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

This chapter should be read in conjunction with:

Promoting the Education of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children

Keeping Children Safe in Education (DfE)

Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years - Statutory Guidance for Organisations which Work with and Support Children and Young People who have Special Educational Needs or Disabilities

Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools - Guidance (DfE)

School Exclusion (DfE)

Children Missing Education – Statutory Guidance for local authorities (DfE)

Designated Teacher for Looked After and Previously Looked After Children (DfE)

See also Derby City Council Website – Personal Education Plans

AMENDMENT

This chapter was amended throughout in September 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 (see Section 5, Safeguarding in Schools). A new Section 2.1, Placing the Child and Section 2.2, The Role of the Virtual Head (VSH) were added and additional material has enhanced Section 2.3, Personal Education Plans (PEPs). Section 5, Safeguarding in Schools was updated to reflect the importance of sharing allegations or concerns about an adult’s behaviour as set out in Keeping Children Safe in Education.


Contents


1. Introduction
2. Responsibilities of the Placing Authority
  2.1 Placing the Child
  2.2 The Role of the Virtual School Head (VSH)
  2.3 Personal Education Plans (PEPs)
  2.4 Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) Funding
  2.5 Avoiding Disruption in Education
3. Responsibilities of the Home
4. Safeguarding in Schools
5. Exclusion/Refusal to Attend School


1. Introduction

Under section 22 (3A) and 23ZZA of the Children Act 1989 (as amended by section 4 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017), local authorities have a specific duty to promote the educational achievement of Looked After, Eligible and Previously Looked After Children.

Obtaining a good education can be the key to vastly improving a child’s chances in life. Children Looked After can be particularly disadvantaged educationally, they may 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.

All residential managers and staff 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.


2. Responsibilities of the Placing Authority

The placing authority has a corporate responsibility for promoting the educational achievement of all Children in Care.

Delegation of authority in relation to education should be recorded in the child’s Placement Plan and be reviewed by the IRO at the child’s statutory reviews

2.1 Placing the child

The Responsible Authority must provide all relevant information regarding a child’s educational abilities at the point of placement (including a current PEP), together with any additional supports required for the child and any potential safeguarding issues.

Where the child will need to change school, and it appears this will not be readily achieved, the responsible authority’s Virtual School Head (VSH) should be involved with school headteachers to confirm the educational arrangements. The Home should be aware and clear about these arrangements at the time of the admission of the child, together with any specific roles and tasks in order to ensure a supported transition. This may include support or guidance in respect of transport arrangements.

In circumstances where the placement is made on an urgent/emergency basis, the Home must advocate for the child to ensure educational arrangements are clarified/made (see Section 3, Responsibilities of the Home).

Unaccompanied Migrant Children: where 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.

2.2 The Role of the Virtual School Head (VSH)

The VSH’s key role is to ensure there are effective systems to:

  • Make sure all relevant professionals are aware of the status of the child and their entitlement to support;
  • Maintain a roll of the Authority’s school-age Looked After Children, together with information about the placements, attendance and educational progress;
  • Inform headteachers and Designated Teachers in schools if they have a child on roll who is Looked After Children 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;
  • Avoid drift or delay in providing suitable educational provision, including special educational provision, and unplanned termination of educational arrangements, through proactive multi-agency co-operation. Where this requires negotiation with other authorities this should be completed in a timely manner and with the best interest of the child as paramount;
  • 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.

2.3 Personal Education Plans (PEPs)

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 Looked After Reviews.

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.

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. The Designated Teacher will help the school and the local authority that looks after the child to decide what arrangements work best in the development and review of the PEP.

In Derby we use an ePEP system (provided by an organisation called Welfare Call). If you require access to the ePEP system please contact the Virtual School for a username and password. If you would like further information on the ePEP, please see the Welfare Call website.

See also the ePEP Model Process, Agenda and examples of targets which has been produced by the Virtual School to help social workers through their PEP responsibilities.

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

2.4 Pupil Premium Plus (PP+)

Looked After children are eligible for Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) funding. This is additional funding provided to help improve the attainment of Children in Care and close the attainment gap between them 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 Children in Care The Designated Teacher has an important role in ensuring the specific needs of Children in Care are understood by the school’s staff and reflected in how the school uses PP+ to support these children.

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

2.5 Avoiding Disruption in Education

The Nominated Officer must approve of 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.


3. Responsibilities of the Home

This section provides guidance on the role and responsibilities of the home's manager and staff.

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.

It is important that all staff work co-operatively to promote the education of Children in Care. Home’s staff should liaise on a regular basis with teaching staff or with external schools and educational support services, to ensure that educational programmes are promoted within the home. Key Workers should have regular contact with teachers and co-operate with reviews of key plans, ensuring that education and Placement/Care Plans are consistent with or complement each other.

Staff should have an understanding of the:

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, see - Staying in Touch - Safe Use of the Internet, Social Media and Taking Photographs Procedure.

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

The Registered Person should challenge the placing authority if no school / education place is identified. The Registered Person should challenge the placing authority if no school/ education place is identified (see Section 2.1, Placing the Child).

In circumstances where a children’s home is also an education provider, the home should have a process in place that promotes information sharing / liaison between the residential and educational parts of the service to ensure the child’s needs are met holistically. Where there is disagreement/conflict, the Local Authority line manager / Senior Officer should resolve any issues, ensuring the social worker and their team manager are involved.

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.

Key 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.

Key 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 and Peer Abuse Procedure.


4. Arrangements for Education

Education is essential for all children, especially those in children’s homes. It is their entitlement. School is an important part of everyday life for them and should be seen as an opportunity to achieve, develop confidence and skills, receive praise and encouragement and learn about and build relationships. For this reason staff should give education a high priority.

Continuity and stability promote educational success for children and supporting schooling is a central part of providing care. Residential staff should maintain close links with the school in order to be able to provide the help, support and encouragement necessary to achieve educational success. Whatever the circumstances or ability of the child the staff team should have high expectations for them and achievements should be recorded and celebrated. Young Achievers Awards are available for individual children by nomination from staff.

Staff should maintain daytime routines that support education, support children with homework and coursework and attend meetings and events at school. There should be relevant and current resources in the home that support young people’s education, for example books, magazines, art materials, stationery, internet access etc.

The child’s key worker or representative should attend the 6 monthly Personal Education Planning (PEP) meeting to discuss with the school and child’s social worker all aspects of the child’s education and learning. A copy of the PEP should be held on the child’s records in the Home and all staff should read and be familiar with it to help achieve its aspirations.

Support and advice on education and learning issues for children in care is available from the Derby Virtual School. Appropriate sources of support should be accessed without delay where there are issues around school placement, transfer, exclusions, attendance and education packages.


5. Safeguarding in Schools

Children in Care are a vulnerable group, and all staff working in schools should be aware of the systems in place to 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 cyberbullying; upskirting [1]; sexting [2] (also known as youth produced sexual imagery); sexual harassment, etc.
  • Preventing any impairment of their mental or physical health or development;
  • Ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with safe and effective care;
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

An Ofsted thematic review (Review of Sexual Abuse in Schools and Colleges (Ofsted)) identified substantial levels of sexual harassment for both girls (90%) and boys (nearly 50%)  – 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 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 the Home 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, 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 (see Referring Safeguarding Concerns Procedure).

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

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).


6. 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 (also known as 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.

Staff from the home should be aware of any difficulties the young person is experiencing or causing within the educational setting prior to exclusion being used by the school. Staff from the home should 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”.

On those occasions where a young person is permanently excluded from school staff from the home will work closely with the Social Worker to identify an appropriate alternative educational placement. Whilst an alternative placement is being sought, we will we will seek to promote and support the child a short term educational package provided by the Local Education Authority.