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  1. Responsibilities of the Placing Authority
  2. Our Responsibilities
  3. Arrangements for Education
  4. Exclusion/Refusal to Attend School
  5. Safeguarding in Schools

1. Responsibilities of the Placing Authority

Obtaining a good education can be the key to vastly improving a child’s chances in life. Children in care can be particularly disadvantaged educationally. They will often have had their education disrupted as a result of changes of placements and circumstances, and may not have had the opportunity to develop to their full potential. Some children may have little sense of their abilities and may need encouragement to develop greater self-esteem.

The Placing Authority has a corporate responsibility for promoting the educational achievement of all Looked After Children.

Delegation of Authority in regard to education should be recorded in the child's Placement Plan.

1.1 Personal Education Plans

The Placing Authority must ensure that all children have a school place and a Personal Education Plan (PEP) which promotes their educational achievement. The PEP must be drawn up before the child becomes Looked After (or within 10 working days in the case of an emergency placement), and be available for the first statutory review meeting and all subsequent LAC Reviews.

If it is a subsequent placement, the child should already have a PEP, if this is not the case, the Home's manager should obtain one from the social worker.

PEP’s should:

  • Identify developmental and educational needs in relation to skills, knowledge, subject areas and experiences;
  • Set short and long-term educational attainment targets agreed in partnership with the child and the carer where appropriate;
  • Include a record of planned actions, including milestones on homework, extra tuition and study support, that the school and others will take to promote the educational achievement of the child, based on an assessment of their educational needs;
  • Include information on how the child’s progress is to be rigorously monitored;
  • Record details of specific interventions and targeted support that will be used to make sure personal education targets are met, especially at the end of key stage 2 in relation to English and Mathematics, and at key stage 4 in achieving success in public examinations;
  • Say what will happen, or is already happening, to put in place any additional support which may be required - e.g. possible action to support special educational needs involving the SENCO, educational psychologist, or local authority education services (information contained within a Education Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) does not have to be duplicated in the PEP, a reference is sufficient as long as the plans work together to meet overall needs);
  • Set out information on what will happen or is already happening to identify and support any mental health needs relevant to the child’s education;
  • Set out how a child’s aspiration and self-confidence is being nurtured, especially in consideration of longer-term goals towards further and higher education, work experience and career plans. Discussions about longer-term goals should start early and ideally well before Year 9 (age 13-14) at school. High aspirations are crucial to successful planning for the future. They should focus on young person’s strengths and capabilities and the outcomes they want to achieve;
  • Include the child’s views on how they see they have progressed and what support they consider to be most effective;
  • Be a record of the child’s academic achievements and participation in the wider activities of the school and other out of school learning activities (e.g. sporting, personal development);
  • Provide information which helps all who are supporting the child’s educational achievement to understand what works for them, helping to substitute for the role that parents might otherwise provide; and
  • Have clear accountability in terms of who within the school is responsible for making the actions identified in the plan happen.

The designated teacher would normally have overall responsibility for leading the process of target setting for looked-after children in school, should monitor and track how their attainment progresses, and ensure that identified actions are put in place.

PEPs should be reviewed by the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) at Looked After Reviews.

It is however important that staff work co-operatively and that care staff liaise on a regular basis with teaching staff or with external schools and educational support services, to ensure that educational programmes are appropriately differentiated. Key/Link Workers have regular contact with teachers and co-operate with reviews of key plans e.g. SEN Support Plans, ensuring that education and placement/care plans are consistent with or complement each other.

Staff should have an understanding of:

  • Admission process for the school;
  • Designated teachers for looked after and previously looked after children;
  • Virtual School Head (VSH).

If a Looked After Child from a different local authority area placed in the home, the Virtual School Head of that local authority remains responsible for promoting the child’s educational achievement.

Staff need to have knowledge and skills in regard to the child's education and training targets and the next steps for learning.

Staff should challenge the education / training provider if the child does not have the support to progress as outlined in their plans.

Staff should act as advocates for or on behalf of a child.

Children in the home should have access to online learning, access to a computer and the internet (support should be given in regard to safeguarding and should be in an Online Safety Policy).

Home should work closing with placing authority to support and enable a child who is either excluded or not on a school roll.

Registered person to challenge placing authority if no school education place is identified.

Where a children's home is also an education provider, the home should have a process in place for liaising in regard to the support for the child and also challenge each other when necessary.

1.2 SEN Support Plans

An SEN Support Plan should be drawn up for all Looked After Children, by the school, it sets out the day to day arrangements for educating the child e.g. short term targets, strategies to be used, outcomes.

The school should also be able to explain how Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) funding is used within the school to support the child’s education plan.

2. Our Responsibilities

This section provides guidance on the role and responsibilities of the Home's Manager and staff.

We recognise the importance that education plays in the future experiences and life chances of the young people in our care. We believe that every young person has a right to access education of the highest quality and at a level appropriate to their individual ability and circumstances.

We believe that in order to maximise educational opportunities it is essential that teaching and care staff work co-operatively in an attempt to provide meaningful and relevant 24 hour curriculum. Education is not limited merely to the classroom, education is a continuous process which occurs throughout the waking day. That is not to say that education cannot be enjoyable or fun, there are many educational activities which occur naturally in our work with young people.

It is however important that staff work co-operatively and that care staff liaise on a regular basis with teaching staff or with external schools, to ensure that educational programmes are appropriately differentiated. Key/Link Workers have regular contact with teachers and co-operate with reviews of key Plans e.g. SEN Support Plans, ensuring that education and Placement/Care Plans are consistent with or complement each other.

Key/Link Workers must ensure that children have adequate opportunities and support to complete homework and take part in extracurricular activities.

Children should be encouraged to join a library and have opportunities to access a range of educational support material, including books and specialist educational software.

Each child must have a Personal Education Plan (PEP), which addresses the appropriateness of the child's educational placement and any special educational needs that the young person has. The plan also details the arrangements for monitoring school attendance, and arrangements for parental or social work involvement in the education of the child. The PEP must be drawn up before the child becomes Looked After (or within 10 working days in the case of an emergency placement), and be available for the first statutory review meeting. If a child is placed in the Home without a PEP and it is the child's first Looked After placement, the timescales above apply; if it is a subsequent placement, the child should already have a PEP, if this is not the case, the Home's manager should obtain one from the social worker.

Key/Link Workers, in the absence of parents, must attend all school events that would usually be attended by parents such as open days, school plays etc.

Any young person of statutory school age who is not attending school (or a pupil referral unit) would be provided with an appropriate and differentiated educational programme delivered under the supervision of a qualified teacher during normal school hours. Staff from the home would work closely with the Social Worker to secure a school placement as quickly as possible.

3. Arrangements for Education

Information to be inserted by home.

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4. Exclusion/Refusal to Attend School

On rare occasions young people may either be unable to attend school as a result of exclusion or may choose not to attend school, school refusal. Exclusions are either fixed term; i.e. for a specified number of days after which the young person will return to their school; or permanent; where it is not intended that the young person will return to that particular school.

Due to the close working relationships established between care staff and school based staff it is likely that staff from the home will be aware of any difficulties the young person is experiencing or causing within the educational setting prior to exclusion being used by the school. At this stage staff from the home will liaise closely with school staff in order to provide additional support to the young person during this period of difficulty. All action taken at this time will be recorded in the young person's individual records and the Personal Education Plan (PEP) will be amended to reflect the changed circumstances.

However there may well be situations whereby the school has no option but to exclude the young person without prior warning, for example in response to an isolated incident of a very serious nature. Examples of this would include a serious assault on another pupil or member of staff or the taking of illegal substances into to school.

When young people have been excluded from school or have refused to attend, staff from the home will ask the school to provide study materials for the young person to complete during the period of their exclusion or refusal. Staff from the home will assist and supervise the young person in completing this work during normal school hours.

It is important that any young person who is excluded, and also other young people in the home do not view exclusion from school as an extended holiday. A criticism often levelled at residential care is that too frequently young people have no routine, they are frequently not at school, get up when they please, and at best, spend their days unoccupied and bored. We believe that establishing a balanced approach for young people will achieve positive outcomes.

On those occasions where a young person is permanently excluded from school staff from the home will work closely with the placing authority to identify an appropriate alternative educational placement. Whilst an alternative placement is being sought, we will endeavour to provide a short term educational package.

The individual needs of young people within each service setting will vary greatly; because of such diverse need it is neither possible, nor do we intend to be prescriptive about nature of any alternative educational package provided. All such programmes would be delivered under the supervision of a qualified teacher and would be appropriately differentiated.

5. Safeguarding in Schools

Looked After Children are a vulnerable group. Staff, in the school, should all be aware of the systems in place that will support safeguarding. The aim of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children in education should be:

  • Protecting them from maltreatment;
  • Preventing any impairment of their health or development;
  • Ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with safe and effective care;
  • Being proactive in enabling them to experience positive outcomes.

There should be staff (usually the Designated Teacher or the SEN coordinator) who will be able to share with you information about:

  • The school’s child protection policy and procedures;
  • The Data Protection Act and safeguarding;
  • The child behaviour policy;
  • The staff behaviour policy (code of conduct);
  • The safeguarding response to children who go missing from education.

They will also explain that staff must report any concerns regarding Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).