Education

REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS

Regulation 5 – Engaging with the Wider System to Ensure Each Child's Needs are Met

The Education Standard

The Enjoyment and Achievement Standard

The Care Planning Standard

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Promoting the Education of Looked After Children and Previously Looked After Children (DfE)

Keeping Children Safe in Education (DfE)

Designated Teacher for Looked-after and Previously Looked-after Children (DfE)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended throughout in May 2022 to reflect Keeping Children Safe in Education Statutory Guidance and the outcome of Ofsted’s thematic report, Review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges (June 2021). Please see Section 5, Safeguarding in Schools.

Section 1, Responsibilities of the Placing Authority and additional material has enhanced the Personal Education Plans (PEPs). A new Section 1.3, Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) Funding has been added. Section 5, Safeguarding in Schools was updated to reflect the importance of sharing allegations or concerns about an adult’s behaviour.


Contents

  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 under section 22 (3A) and 23ZZA of the Children Act 1989 (as amended by section 4 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017.

All residential managers and staff in the Home must therefore ensure that everything is done for children in their care to enable and support them to receive an appropriate education so that they can reach their full potential.

If the child is an unaccompanied migrant child, looked after by a local authority, they are entitled to the same local authority support as any other Looked After Child: to have a safe and stable placement; to receive the care that they need to thrive; and the support they need to fulfil their educational and other outcomes.

Some unaccompanied children who have recently arrived in the country may never have had access to education before. Appropriate education for unaccompanied children may include a period of time in a setting where their full educational needs can be assessed and integrated into their Personal Education Plan (PEP). They may need time to be prepared for and then become used to formal education, and their initial educational outcomes may include cultural orientation and life skills appropriate to their age. The Home will have a key role in this.

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.

In addition, the PEP should have:

  • An up to date and accurate chronology of education and training history which provides a record of the child's educational experience and progress in terms of National Curriculum Assessments, 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;
  • A clear statement clarifying 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;
  • A description of any planned changes to existing arrangements and provision to minimise disruption;
  • A description of the child's leisure interests;
  • A description of 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;
  • A description of how the Pupil Premium is assisting the child's progress and applications for bursaries should be discussed as part of PEP Meetings;
  • Details of who will take the plan forward, with timescales for action and review are an essential aspect of all PEP planning.

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:

  • The Admission process for the school;
  • Designated teachers for Looked After and Previously Looked After Children (see Relevant Guidance above);
  • The School Safeguarding policies (see also Safeguarding Issues Section);
  • The School Bullying policies;
  • The Virtual School Head.

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.

Child to 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).

The Home should work closely 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 to ensure the child’s needs are met holistically. Where there is disagreement/conflict over the best interests of a child, the Home’s Registered Manager should seek to resolve this and include the child’s social worker where necessary.

For more information about PEPs, see NT&AS Website.

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.

1.3 Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) Funding

Looked After are eligible for Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) funding. This is additional funding provided to help improve the attainment of Looked After Children and close the attainment gap between these children and their peers. It is not a personal budget for individual children. The extra funding provided by the PP+ reflects the significant additional barriers faced by Looked After and Previously Looked After Children. The designated teacher has an important role in ensuring the specific needs of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children are understood by the school’s staff and reflected in how the school uses PP+ to support these children.

The PP+ is a key component in ensuring resources are available to support the child’s Personal Education Plan and the plan should clarify what the support is and how it will be delivered.

The PP+ for Looked After Children is managed by the Virtual School Head (VSH).


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.

See also Countering Bullying Procedure.


3. Arrangements for Education

To follow.


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 his or her 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, including emotional, physical abuse and harm; bullying and cyber-bullying; upskirting ; sexting (also known as youth produced sexual imagery); sexual harassment, etc;
  • 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.

An Ofsted thematic review (Review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges (Ofsted, June 2021) identified substantial levels of sexual harassment for both girls (90%) and boys (nearly 50%) in a thematic review – usually in unsupervised settings. Sexual harassment and sexual violence exist on a continuum and may overlap. Where the latter occurs, there could be a criminal offence committed.

The Ofsted Review of sexual abuse in schools and colleges also recognised a wide variety of behaviours that children and young people told (them) happened online including:

  • Receiving unsolicited explicit photographs or videos, for example ‘dick pics’;
  • Sending, or being pressured to send, nude and semi-nude photographs or videos (‘nudes’);
  • Being sent or shown solicited or unsolicited online explicit material, such as pornographic videos.

Keeping Children Safe in Education (see Relevant Guidance) notes that with regard to sexual harassment, all staff working with children are advised to maintain an attitude of ‘it could happen here’ and must respond to all reports and concerns about sexual violence and/or sexual harassment, including online behaviour and incidents that have happened outside the school/college. This could include picking-up information from other pupils.

All staff in Children’s Homes should ensure they give children time and space to check with them that school is going satisfactorily – not necessarily relying on their school to make them aware. The Ofsted report reflected that schools were often unaware of the levels of sexual harassment.

Nevertheless, the Ofsted thematic review also reflected that children said they did not bring events to the attention to staff for fear of losing control over events and the subsequent consequences. Staff should carefully consider this balance of judgement with their manager, but always be prepared to monitor and evaluate events with the child to prevent the likelihood of significant harm to them.

The Home’s staff should discuss serious issues further with the child’s social worker when concerned; it may be that there is a safeguarding issue requiring a strategy meeting or Child Protection Conference. (See Referring Safeguarding Concerns Procedure).

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.

Staff should be made aware how to share and respond to any allegations and concerns about an adult’s behaviour, no matter how small, and who this should be reported to and that this should be done without delay.

Staff codes of conduct and safeguarding policies should explain what constitutes an allegation and what a low-level concern is and the importance of sharing concerns.

For supporting resources on low level concerns see also: NSPCC Responding to Low Level Concerns in Education.

They will also explain that staff must report any concerns regarding Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), modern slavery, trafficking or exploitation.

[1] Upskirting is against the law. See also: GOV.UK, Upskirting: know your rights
[2] NSPCC, Sexting: advice for professionals