School and Education


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What is a Virtual School?
  3. Fostering Education Liaison Officer
  4. The Kent Pledge
  5. The Personal Education Plan and ePEP
  6. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School
  7. Avoidance of Disruption Whilst at School
  8. When a Child Moves to a New Local Authority
  9. Celebrating a Child's Achievements
  10. Safeguarding in Schools
  11. When a Child is Absent from School
  12. Holidays and Short Breaks
  13. School Exclusions
  14. When a Young Person Becomes Pregnant
  15. School Transport


1. Introduction

Children in Care may have experienced disrupted education due to changes in their placements. This can 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 Fostering 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, access to a computer, the internet and appropriate financial support for trips and after school clubs. A lap top will be provided from the Kent Pledge after 6 months for children aged 11 years +;
  • 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 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.


2. What is a Virtual School?

The Virtual School acts as a local authority champion to bring about improvements in the education of Children in Care (CiC) and Young Care Leavers (YCL) and to promote their educational achievement as if they were in a single school. Ensuring that they receive a high quality education is the foundation for improving their lives.

The school does not exist in real terms, or as a building. Children do not attend it - they remain the responsibility of the school at which they are enrolled. VSK is simply an organisation which has been created for the effective co-ordination of educational services at a strategic and operational level.

What do we do?

  • Influence policy and develop and improve services for CiC and YCL;
  • Promote individual achievement, health, and wellbeing;
  • Provide advice, support and training to professionals, schools, colleges and institutions;
  • Improve access to specialist services, including health assessments, mental health assessments and treatment;
  • Provide access to professional advice and guidance on education, training and employment. For details of all VSK Training please click here;
  • Provide additional opportunities for out of school learning and leisure.


3. Fostering Education Liaison Officer

The role of the Fostering Education Liaison Officer (FELO) is to ensure that the child or young person's home life supports their learning and that they are able to get the most out of the educational and social opportunities available to them. FELOs aim to identify issues or concerns at an early stage and link to specialist services and to other agencies.

The day-to-day work of the FELO includes talking with foster carers and supporting you at meetings. They work closely with VSK professional colleagues such as Assistant Heads and Children in Care Specialist Nurses, for example on issues of speech and language development. FELOs also work closely with Fostering Teams and Fostering Social Workers and have access to expertise from Specialist Education Welfare Officers.


4. The Kent Pledge

Our pledge to Kent's children and young people in care.

We understand that being in care and leaving care is not always easy and that it can bring extra challenges and pressures for you. If we are going to get it right for you we need to make a real difference to help you do your best and have success in your life. Our pledge includes a number of things we will do that will help make sure that your time in care is a positive experience. These are based around six themes:

  • A sense of belonging;
  • An adult who is always there for you while you are in care;
  • A good education;
  • Good memories for the future;
  • Getting ready for being an adult;
  • Championing your needs and interests.

Education

Education is an important pathway to a better life, and Virtual School Kent is dedicated to improving the achievement and attainment of children and young people in care.

Children in Care are more likely to underachieve at school because they experience disruption to their family life and education. Some have low expectations, poor emotional and psychological health and lack family support.

Improving the educational attainment and achievement of Children in Care to a level equal or close to their peers is a priority for Virtual School Kent.

Raising of the Participation Age

From June 2013 the government has increased is increasing the age to which all young people in England must continue in education or training requiring them to continue until the end of the academic year in which they turn 17 from 2013 and until their 18th birthday from 2015.

Raising the participation age (RPA) does not mean young people must stay in school; they will be able to choose one of the following options post 16:

  • Full time education, such as school, college or home education;
  • An apprenticeship;
  • Part time education or training if they are employed, self-employed or volunteering full-time (which is defined as 20 hours or more a week).

For more information Virtual School Kent have written a brief guide or for more detailed information see the DfE guidance.


5. The Personal Education Plan and ePEP

What is a Personal Education Plan (PEP)?

This is a document describing an agreed course of action to help a young person reach their full academic and life potential. Every young person in care should have at least two PEP meetings per academic year. For those young people new into care, and of school age, their first PEP meeting should be held within 20 working) days (10 working days if placed in an emergency) of them coming into care.

A PEP is made up of various sections, some of which needs to be completed before the meeting. You will be required to complete the 'Carers Summary' section before the meeting so you can share relevant information about how the young person is at home, and how learning is promoted and supported out of school. To do this for a Kent CIC you will need access to EPEP.

The PEP contains the information that is needed to help guide the meeting discussions, along with the planning and delivery of what is required to make sure the young person receives the support and resources they need to succeed academically. The PEP is also a useful tool to keep track of the young person's progress towards their individual targets.

What is ePEP?

For Kent Children in Care we are using an online web based system to complete an electronic PEP (ePEP), please see the ePEP website.

Rewards Points

Carers can nominate reward points for their Kent Children in Care via the ePEP system to recognise and celebrate some of the excellent and exceptional work that our young people do throughout the year. Where more than one point is requested the VSK Deputy Head will have the final decision.


6. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School

Choosing and applying for a school place is the child's social worker's responsibility. However foster carers may be asked to visit possible schools and asked for their views on which school will best meet the needs of the child. All applications for school places must go through the admissions service and VSK will also be involved in the decision making.

Changes of school should be avoided as this will significantly disrupt the child's education. It should not take place in the middle of a school year or in years 6, 10 and 11, unless this is absolutely unavoidable.

The new school will have access to the child’s PEP through the EPEP system, but will be provided with a school information form (SIF) by the social worker. Other members of school staff who need to be aware of the CIC should be identified at the PEP meeting, taking into account the child's wishes about confidentiality.

Statements of Special Educational Needs: now Education, Health Care Plans or EHCP
A change of school at any time needs the agreement of the relevant local education service maintaining the statement.


7. 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.


8. When a Child Moves to a New Local Authority

If the child is to be placed in a different local authority and will therefore need a new school, this should be discussed and planned for before the child is moved (unless it is an emergency placement).

he 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 Statements of Special Educational Needs or EHCPs:
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 a statement of special educational needs. The education service for the area to which the child is moving should therefore be requested to adopt the statement. This needs to be planned as early as possible as it can cause long delays.


9. Celebrating a Child's Achievements

Children’s educational (and other) achievements should be acknowledged at one or more of the following times: at Child in Care Reviews; at the PEP meeting, at school-based meetings; in school reports; and after exams. VSK hosts two annual award ceremonies; one for those in Key Stage 4 and below and one for young people in Year 12 and above.

A Child in Care's educational attainments at Key Stages 1-3, GCSE, A Level and GNVQ should be recorded, including on the electronic record and in the PEP.


10. Safeguarding in Schools

Looked After Children 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).


11. 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.


12. Holidays and Short Breaks

Children should miss school to undertake a short break or holiday with their carers. It is expected that all holidays will take place during the school Holiday period.


13. 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 5 days of the exclusion.

The 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.

From the 6th 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 5 days, the social worker should make sure a meeting is held within the 5 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 VSK to find another school placement.

In the case of permanent exclusion a meeting of the governors will be held within 15 days to review the decision. If the meeting decides to uphold the decision to permanently exclude, an appeal can be made within 15 school days. The appeals form can be completed by you or anyone who has Parental Responsibility for the child.


14. 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. They should talk to the Designated Teacher for Children in Care at the school to ensure an appropriate plan is in place.


15. School Transport

In order to keep a child at the same school, those with responsibility for school transport should be approached to provide help with transport. A decision will be made taking into account the child’s age and the distance from the child’s address to the nearest suitable school.