School and Education


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. The Personal Education Plan (PEP)
  3. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School
  4. Avoidance of Disruption Whilst at School
  5. When a Child Moves to a New Local Authority
  6. Celebrating a Child's Achievements
  7. When a Child is Absent from School
  8. Holidays and Short Breaks
  9. School Exclusions
  10. When a Young Person Becomes Pregnant
  11. School Transport
  12. Pupil Premium-Advice and Guidance to Foster Carers


1. Introduction

Looked After Children may have experienced disrupted education due to changes in their placements. This will have an impact on how well they do and how they feel about themselves and school.

It is vital that a child’s educational arrangements and needs are discussed with the child’s social worker and your supervising social worker before the placement starts.

You play an important role in promoting education, including pre-school and providing a learning environment outside of educational settings for the child/young person.

Your role:

  • Keep nursery, school, alternative education or college informed of any significant. changes and issues;
  • Help the young person to express their concerns or aspirations and advocate on their behalf;
  • Attend open evenings and any school meetings needed and encourage where appropriate parent’s involvement;
  • Provide uniform, equipment including a computer and appropriate financial support for trips and after school clubs;
  • Establish clear expectations and support with attendance, punctuality, uniform, and completion of homework;
  • Liaise with the school and other agencies including the child’s social worker if non school attendance is an issue;
  • Support a child/young person to achieve their education or training goals;
  • Encourage a child/young person to look at alternative education/placements, further or higher education or training;
  • Have up to date information about progress and attendance;
  • Contribute to the on-going assessment of the child’s educational needs and progress including the support of the Personal Education Plan (PEP);
  • Record any relevant information with regards to the child/young person;
  • Speak to the child’s social worker if you have any concerns.


2. The Personal Education Plan (PEP)

All Looked After Children of compulsory school age must have a PEP, even if they are not currently in education. It provides important information to make sure that the right support is in place so that the child can achieve their targets. It should also be a record of the child's leisure interests and educationally what has been achieved.

The child's social worker should arrange a meeting to put together the first PEP within the first 10 days of a child becoming Looked After.

Who should be invited?

  • You;
  • The child and their parents if appropriate;
  • The Designated Teacher at the school;
  • Any other relevant professionals.

If the child is excluded from school, the Head Teacher, an education officer and the SEN adviser if needed should be invited.

The first PEP should:

  • Identify what may have caused or may cause a negative effect on the child’s education;
  • Identify the child’s needs and targets, (e.g. to maintain the current school place, make transport arrangements, find a new school, obtain short-term interim education);
  • Include any Individual Education Plan or other school-based plan;
  • Identify a named person for the day to day management of the PEP and establish how the school will keep in contact with you and the social worker;
  • Be clear about who needs to know about the PEP in school;
  • Agree a date for the next PEP review meeting and when the next (full) PEP is due.

The completed PEP should be given to you, the child, their parents, and all others invited to the meeting. A copy should also be sent to the child's Independent Reviewing Officer.

The PEP covers the following

  • History of education and training including information about educational settings attended and the reasons for leaving, attendance and behaviour record, academic and other achievements, any special educational needs;
  • How much the child’s education has been disrupted before becoming Looked After;
  • What arrangements are currently in place for education and training, including details of any special educational provision;
  • Any planned changes to arrangements;
  • The child’s leisure interests;
  • Your role and any other person who cares for the child in promoting their educational achievements and leisure interests.

The child’s social worker must ensure PEP review meeting take place on time.

PEP decisions and recommendations must be shared with the child's Independent Reviewing Officer at the Looked After Review.

If there are changes in arrangements such as a change of school or if the child may need private tuition, these recommendations should be taken to the child’s Looked After Review.


3. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School

Choosing and applying for a school place is usually the child's social worker's responsibility but in some circumstances may be delegated to you or shared with others.

Changes of school should be avoided as this will disrupt the child's education. It should not take place in the middle of a school year or in years 10 and 11, unless this is unavoidable.

They should be provided with a copy of the child's current PEP. Other members of staff who need to know should be identified at the PEP meeting, taking into account the child's wishes about confidentiality.

Education Health and Care Plans:
A change of school at any time needs the agreement of the relevant local education service maintaining the plan.


4. Avoidance of Disruption Whilst at School

A Senior Manager (Nominated Officer) must approve any change of placement affecting a child in Key Stage 4, except in an emergency/where the placement ends because of an immediate risk of serious harm to the child or to protect others from serious injury.

In those circumstances, the Local Authority must make appropriate arrangements to promote the child’s educational achievement as soon as possible.


5. When a Child Moves to a New Local Authority

If the child is to be placed in the area of a different local authority and will need a new school, this should be looked at (unless it is an emergency placement) begin well before they move.

The Education Officer and, if needed, the SEN adviser, should be asked to help with this.

Where possible a child should not be moved to a new placement until they have a school place.

Pupils With Educational Health and Care Plan (Previously called Statements of Special Educational Needs):
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 an EHC Plan. The education service for the area to which the child is moving should therefore be requested to adopt the EHC Plan. This needs to be planned as early as possible as it can cause long delays.


6. 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 Reviews; in the PEP, at school-based meetings; in school reports; and after exams.

Most TACT offices hold an annual celebration to mark the particular achievements of looked after children in their area. You will be invited to these events and asked to nominate children in placement who have achieved a personal goal, either in education or through their leisure pursuits.

A Looked After Child's educational attainments at Key Stages 1-3, GCSE, A Level and GNVQ should be recorded in the Children’s information file, and will be included by your supervising social worker on the electronic record and in the PEP.


7. When a Child is Absent from School

You must notify the school and the child’s social worker immediately if the child does not attend school for any reason.

If the child has been absent from school for more than 10 days, the social worker should talk to you, the school and the child, and any other relevant person to understand:

  • The reasons for the absence;
  • How to ensure the child returns to school or education;
  • Whether and how the child can be helped to catch up on what they have missed.

If the child is missing see also My Foster Child is Missing.

TACT may be able to provide additional resources to support home tuition if the child remains off school for a significant period of time.


8. Holidays and Short Breaks

You should talk to your supervising social worker if you are planning a holiday or short break during term time. It is most unlikely that the local authority responsible for the child in placement with you will agree to the child being taken out of school, except in the most exceptional of circumstances. TACT supports the local authority and school in expecting the child to take full advantage of their education, particularly as their education may have been severely disrupted in the past.


9. School Exclusions

The school should tell you and the child’s social worker the reasons for the exclusion. You should decide with the child’s social worker who should speak to the child. The social worker should inform the parents, if appropriate. The social worker, after talking to the child and their parents, must look at whether to appeal against the decision to exclude the child.

The child’s social worker must also inform the child’s Independent Reviewing Officer.

Exclusion from school should be a last resort for children who are looked after so it is vital that you work with the school as soon as a child's behaviour becomes a cause for concern.

If a child is excluded from school for a fixed period, the school will provide work for the first five days of the exclusion.

The child’s social worker, or your supervising social worker, must talk to you about suitable arrangements for making sure the child does schoolwork during the day and ensuring that the child does not go out during school hours, except as part of a planned arrangement. TACT may be able to offer you some additional support in this area, for instance by asking one of our Children’s resource workers to be involved during periods of exclusion.

From the sixth day the school should provide a place for the child to be educated.

If the child is in primary school and receives a fixed term exclusion or is in secondary school and is excluded for more than five days, the social worker should make sure a meeting is held within the five days to discuss the child’s return and how best this can be supported.

When a child is permanently excluded but is in the same foster home, the social worker should speak to the local education service to find another school placement.

In the case of permanent exclusion a meeting of the governors will be held within fifteen days to review the decision. If the meeting decides to uphold the decision to permanently exclude, an appeal can be made within fifteen school days. The appeals form can be completed by you or anyone who has Parental Responsibility for the child.


10. When a Young Person Becomes Pregnant

Becoming pregnant is not in itself a reason to stop attending school, nor to cease education.

Where a young person becomes pregnant, the social worker must ensure that the young person remains in education if at all possible. This should be discussed with the young person taking into account their wishes and feelings. This should be discussed with the Designated Teacher for Looked After Children at the school to ensure an appropriate plan is in place.


11. School Transport

In order to keep a child at the same school, at the start of a placement, you may be asked to take the child to and from school. This may be very difficult if the school is at some distance, or you have other children to get to school. There may need to be negotiation between the local authority, your supervising social worker, and yourself to work this out. Generally, local authorities will now expect foster carers to transport children to school if it is within 20 miles of the foster home.

This can be a very contentious issue and one that needs careful consideration before you agree to a new placement as local authorities will rarely now pay for taxi’s to transport children, except for very short periods of time.


12. Pupil Premium-Advice and Guidance to Foster Carers

  1. This briefing paper provides an overview of the Government’s policy on pupil premium, how the policy should be implemented at a local level, who is responsible for implementation and who is accountable for how the funding is spent. Finally, that paper provides advice to foster carers on the pupil premium funding and how to raise any concerns;

    Background 
  2. The Government introduced the pupil premium in April 2011. The pupil premium gives schools additional funding to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils from reception to year 11;
  3. In the 2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016 financial years, schools will receive the following pupil premium allocation:
    • Children who have been in local-authority care for 1 day or more will attract £1,900 per child of pupil premium funding;
    • Schools will also receive £1,900 for each pupil who has left local authority-care because of one of the following reasons:
      • Adoption;
      • A special guardianship order;
      • A child arrangements order;
      • A residence order.
    • For each child registered as eligible for free school meals at any point in the last 6 years:
      • £1,300 for pupils in reception year to year 6;
      • £935 for pupils in year 7 to year 11.
  4. If a pupil has been registered as eligible for free school meals and has also left local-authority care for any of the reasons above, they attract the £1,900 rate;
  5. It is important to note that the pupil premium funding for looked-after children does not go direct to their school, like the other pupil premium funding, but goes to the Virtual School Head (VSH) in the local authority. VSHs are responsible for managing the pupil premium funding for looked-after children;
  6. All local authorities must have a VSH in charge of promoting the educational achievement of the children looked after by the authority. The VSH’s role is to:
    • Know how the looked-after children are doing; and
    • Help school staff and social workers to find out about the extra needs of these children and any additional support available to them.
  7. The VSH will also work with the children’s services department of the local authority and with all schools in the area on initiatives to promote the education of children in care;
  8. From April 2015 the VSH will also be responsible for managing the Early Years Pupil Premium (EYPP). The VSH will be in charge of allocating the EYPP to the early years providers that educate looked-after children who are taking up the 3 or 4 year old free early education entitlement;

    How the pupil premium can be spent
  9. The pupil premium for looked after children is managed by the Virtual School Head (VSH) in each local authority. The VSH is responsible for making sure the local authority has set up arrangements for allocating pupil premium funding to benefit all the looked-after children in their area;
  10. The VSH must:
    • Ensure schools and non-mainstream settings spend the pupil premium funding for looked-after children effectively;
    • Be able to demonstrate how the funding is raising achievement for looked-after children; and
    • Work with each school (usually with the school’s designated teacher for looked-after children) to agree how pupil premium funding will be spent to meet the needs identified in the child’s Personal Education Plan (PEP).
  11. In most cases the VSH will pass on the full pupil premium for every looked-after child in their care. However, the VSH is not required to give funding to any educational setting. For instance, if the VSH thinks a school’s spending of the funding is not meeting the needs set out in a looked after child’s PEP they can decide to decrease the funding;
  12. If the VSH retains a proportion or all the funding centrally they should ensure the funding is not used to pay for services that the local authority is responsible for funding as the corporate parent i.e. support for foster carers;
  13. The VSH can advise where it is appropriate to pool the pupil premium to fund activities that would benefit several of the authority’s looked-after children i.e. to fund training for groups of designated teachers or support staff across the authority;
  14. Therefore, so long as the additional needs set out in each looked-after child’s PEP are seen to being met by the school it is possible in practice that a child may not benefit directly from pupil premium funding;

    Accountability for pupil premium funding.
  15. Ofsted revised their inspection framework in July 2014 to include in school inspections report on the attainment and progress of disadvantaged pupils who attract the pupil premium;
  16. Ofsted will recommend that a school commissions a pupil premium review if they identify issues with the school’s provisions for disadvantaged pupils. Other bodies who can also recommend that a school commissions a pupil premium review are:
    • Local authority;
    • Academy trust;
    • Regional schools commissioner;
    • Department for Education.
  17. Schools are also held to account through performance tables, the DfE collect data on:
    • Attainment of the pupils who attract the funding;
    • Progress made by these pupils;
    • Gap in attainment between looked-after children and their peers.
  18. Schools must publish a statement on their website detailing how they spend their pupil premium allocation and the effect this has had on the attainment of the pupils who attract the funding;
  19. The VSH is accountable to senior officers in each local authority;

    Advice to foster carers
  20. Foster carers have an important role to play in supporting the education of the children in their care and can therefore make a valuable contribution to the development of the Personal Education Plan and monitoring that the Plan is being met;
  21. TACT would like to offer the following advice to foster carers:
    • Think carefully about the ‘additional needs’ of the child in your care e.g. cultural identity, additional support because of missed education;
    • Ensure these ‘additional needs’ are included in the child’s Personal Education Plan (PEP);
    • Make sure the child’s PEP is not overly focused on educational attainment but also meets wider outcomes and needs, such as:
      • Social inclusion;
      • Personal development;
      • Religious and culture identity;
      • Building resilience and personal strengths;
      • Creating opportunities to develop interests, skills and personal ‘character’;
      • Providing educational experiences for children who may not have had the opportunities to access these in their early years of schooling;
      • Support through transition points.
  22. The VSH manages the pupil premium funding to support education of looked after children, as set out in the Personal Education Plan. The expectation is that this funding is passed to schools unless there are clear reasons not to do this;
  23. The pupil premium should not be used for activity that the local authority should normally be expected to fund as the corporate parent, such as support for foster carers;

    How to raise a concern
  24. Following advice from the Department for Education if any foster carer or looked after child has concerns about the Pupil Premium and how it is being spent they should:
    • First raise their concern with the school;
    • If the response from the school is not satisfactory then contact the Virtual School Head in their local authority; and
    • Finally, if you are still not satisfied the local authority complaints procedure can be used.

Contact us:

As a children’s charity TACT seeks to influence government policy around children in care issues. If you are experiencing issues or have concerns with the Pupil Premium in your area please contact Kate Lawson (k.lawson@tactcare.org.uk). The more evidence we have of how policies are being implemented the more we are able to argue for change at a national level.

Additional information

More information on the pupil premium policy can be found on the Department for Education’s website, follow the link: GOV.UK.