Information for schools
What schools should do when a young person comes into care
Whatever life has been like before, going into care is a traumatic experience for a young person. They may experience feelings of grief, guilt or shock in the period immediately afterwards, or sometimes later on. Often, there is little to see on the outside, and the child will come to school well cared-for and apparently happy. However, the effects of such a life-changing event should not be doubted.
School is often the most stable aspect of a child in care’s life, and has a crucial part to play in helping emotional wellbeing as well as planning for education:
- Organise and hold a meeting to agree and write a Personal Education Plan is held within 20 working days of the child going into care in consultation with the social worker and the Virtual School
- Identify and ensure that each child in care has a responsible adult who the child can talk to if they want to. It is essential to make it clear that these conversations will be confidential unless there is something so serious that it has to be passed on (as in Child Protection guidance).
- Ensure that there is a clear understanding with the child/young person about the information which can be shared with others.
- Ensure that the child/young person is emotionally well-supported within the school setting.
- Develop a good relationship with the carer.
- Attend reviews and other meetings called by social care. If this is not possible, make sure that a report is sent, outlining any issues or concerns relating to education.
Educational Achievement and Progress
The Birmingham Virtual School supports the educational achievement and progress of Children In Care by taking a leading role in the Personal Education Plan (e-PEP).
The PEP meeting and documentation ensure that the Virtual School:
- provides information, advice and guidance to the children and young people, DT’s, Cares, Social Workers and other professionals.
- monitors the attainment and progress of individual Children In Care
- works closely in partnership with all professionals to increase achievement, progression and inclusion.
- works closely with other professional services eg SENAR, Access to Education
- supports the children and young people to ensure that they achieve their full potential
- provide a programme of support through the Going For Success: Learning links Programme
It is a statutory requirement that every child in care has a PEP that should be monitored and updated, along with the care plan.
- The PEP is an evolving record of what needs to happen for looked after children to enable them to fulfil their potential.
- It's a way of supporting the education of a young person in care.
- It provides a mechanism for consulting, listening to and involving the young person in their educational experience.
- The process should strengthen joint working and corporate parenting.
- The PEP is intended to enhance stability, achieve continuity and raise the expectations and self-esteem of the young person.
- It acknowledges achievement and celebrates success.
- There is an expectation that PEPs will be carried out on a termly basis
Children in care are given the highest priority within school admission arrangements. The admission requirements for looked after children are set out in the Schools Admission Code. This Code applies to maintained schools and academies, including free schools. It is important that admission authorities understand that Fair Access Protocols do not apply to children in care and that they are ‘excepted pupils’ in relation to infant class size regulations.
The local authority, as a corporate parent, does not tolerate drift and delay where children the authority looks after are without an education placement that is appropriate to their assessed needs. This includes using the powers of direction in a timely way rather than delay issuing a direction as a result of protracted negotiation.
The choice of school requires skilled working between relevant people. It should be based on a discussion between the child’s social worker, their carers and, if appropriate, birth parents. The Virtual School Head Teacher should normally be consulted to avoid choosing a school that is unlikely to meet the child’s needs.
In arranging a school place the child’s social worker working with the Virtual School Head Teacher and other local authority staff, where appropriate, should seek a school or other education setting that is best suited to the child’s needs.
The following principles should apply:
- educational provision should mean a full-time place
- schools judged by Ofsted to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ should be prioritised for children in care in need of a new school. Unless there are exceptional evidence-based reasons, children in care should never be placed in a school judged by Ofsted to be ‘inadequate’