’ (‘VSH’).

Governing bodies of schools and colleges must appoint a Designated Teacher to promote the educational achievement of children who are Looked After. They must also ensure that this person has appropriate training.

An up-to-date list of Designated Teachers should be maintained to assist with communications, particularly when other authorities have placed children within the authority.

As leaders responsible for ensuring that the local authority discharges its duty to promote the educational achievement of their Looked After children, Directors of Children’s Services and Lead Members for Children’s Services should ensure that:

  • Closing the attainment and progress gap between Looked After children and their peers and creating a culture of high aspirations for them is a top priority;
  • Looked After children have access to a suitable range of high quality education placement options and that commissioning services for them takes account of the duty to promote their educational achievement;
  • VSHs are in place and have the resources, time, training and support they need to discharge the duty effectively;
  • VSHs have robust procedures in place to monitor the attendance and educational progress of the children their authority looks after;
  • The authority’s Children in Care Council (CiCC) regularly addresses the educational experiences raised by Looked After children and is able to respond effectively to such issues.

The Virtual School Head should be the lead responsible officer for ensuring that arrangements are in place to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of the authority’s Looked After children, including those placed out-of-authority.

VSHs should ensure the educational attainment and progress of children Looked After by the local authority are monitored and evaluated as if those children attended a single school.

The VSH should ensure that there are effective systems in place to:

  • Maintain an up-to-date roll of its Looked After children who are in school or college settings and gather information about their education placement, attendance and educational progress;
  • Inform headteachers and Designated Teachers in schools if they have a child on roll who is Looked After by the VSH’s local authority:
    • Ensure that social workers, Designated Teachers and schools, carers and ICROs understand their role and responsibilities in initiating, developing, reviewing and updating the child’s PEP and how they help meet the needs identified in that PEP;
    • Ensure up-to-date, effective and high quality PEPs that focus on educational outcomes and that all Looked After children, wherever they are placed, have such a PEP.
  • Ensure the educational achievement of children Looked After by the authority is seen as a priority by everyone who has responsibilities for promoting their welfare;
  • Report regularly on the attainment of Looked After children through the authority’s corporate parenting structures.
Social workers, Virtual School Heads and Independent Conference and Review Officers (ICROs), school admission officers and Special Educational Needs departments should work together to ensure that - except in an emergency - appropriate education provision for a child is arranged at the same time as a care placement.


2. The Virtual School Head and The Virtual School for Looked After Children in Hull

Hull has a Virtual School Head teacher for LAC. The purpose of the role is to raise attainment and develop a culture of ensuring progression for all children in care.

The Virtual School Head is line manager for the Deputy Virtual School Head who is based with the Integrated LAC (ILAC) service and manages a team of education coordinators, mentors, Transition Worker and Economic Wellbeing PA. Although the team are located with ILAC, they also take referrals from social workers in locality teams. All referrals need to be sent via the Deputy. There is link education coordinator for 2 Elgar Road, and 1123 Hessle Road. Merlin Bridge and Wansbeck Road residential children's homes.

See Virtual School for Looked After Children in Hull.

Click here to access the Virtual School Referral form.


3. The Electronic Personal Education Plan

The Personal Education Plan (PEP) is a statutory requirement which enables the social worker, residential staff/carer and Designated Teacher for looked after children at the child's school or, where the child has no school place, Virtual School Team, in conjunction with the child, to set out what needs to happen to meet the educational needs of the child. The PEP is an integral part of the Care Plan.

Hull has replaced the paper PEP with an electronic, web-based version, referred to as ePEP.

All looked after children of compulsory school age must have a PEP, whether or not currently in education. The PEP should set clear objectives and targets for the child, covering four main areas:

  • An achievement record (academic or otherwise);
  • Developmental or educational needs;
  • Short term targets with strategies and resources, including the use of the Pupil Premium;
  • Long term plans and aspirations.

The PEP provides essential information to ensure that appropriate support is in place to enable the child to achieve the targets set. It is also a record of the child's interests and achievements.

Local authorities should also have a pre-school PEP for under 5s which considers suitable educational opportunities to promote their development and well-being.

The Designated Teacher leads on how the PEP is developed and used in school to make sure the child’s progress towards education targets is monitored, with the Virtual School Head having a quality assurance role.

The child (according to understanding and ability) and, where appropriate, the child’s parent and/or relevant family member should be involved in the PEP process at all stages.

The PEP is an evolving record, and arrangements for the flow of information to develop, review and update it should be in place to ensure the VSH, Designated Teacher, carer and, where appropriate, child and parent have a copy of the latest version of the document. Virtual School Heads should make arrangements for PEPs to be reviewed each school term.

The PEP should:

  • Identify developmental (including any related to attachment) and educational needs (short and longer term) in relation to skills, knowledge, subject areas and experiences;
  • Include SMART short-term targets, including progress monitoring of each of the areas identified against development and educational needs;
  • Include SMART longer-term plans for educational targets and aspirations. These should, according to age and understanding, typically focus on public examinations, further and higher education, managing money and savings, work experience and career plans and aspirations;
  • Identify actions, with time scales, for specific individuals intended to support the achievement of agreed targets and use of any additional resources (e.g. the pupil premium) specifically designated to support the attainment of looked after children;
  • Highlight access to effective intervention strategies and how this will make/has made a difference to achievement levels.

The PEP must include the contact details of the Virtual School Head for the authority that looks after the child.


4. When a Child First Becomes Looked After

4.1 Notification

As soon as a child becomes looked after (if not before), the child's social worker must notify the ICS Events Officer in the home authority, who will inform the virtual school head, and ICS events officer in the authority in which the child has been placed, if applicable.

If the child is known to have an Education, Health or Care Plan or to be undergoing a statutory assessment, the social worker should ensure that the lead SEN Officer is informed.

The child's social worker must also inform the Designated Teacher at the child's school within 48 hours of the child becoming looked after and a Personal Education Plan (PEP) meeting arranged. Regular liaison should then be maintained.

4.2 Avoidance of Disruption in Education

The Nominated Officer must approve any change of placement affecting a child in Key Stage 4, except in an emergency/ where the placement is terminated because of an immediate risk of serious harm to the child or to protect others from serious injury.

In those circumstances, the Local Authority must make appropriate arrangements to promote the child's educational achievement as soon as reasonably practicable.

Before approving a change of placement affecting a child in Key Stage 4, the Nominated Officer must be satisfied that:

  • The child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
  • The wishes and feelings of the parent(s) have been ascertained where the child is accommodated (where possible) and where appropriate where the child is subject to a Care Order);
  • The educational provision will promote educational achievement and is consistent with the PEP;
  • The Independent Conference and Reviewing Officer (ICRO) has been consulted;
  • The designated teacher at the child's school has been consulted.

Other than in Key Stage 4, where the Local Authority proposes making any change to the child's placement that would have the effect of disrupting the arrangements made for education and training, they must ensure that other arrangements are made for education or training that meet the child's needs and are consistent with the PEP.

4.3 The First ePEP

Under the Care Planning, Placement and Review Regulations 2010, the child’s social worker must initiate the ePEP should be as part of the Care Plan before the child becomes looked after (or within 10 working days in the case of an emergency placement), and be available for the first Looked After Child Review meeting. They should also complete Section 1, and ensure that the Designated Teacher is able to log in and complete Section 2.

The child's social worker should arrange a meeting with the Designated Teacher to draw up the action plan for the first ePEP. The child should also be invited to the meeting, along with the carer, parent/s as appropriate, and any other relevant professionals.

Where the child has no school place, a referral must be made to the Virtual School for assistance with the ePEP, and in securing a school place. The lead SEN Officer should also be involved if the child has an Education, Health or Care Plan.

N.B. The provision of education for pupils with an Education, Health or Care Plan can only be changed if the child's Plan has been amended at an annual review.

The first PEP will include brief information about the care plan and current placement, and the following educational details to be completed by the designated teacher in the relevant sections:

  • Include a Chronology of education and training history which provides a record of the child's educational experience and progress in terms of National Curriculum levels of attainment, including information about educational institutions attended and the reasons for leaving, attendance and conduct record, academic and other achievements, any special educational needs, an indication of the extent to which the child's education has been disrupted before entering care or accommodation;
  • Include existing arrangements for education and training, including details of any special educational provision and any other provision to meet the child's educational or training needs and promote educational achievement;
  • Include any planned changes to existing arrangements and provision to minimise disruption;
  • Include the child's leisure interests;
  • Include the role of the appropriate person and any other person who cares for the child in promoting the child's educational achievements and leisure interests and identify a named person for the day to day management of the PEP and establish lines of communication between the staff/carer, school/education staff and social worker - the basis of a working partnership;
  • Identify the child's immediate and priority needs and targets, (e.g. to maintain the current school place, make transport arrangements, find a new school, obtain short-term interim education);
  • Incorporate any Individual Education Plan or other school-based plan.

To complete during the meeting:

  • Establish boundaries of confidentiality;
  • Record of people invited, and present;
  • Short, medium and long term targets and strategies;
  • Identification of how the LAC Pupil Premium is to be used to help meet the targets (not available if the child has not been in continuous care for six months by the start of the current school term);
  • Agree a date for the next PEP review meeting.

The completed PEP should be distributed by the social worker to any professionals, or parents (as appropriate)/carers the child, parents, staff/carers and all others invited to the meeting who do not have access to ePEP.

Subsequent PEP meetings should be held at six monthly intervals, but the new PEP needs to be initiated as soon as the last one has been completed. This allows the gradual addition of data and information in preparation for the next meeting.


5. The importance of continuity of school and consideration of the use of school transport

The child's social worker should do everything possible to minimise disruption to the child's education. See Section 4.2, Avoidance of Disruption in Education.

Continuity of school should always be a prime consideration when a change in care placement is being planned. If a child moves to a care placement which is considered too far for them to travel by foot or public transport to their current school, the social worker must request assistance with transport from the school transport service. An immediate change of school should only be usually be considered if the travelling time to child's present school will be too long, considering their age and other factors.

Transfer to a school closer to a new placement, which is planned to be permanent, should only usually be considered after the child has been settled in the new placement for a period of time and wishes to move to a new school. The social worker needs to check that there will be no adverse effect on the child's education if they move schools, particularly if they are at certain stages in their education.

The social worker must inform the Head of the Virtual School Head of any plans to initiate and transfer of schools, and of the date on which the transfer is to be completed.


6. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School or Academy

The choice of school requires skilled working between relevant people. It should be based on a discussion between the child’s social worker, their carers and, if appropriate, birth parents. The VSH should normally be consulted to avoid choosing a school that is unlikely to meet the child’s needs. Looked After children have been given the highest priority within school admission arrangements. VSHs, working with education settings, should implement pupil premium arrangements for looked after children.

Schools judged by Ofsted to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ should be prioritised for Looked After children in need of a new school. Unless there are exceptional evidence-based reasons, Looked After children should never be placed in a school judged by Ofsted to be ‘inadequate’.

The child’s wishes and feelings should be taken into account and the suitability of the education setting tested by arranging an informal visit with the child.

Statutory regulations require admissions authorities to give looked after children the highest priority in their admission arrangements. Looked after children are entitled to be offered admission in preference to other children both at normal time of entry, and at other times, even when the school is over subscribed.

Choosing and applying to a school place is primarily the child's social worker's responsibility but in exceptional circumstances may be delegated to or shared with others. Whenever possible a child should not be moved to a new placement until s/he also has a school place. School details will need to be amended on Liquidlogic and ePEP and reported to the Virtual School Head. The social worker must adhere to the admissions protocols in the authority in which the child is residing, which usually involve applying directly to the local authority rather than an individual school. Failure to do so can hinder an admission.

If the child is to be placed in the area of a different local authority and will need a new school, efforts to obtain a school place should (unless it is an emergency placement) begin well BEFORE s/he moves to a new placement. The relevant Education Officer and, if appropriate, the lead SEN Officer, should be provided with a full educational history and asked to assist in the search for a school place. The Virtual/Deputy School Head must be kept informed or involved.

6.1 Pupils with Education, Health or Care Plans

Where a child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (previously a statement of special educational needs), the Plan must be transferred – see Children and Young People 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

A change of school at any time needs the agreement of the relevant local education service maintaining the Plan. This needs to be planned for as early as possible in consultation with the carer, social worker and child as it can cause long delays due to the statutory time length of consultation with potential new schools. The following should be named in the Plan:

  • The child's social worker should ensure that he/she is aware of the current position with regard to the Plan, including any additional support provided and by whom;
  • The local education service where the child lives (unless in residential accommodation) is responsible for the placement and provision of education to a pupil who has an Education, Health or Care Plan. The education service for the area to which the child is moving should therefore be requested to adopt the Plan, which will need to be amended. This needs to be planned as early as possible as it can cause delay;
  • The authority to which the child belongs will continue to fund the resources set out in the Plan as long as the child remains looked after.

6.2 Notification

The Designated Teacher must be informed by the social worker at the earliest opportunity that the child is Looked After and be provided with access to the copy of the child's ePEP. Other members of staff who need to know or to have access to the ePEP should be identified at or before the first PEP meeting, taking into account the child's wishes concerning confidentiality.

6.3 The First PEP in a new school

A meeting should be held at the new school within four school weeks of the child’s admission to the school.

A PEP is required for all looked after children, as part of the Care Plan before the child becomes looked after (or within 10 working days in the case of an emergency placement). Please refer to the Hull PEP guidance for slight modifications regarding PEPs for looked after children in special schools, entering a new primary school at the age of 5, or a secondary school at age 11.

For full details, please refer to Section 4.3, The First ePEP.

Subsequent PEP meetings should be held at six monthly intervals, but the new PEP needs to be initiated as soon as the last one has been completed. This allows the gradual addition of data and information in preparation for the next meeting.


7. When a Child has no School Place

Finding a school place is primarily the social worker's responsibility but may be delegated to or shared with others. The Virtual/Deputy School Head must be kept informed or involved.

7.1 Children Placed within or without the local authority area

Where the child does not have a school place because one cannot be found, or because mainstream school is not appropriate to his or her needs, the child’s social worker should notify and seek assistance from the education service (and the SEN officer, in appropriate cases) as well as involving the Virtual School. The local education service should identify a school place within 20 working days at the latest; and should be asked to provide alternative education if a school place cannot be found immediately or is not appropriate.

7.2 Pupils with Education, Health or Care Plans

Applications for school places for pupils with an Education, Health or Care Plan can only be made through the special needs section of the local education service in which the child is residing, and not directly to a school. Formal consultation between the education service and appropriate schools is required before the Plan can be amended. This needs to be planned for as early as possible as it can be a lengthy process.

Responsibility for updating the Plan will rest with the receiving authority where the child's school is in the state sector. Where the child is placed in a school outside the state sector, such as one managed by a private agency, the education service in the placing authority will retain responsibility for updating the plan.

7.3 Completion of ePEP

Children without a school place should must still have an up-to-date PEP, to be completed by the child’s social worker It should address immediate the child's educational needs and longer-term planning. with assistance from the Virtual School Head if there is currently no other involvement from the Virtual School Team.


8. Celebrating a Child’s Achievements

Children's educational (and other) achievements should be acknowledged at one or more of the following times: at Looked After Child Reviews; in the PEP, at school-based meetings; in school reports; and after exams. Children and their carers should also be encouraged to attend any school/college or local authority celebration events that they are invited to.

A Looked After Child's educational predictions/targets and attainments at Key Stages 1-3, GCSE/GNVQ, should be recorded in the PEP, with data supplied by the designated teacher at the child's school. The Head of the Virtual School ensures that such data is also kept centrally, and can be contacted for information regarding grades and progress.


9. Reviewing and Updating the ePEP

The child's social worker must ensure that each ePEP review meeting take place within six months of the last one. PEP decisions and recommendations must be made available to the next Looked After Child Review. The completed PEP should be distributed as detailed in Section 4.3, The first ePEP.

9.1 PEP Decisions and recommendations

Proposals that would lead to significant changes in arrangements (e.g. a change of school, a request for an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment) and/or to increases in expenditure (private tuition, a jointly-funded placement) should be made in the form of recommendations to the Looked After Review.

The child’s social worker should work with the child’s school between Looked After Reviews (involving the VSH if necessary) to ensure that up-to-date PEP information is fed into those reviews, and ensure that all relevant information about the child’s educational progress and support needs is up-to-date and evidenced before the Looked After Review.

ICROs should ensure that the PEP’s effectiveness is scrutinised in sufficient detail as part of the Looked After Review and at other times if necessary. Where a child has Special Educational Needs, the ICRO should ensure that the PEP review is linked with any review of those needs.

 The ICRO should raise any unresolved concerns about a child’s PEP or education provision with social workers and the VSH.

The participants should agree on the action(s) they will each undertake to achieve the improvements in the child's education that they have identified through the consultation/preparation process, and how these will be monitored and reviewed.

The use of the Pupil Premium to support one or more of the targets must be considered and recorded at the meeting.

A strategy with lead person(s) needs to be planned to action proposals that would lead to significant changes in arrangements, such as a change of school, or a request for a statutory assessment of a child's special educational needs. The child's education coordinator needs to be involved in the decision making, and the Virtual/Deputy School Head kept informed.


10. When a Child is Absent from School 

10.1 The residential staff/carer

The residential staff/carer must notify the school and the child’s social worker immediately if the child does not attend school for any reason.

In any case where the child has been absent from school for more than five days, or attendance has been intermittent, the social worker should liaise with the school, the child, residential staff/carers and any other relevant person to address:

  • The reasons for the absence;
  • How to ensure the child returns to education as soon as possible;
  • How the child can be helped to catch up on what s/he has missed;
  • Whether a referral should be made to the Deputy Head of the Virtual School for a team member to provide any necessary assessments, teaching and/or advice or liaison to help address any of the above?

Where necessary, the Children who Run Away or go Missing From Home or Care Safeguarding Practice Guidance must be followed - see Hull Safeguarding Children Board Guidelines and Procedures.

10.2 Attendance information collated from Hull Schools

The Virtual School Head monitors the attendance information which is automatically transferred from the school’s attendance database to the Local Authority’s Capita ONE system.

10.3 Attendance information collated from other local authorities

Welfare Call has been commissioned by Hull Local authority to collate attendance, and notification of any exclusions, on a daily basis for all Hull LAC educated in other LAs, and in some non mainstream provisions in Hull.


11. Consent for holiday leave during term time

See Holidays and School/Organisational Trips Inside and Outside the UK Procedure.


12. School Exclusions

Where a school has concerns about a Looked After child’s behaviour, the VSH should be informed and, where necessary, involved at the earliest opportunity. This is to enable the VSH, working with others, to:

  • Consider what additional assessment and support (such as additional help for the classroom teacher, one-to-one therapeutic work or a suitable alternative placement) needs to be put in place to address the causes of the child’s behaviour and prevent the need for exclusion;
  • Make any additional arrangements to support the child’s on-going education in the event of exclusion.
 Where a looked after child is excluded from school, the child's social worker must inform the child's Independent Conference and Review Officer.

12.1 Fixed term exclusions

Headteachers should, as far as possible, avoid excluding any looked-after child. Fixed term exclusion from a school or academy should be a last resort for children who are Looked After; therefore it is important for social workers to work with the school and carers to intervene as soon as a child's behaviour becomes a cause for concern. A referral should also be made to the Virtual School for advice or support from an Education Coordinator if the behavioural issues continue to affect the child's education.

The school must communicate the reasons for the exclusion to the residential staff/carer and the social worker immediately, ideally by telephone followed letter setting out the reasons for, and the length of, the exclusion. Whoever is the most appropriate one to do so will discuss this with the child. The social worker should inform the parents, if appropriate.

Informal or unofficial exclusions are illegal, even for lunch-times, regardless of whether they are done with the agreement of parents or carers.

Where a child is excluded from school for a fixed period, the school must provide and mark work from the very first day of the exclusion. The social worker must liaise with the residential staff/carers about suitable arrangements for supervising the child doing the schoolwork during the day and ensuring the child does not go out during school hours.

If the exclusion is for more than five days school has a duty to arrange suitable full time educational provision from the sixth day at a venue which will usually be off-site from the school.

If the child is in primary school and receives a fixed term exclusion or is in secondary school and is excluded for more than five days, the Head Teacher must arrange a reintegration meeting with the care/parent and young person. The interview which is to discuss the child's return and how best this can be supported should be arranged at a time and place that is convenient for the care/parent. It should ideally take place on the day the child returns to school, but can do so up to fifteen days later. It is advisable for the social worker and child's education coordinator to also attend the meeting.

The social worker, in consultation with the child and parents, must seek advice as to whether to appeal against the decision to exclude the child.

On the child's return to school the social worker must work with child, school and carer, and the education coordinator to prevent the need for further exclusions. A Pastoral Support Plan (PSP), which will involve regular multi-agency meetings, must be put in place by the school if the behaviour continues to cause concern.

12.2 Permanent exclusions

Schools and academies must avoid permanently excluding any looked after child by using a range of interventions including referring the case the Fair Access Panel for a managed move or transfer to another school, and/or a short stay in a Pupil Referral Unit. This should be done in liaison with the social worker and education coordinator/Virtual School Head.

The school must provide work for the first five days of a permanent exclusion and the child must not be out in public during school hours. From the sixth day the local authority will arrange for the child to be educated, which is likely to be in a Pupil Referral Unit, in the first instance.

There are two stages at which the person with Parental Responsibility is invited to appeal, as detailed in the attached guidance. The child will remain of the school roll for the duration of the appeal process.


13. Educational provision during pregnancy

Becoming pregnant is not in itself a reason to stop attending school, nor to cease education.

Where a young woman becomes pregnant, the social worker must ensure that she remains in education if at all possible and arrange for her to receive the most appropriate support available from the education authority for the area in which she lives and/or the school she attends.


14. Children and Young People with Medical Conditions

From 1 September 2014, governing bodes have a statutory duty to make arrangements to support pupils at school with medical conditions. The Designated Medical Officer can support schools with these duties. For more information see Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions (2014): statutory guidance from the Department for Education.


15. Training for those Involved in the Care and Education of Looked After Children

The VSH should ensure that there are appropriate arrangements in place to meet the training needs of those responsible for promoting the educational achievement of Looked After children. This includes carers, social workers, Designated Teachers and ICROs.

Such training, among other things, should include information about school admission arrangements; Special Educational Needs; attendance and exclusions; homework; choosing GCSE options; managing any challenging behaviour in relation to education settings; promoting positive educational and recreational activities and supporting children to be aspirational for their future education; training and employment, and the importance of listening to and taking account of the child’s wishes and feelings about education and the PEP process.

The VSH should ensure that school governing bodies understand the importance of specific professional development for, as a minimum, their senior leaders and Designated Teachers in supporting the achievement of Looked After children.


16. Information Sharing

VSHs should have access to a secure email account that enables them to exchange information securely with other VSHs in whose area they have placed children.

Arrangements for sharing reliable data must be in place, particularly in relation to the tracking and monitoring of attainment data and notifications of where children, including those placed out-of-authority, are being educated, and must set out:

  • Who has access to what information and how the security of data will be ensured;
  • How children and parents are informed of, and allowed to challenge, information that is kept about them;
  • How carers contribute to and receive information;
  • Mechanisms for sharing information between relevant local authority departments and schools;
  • How relevant information about individual children is passed promptly between authorities, departments and schools when young people move. Relevant information includes the PEP, which as part of the looked after child’s educational record should be transferred with them to the new school.


17. Responsibilities of Social Workers Concerning the Promotion of Education

The social worker for the child must:

  1. Have overall responsibility to ensure that the child's educational needs of the children Looked After are met. The social worker has the prime responsibility to either deliver, or commission and co-ordinate services;
  2. Inform appropriate colleagues in the Directorate of Children and Family Services and school, of the legal status of Children Looked After;
  3. Keep the Designated Teacher informed of any significant events, for example, court cases, contact sessions etc;
  4. Ensure that whenever possible, a child's educational needs are addressed when considering any change of looked after placement;
  5. Ensure all Care Plans, Looked After Child Reviews and other planning processes for each child address his or her education. All targets must be linked to the individual potential of the child;
  6. Ensure schools receive copies of relevant plans including the Placement Plans and that the day-to-day arrangements relating to school transport, clothes and dinner money are addressed. Plans must include where appropriate, details of who will read to the child and supervise homework;
  7. Ensure that tasks contained within the child's Personal Education Plan (PEP) are implemented by named persons/agencies;
  8. Ensure that a new PEP is initiated as soon as possible and a meeting is held within 20 school days of a child becoming looked after or joining a new school, i.e. for the first Looked After Child Review post placement. Where a child is without a school place, the LEA should be asked to provide an officer to liaise with the Social Worker in relation to the PEP;
  9. Contribute actively to the assessment process leading to an Education, Health or Care Plan and the annual review of the Plan;
  10. Keep the Virtual/deputy School Head informed of any significant issues which will impact on attainment or attendance, including school exclusions or planned school/placement changes.


18. Responsibilities of Carers Concerning the Promotion of Education

  1. Contact the school immediately a child is placed and give relevant information;
  2. Go to the school and introduce themselves to the class teacher and Designated Teacher;
  3. Ensure that the child attends school every day;
  4. Accompany the child to and from school, according to the child's age and ability;
  5. Seek support from the child's social worker if problems occur;
  6. Maintain regular contact with the school and try to attend parents' evening and school functions e.g. school plays, sports day;
  7. Ensure that the child has somewhere quiet to study and do homework;
  8. Provide access to a computer, with necessary safeguarding features, where this is necessary to support the child’s education;
  9. Encourage the child to do their homework and offer help where appropriate;
  10. Encourage all children to develop their own talents, interests and hobbies;
  11. Encourage children to enjoy music and play musical instruments;
  12. Ensure that all children join a library, where appropriate;
  13. Build a supply of children's books (these should include books that are anti-racist and anti-sexist and also books particularly relating to the experiences of being looked after);
  14. Read to or with the child as appropriate to age;
  15. Encourage children to watch educational television programmes and videos/DVD's and go on outings to places of interest. Use everyday situations to promote learning;
  16. Encourage children to participate in school and after-school activities;
  17. Keep information on the child's educational circumstances and attainments with the child;
  18. Check with the child how things are at school; discuss education on a routine/regular basis;
  19. Encourage children to do well educationally, consider an appropriate career and go into further or higher education;
  20. Act as an advocate on behalf of the child and intervene immediately if there is a problem with education;
  21. Liaise with social workers (and other relevant people) in relation to educational issues;
  22. Notify the school as early as possible during the first school day of absence;
  23. Supply the school with evidence of the child's illness;
  24. Celebrate success and reward the child when they do well;
  25. Contribute to Personal Education Plans.

Residential staff/foster carers can be the positive advocates for Children Looked After. They deal with the educational issues, problems and successes, on a day-to-day basis. They are the link to teachers, parents and other professionals.

The foster carer's social worker should help foster carers with all these responsibilities and offer support and training for carers to help them improve their role and the educational outcomes of the children they care for.

Educational issues should be thoroughly discussed at foster carer's reviews.

See: Review of Foster Carers Procedure.

End