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7.5.3 Education of Looked After Children

RELATED GUIDANCE

Looked After Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Promoting the Educational Achievement of Looked After Children (July 2014)

Keeping Children Safe in Education

Supporting pupils at school with medical conditions: statutory guidance from the Department for Education

Guidance on Designated Teacher for Looked After Children

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)

0 to 25 SEND Code of Practice: a Guide for Health Professionals- Advice for Clinical Commissioning Groups, Health Professionals and Local Authorities

Exclusion from Maintained Schools, Academies and Pupil Referral Units in England: A Guide for those with Legal Responsibilities in Relation to Exclusion

Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools - Guidance (DfE, 2016)

AMENDMENT

Please note 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 and Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure, Care Planning for Young People on Remand.

AMENDMENT

In March 2017, the link (above) was updated to Supporting Pupils at School with Medical Conditions: Statutory Guidance for Governing Bodies of Maintained Schools and Proprietors of Academies in England (DfE).


Contents

  1. Duty to Promote the Educational Achievement of Looked After Children
  2. When a Child First becomes Looked After
  3. Avoidance of Disruption of Education
  4. When a Child Moves to a New Local Authority
  5. When a Child has No School Place
  6. School Attendance
  7. Celebrating a Child’s Achievements
  8. School Admissions
  9. School Exclusions
  10. Personal Education Plan
  11. Reviewing Personal Education Plans
  12. When a Young Woman becomes Pregnant
  13. Children and Young People with Medical Conditions
  14. Training for those involved in the Care and Education of Looked After Children
  15. Information Sharing


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

Under section 22 (3A) of the Children Act 1989, local authorities have a duty to promote the educational achievement of Looked After children. Section 99 of the Children and Families Act 2014 imposes a requirement for an officer to be appointed to discharge this duty – also 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 and to ensure that this person has appropriate training.

An up-to-date list of Designated Teachers should be maintained to assist with communications and assist other authorities that 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;
  • Virtual School Heads (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 IROs 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 Reviewing Officers (IROs),  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.

Governing bodies should ensure that appropriate staff have the information they need in relation to a child's Looked After legal status (whether they are looked after under voluntary arrangements with consent of parents or on an interim or full Care Order), and contact arrangements with birth parents or those with Parental Responsibility. They should also have information about the child's care arrangements and the levels of authority delegated to the carer. The designated safeguarding lead, through the Designated Teacher for Looked After children, should have details of the child's social worker and the name of the Virtual School Head.

The Virtual School Head should promote a culture that takes account of the child's views according to age and understanding in identifying and meeting their educational needs


2. When a Child First becomes Looked After

As soon as a child becomes looked after (if not before), the child's social worker must notify the education service where the child is placed. If the child is known to have an Education, Health and Care Plan or to be under assessment, the social worker should ensure the relevant SEN adviser 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 meeting arranged. Regular liaison should then be maintained.


3. Avoidance of Disruption of Education

The 2010 Regulations’ set out very clearly under Regulation 10 the duty of the child or young person’s social worker to do everything possible to minimise disruption to their education placement. This is particularly so in Key Stage 4, years 10 and 11, where a change of school should only be made in exceptional circumstances.

If it is not possible to maintain an existing educational place then the social worker should:-

  • Not arrange a care place without arranging at the same time an alternative education provision for the child or young person - unless the placement is made in an emergency for the child’s immediate protection; and
  • Ensure that the care placement is able to support the child’s educational needs and aspirations and that the child is reintegrated into school or other appropriate educational setting.

Where a school placement has been made in an emergency or where education provision breaks down, the social worker should ensure that a new school is secured within 20 days. In all other cases, suitable education should be arranged before a child is placed.

Factors to consider when the child initially comes into care, or there is a placement change regarding changing school, are:

  • The length of the proposed placement;
  • Is it possible to transport the child or young person to and from school either on a short or long term basis? Are there any practical or cost implications?
  • What would be the impact of continuing to go to school some distance from where the child is currently living;
  • Would the young person be able to do the same courses if they changed schools?
  • Are there any key milestones that would be affected if the child or young person moved - SAT’s and GCSE’s.

If a child or young person needs to change school then every effort should be made to ensure this occurs:

  • At the end of school year or term;
  • Primary/secondary transition;
  • The end of Key Stage 3 - year 9.


4. When a Child Moves to a New Local Authority

If a child is placed in the area of a different local authority but continues to attend the same school as before, the procedure outlined in Section 10, The First Personal Education Plan applies.

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 SEN adviser, should be provided with a full educational history and asked to assist in the search for a school place. 

Whenever possible a child should not be moved to a new placement until s/he also has a school place.

Where the child does not have a school place - see Section 5, When a Child has No School Place.

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 a Education, Health and 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 long delays.


5. 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.

5.1 PEP’s

Children without a school place should still have an up-to-date PEP. It should address immediate the child's educational needs and longer-term planning.

5.2 Children Placed within 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 adviser, in appropriate cases). 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.

5.3 Children Placed in a Different Local Authority Area

Where the child does not have a school place because one cannot be found, or the child has been placed at very short notice, the child’s social worker should notify the education service in the area where the child is placed and request that a school be identified for the child as soon as possible. The assistance of the local education service (and the local SEN adviser if appropriate) should also be sought. Unless Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans (see Section 5.4, Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans below) applies, the education service local to the placement 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.

5.4 Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans

Applications for school places for pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan should be made through the special needs section of the local education service maintaining the plan, not directly. This needs to be planned for as early as possible as it can cause long delays. 

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


6. School Attendance

Research indicates that looked after children under achieve significantly in comparison to their peers for a variety reasons including non-school attendance. There is a direct correlation between achievement and attendance particularly at the latter stages of a young person’s career. As a consequence Local Authorities are charged with monitoring the school attendance of Looked After children and young people to identify those who are accumulating significant levels of absence.

The Education Welfare and Access Service will work with parents/carers, social workers and the school to agree an appropriate action plan to encourage and promote and increase in attendance. Termly reports will be sent to the designated teacher to highlight attendance relates of looked after children within their school.


7. 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.

A Looked After Child's educational attainments at Key Stages 1-3, GCSE, A Level and GNVQ should be recorded, including on the electronic record and in the PEP.


8. School Admissions

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.

8.1 Normal Admissions

Regulations made under the School Standards and Framework Act 1988 (as amended by the Education Act 2005), require admission authorities to give looked after children the highest priority in their admission arrangements. This states that looked after children and young people are to be offered admission in preference to other children.

8.2 Non Routines Admissions

Outside the normal admission round a maintained school must admit a Looked After child if requested to do so. Where the admission of a child into an infant class would breach infant-class size legislation, a Looked After child can be admitted as an excepted pupil.

The guidance states that social workers, supported by their managers, should be proactive in:

  • Finding and maintaining a suitable full-time school place for looked after children (or supporting carers to do this on their behalf);
  • Encouraging the Local Authority to challenging any admissions authority which they believe is not giving top priority to Looked After children in its over-subscription criteria;
  • Asking the relevant Local Authority to provide the child with appropriate education while he/she waits for a school placement.


9. School Exclusions

It is important to be especially sensitive in relation to exclusions where looked after children are concerned. Every practicable means should be tried to maintain the child in school. The head teacher should work with others in the Local Authority and schools to ensure that measures are taken across the authority to promote positive behaviour and reduce exclusions.

No looked after child should be excluded from a school/Pupil Referral Unit without discussion with the Local Authority to ensure that there is suitable alternative provision available elsewhere. In the event of a child being permanently excluded from school then the Local Authority has a duty to provide full-time alternative education from the sixth day following the exclusion. In the case of a Looked After child it is recommended that such provision should be in place from the first day following the exclusion.

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 an exclusion.


10. Personal Education Plan

The Personal Education Plan (PEP) is what needs to happen for looked after children and young people to enable them to fulfil their potential and reflects any existing education plans, such as a Education, Health and Care Plan, or Individual Education Plan (IEP). The PEP should reflect the importance of a personalised approach to learning which secures good basic skills, stretches aspirations and builds on life chances.

The PEP is the joint responsibility of the Local Authority and the school.

Except where a child enters care in an emergency, the PEP should be initiated as part of the Child Plan before the child becomes looked after. In the case of an emergency placement the PEP should be initiated within ten working days.

The PEP should not be considered in isolation from other parts of the Child Plan and it should interrelate with all other strands particularly relating to health, emotional and behavioural development, identity, family and social relationships.

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.

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

The PEP is an evolving record, and arrangements for the flow of information to develop, review and update the PEP 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.

10.1 Guidance Notes

This guidance explains the procedure for completing PEPs in order to comply with Promoting the Educational Achievement of Looked After Children: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities (DCSF, 2010).

General Points

  • Every child and young person in public care of needs a Personal Education Plan which ensures access to services and support; contributes to stability; minimises disruption and broken schooling; signals particular and special needs; establishes clear goals and acts as a record of progress and achievement’ (Education of Young People in Public Care Guidance para. 5.17);
  • The Personal Education Plan should encourage better joint working - encouraging dialogue between social workers, schools and carers - as well as underlining the importance attached to the young person’s education. The PEP must be produced as a result of a meeting between the relevant people to agree actions. The PEP must not be a paperwork exercise completed via the post;
  • ASPIRE administration assistant is responsible for initiating the PEP in partnership with the child or young person, designated teacher, parent and/or family member, carer and any other person that may be relevant;
  • The PEP is an integral part of the Child Plan and must reflect any existing education plans;
  • Guidance states that a PEP should be agreed as soon as possible and at least within 10 school days of entering care or joining a new school;
  • Where a PEP has not been prepared in time for the first LAC Review, a PEP planning meeting may be held at the end of the LAC Review. This can only occur if the relevant people are in attendance. Where this is not the case, ASPIRE must arrange a PEP meeting as a matter of priority (no later than 4 weeks after the first LAC Review).

10.2 Newcastle’s Personal Education Plan

  • At least one PEP meeting will take place each school year;
  • For children in pre-school provision a Pre-School PEP will be completed;
  • For school age children the regular PEP form will be completed;
  • An educational achievement liaison worker, based within ASPIRE will be present at all initial PEP meetings and most PEP review meetings;
  • This will ensure that PEPs are completed within timescales and to an acceptable level. In most circumstances the child’s social worker will still be expected to attend the PEP meeting, but it would be possible, in some circumstances, for the educational liaison worker to represent the Directorate, if the social worker is unable to attend. In these circumstances the liaison worker will need a copy of an Statutory Assessment or CR4;
  • The ASPIRE administration assistant is responsible for arranging the PEP meeting at school and this could be coordinated to link to a Care Team meeting, if the social worker and school are in agreement. The Care Team meeting could then also take place at school directly after the PEP meeting (the Social Worker is still responsible for the invitations to the Care Team meeting);
  • The PEP meeting should still take place at school, even if the Care Team meeting is not taking place at school;
  • In some circumstances, where a Looked After child’s placement is a considerable distance from Newcastle, the liaison worker will take the lead in coordinating the PEP meeting. This will include discussing suitable targets and actions with the designated teacher prior to the meeting, but might not necessarily involve the liaison worker attending the PEP meeting. In these circumstances the child’s Social Worker must attend the PEP meeting;
  • If the PEP is completed in time for the first LAC Review then the school will complete a PEP Part D review form in time for the 3 month LAC Review. This form will be requested by the ASPIRE administration assistant, with a copy of the completed form being provided to the allocated social worker and reviewing officer;
  • Newcastle’s PEP consists of four separate parts:
    • Part A - is be completed by the ASPIRE administration assistant with information from social worker, prior to a PEP meeting;
    • Part B - is completed by a school representative prior to a PEP meeting;
    • Part C - is completed at the PEP meeting;
    • Part D - is a progress report form that must be completed by a school representative for the LAC Review taking place between yearly PEP meetings.

The statutory guidance re-confirms the already tight time-scales for PEPs. The guidance also places even tighter deadlines over initiating this process and differentiates between planned and emergency admissions. The adoption of the above procedure ensures adherence to this new statutory guidance and takes away the burden of arranging PEP meetings from social workers. It expected that all social workers will co-operate with this process. Where co-operation is not forthcoming this will be reported to the appropriate team manager in the first instance.

10.3 How to Complete a Personal Education Plan

For a newly looked after child of school age

  • Placements will notify ASPIRE administration assistant of all new LAC within 24 hours;
  • ASPIRE administration assistant will contact allocated social worker to confirm school placement details, whether they are able to attend the PEP meeting, whether or not they are wanting to arrange a Care Team meeting after the PEP meeting, carer’s details, whether birth parents are to be invited to the meeting and any other details required to complete PEP Part A;
  • ASPIRE administration assistant will contact the named school to inform them of the need to produce a PEP and will arrange a time for the PEP meeting;
  • The ASPIRE administration assistant will send out letters to the social worker, school representative (including PEP Part B), foster carer, birth parent (where appropriate), and any other identified relevant professional;
  • If the social worker is unable to attend the PEP meeting they must provide the educational liaison worker in the ASPIRE with a copy of an Statutory Assessment or CR4;
  • The educational achievement liaison worker will bring PEP Part A to the PEP meeting;
  • The school representative will bring the completed PEP Part B to the PEP meeting;
  • At the PEP meeting, the PEP Part C form will be completed by the chair of the meeting. This will ordinarily be the educational achievement liaison worker but may be the social worker in some circumstances;
  • The ASPIRE administration assistant will ensure that copies of PEP Parts A, B and C are provided to the school and social worker. The child’s social worker will ensure copies of the PEP are provided to the child’s carers, parents and other;
  • Appropriate professionals.


11. Reviewing Personal Education Plans

  • Six weeks prior to the mid-school year LAC review the ASPIRE administration assistant will send a blank copy of PEP Part D (PEP Review Form) to the named school;
  • It is expected that the designated school representative will complete PEP Part D and return the form to the ASPIRE administration assistant;
  • The ASPIRE administration assistant will provide a copy of the completed PEP Part D to the allocated social worker, ideally in time for the Care Team meeting taking place before the LAC review;
  • The contents of PEP Part D will be shared at LAC Review by school representative, if present, or by the allocated social worker if school representative not present;
  • A PEP meeting will take place at least once each academic year and this will be coordinated by the EAHST administration assistant;
  • Where a young person changes schools or new significant educational issues arise, a new PEP meeting must be arranged. In these circumstances social workers must liaise with an educational achievement liaison worker to ensure their involvement in this meeting.


12. When a Young Woman becomes Pregnant

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 the young woman remains in education if at all possible and arrange for her to receive support from the education authority for the area in which she lives and/or the school she attends. 


13. 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.


14. 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 IROs.

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.


15. 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.

End