1. Introduction
2. Responsibilities of the Placing Authority
  2.1 PEPs
  2.2 Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) Funding
  2.3 SEN Support Plans
3. Responsibilities of the Home
4. Safeguarding in Schools
5. Exclusion/Refusal to Attend School

1. Introduction

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.

2. Responsibilities of the Placing Authority

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

Delegation of authority in relation to education should be recorded in the child’s Placement Plan.

2.1 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 Looked After Review and considered as part of 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 Registered Children’s Homes Manager should obtain one from the child’s 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 Children Looked After within school, and 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.

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

2.2 Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) Funding

Both Looked After and Previously looked After children are eligible for Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) funding. This is additional funding provided to help improve the attainment of Looked After and Previously 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+ for Looked After Children is managed by the Virtual School Head (VSH). However the PP+ for Previously Looked After Children is managed by the school.

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.

2.3 SEN Support Plans

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

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

In order to maximise educational opportunities, it is essential that teaching staff and Children’s Care Officers work co-operatively in an attempt to provide a meaningful and relevant 24 hour curriculum. Education is not limited merely to the classroom, it is a continuous process which occurs throughout the waking day.

Children’s Care Officers 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. Children’s Care Officers should 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 processes for local schools;
  • Role of Designated teachers for Looked After Children;
  • Role of Virtual School Head (VSH).

Children’s Care Officers  need to have knowledge and skills in regard to the child’s education and training targets and the next steps for learning.

Children’s Care Officers should challenge the education / training provider if the child does not have the support to progress as outlined in their plans.

Children’s Care Officers should act as advocates for or on behalf of a child.

Children should have access to a computer and the internet. Support should be given in regard to safeguarding, see - Staying in Touch, the Safe Use of the Internet, Social Media and Taking Photographs Procedure.

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

The Registered Children’s Homes Manager should challenge the 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.

Children’s Care Officers must ensure that children have adequate space, time, opportunities and support to complete homework and take part in extra curricular 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.

Children’s Care Officers, 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.

4. Safeguarding in Schools

Children Looked After 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;
  • 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).

5. 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. The Children's Care Officer 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, Children’s Care Officers should ask the school to provide study materials for the young person to complete during the period of their exclusion or refusal. The young person should be provided with support and assistance to complete 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, Children’s Care Officers  will work closely with the child’s social worker to identify an appropriate alternative educational placement. Whilst an alternative placement is being sought, the home will endeavour to provide a short term educational package.