School age children
All schools must have a designated teacher, who is ideally a member of the senior leadership team. The designated teacher is responsible for championing the educational needs of looked after children in their school and ensuring they have good quality personal education plans.
The designated teacher is often the main point of contact for looked after children in schools. In some larger schools parts of the role may be delegated to a pastoral member of staff such as a head of year or a mentor.
See the Gov.UK website for further information on designated teachers.
Staffordshire self-assessment framework for schools
This framework has been developed in recognition of the good practice that already exists in Staffordshire schools to support the educational progress of looked after children.
Initially it should be used as a tool to assist schools in their self-assessment of existing provision and practice. This will identify any gaps that need to be addressed to provide the best possible inclusive practice and outcomes for looked after children.
The key things that governors need to know:
- The number of looked after children on roll and how well they are performing compared to other young people in their school.
- They should know school targets for looked after children around end of key stage tests and GCSEs.
- They should know the name of their school’s designated teacher and how the school specifically supports looked after and previously looked after children.
- They should be aware that the attendance and exclusions of this specific group is closely monitored and be aware of what your school is doing to avoid the exclusion of looked after children and previously looked after children?
- They should understand how pupil premium is being used to accelerate the progress of each looked after pupil and previously looked after pupil.
- They should have high aspirations for the achievement of looked after pupils and previously looked after pupils.
- They should understand that this is a key vulnerable group and are a high priority for Ofsted inspectors.
If you would like to access governors' training for looked after children please contact the Virtual School and we will add you to our waiting list and advise you of the next available session.
Promoting the attainment of looked after children Back to top
We offer advice and guidance on promoting the attainment and progress of children in care. We are working with schools to implement raising attainment of disadvantaged youngsters (RADY) for looked after children starting with children entering Year 7.
There are a range of projects and initiatives to support raising attainment of children in care including:
- Aspire to university for key stage 3 and 4
- Boarding school for key stage 3, 4 and post 16 education
- Music lessons for year 4
- Aspiration mentors for key stage 4 and post 16
- One to one tuition
- Letterbox reading scheme
For more information discuss with your Virtual School co-ordinator.
You may find these web sites helpful:
Admissions, Attendance and Exclusion Back to top
Wherever possible stability of a school placement should be promoted, and every step taken to avoid school moves wherever possible, especially in key stage 4.
Where it is necessary to move school, this should only be in consultation with the Virtual School. If a looked after pupil needs to move school, good and outstanding schools should be prioritised. If there are good reasons to choose a school that requires improvement this should be explored with the Virtual School.
It is really important that for children in care, many who have experienced gaps in their education are supported to attend school regularly and do not take holiday during term time. We are clear with foster carers and when we commission care from IFAs or Children’s Home that we expect children to attend school regularly during term time - no exceptions!
Any requests for planned absence form school must be in consultation with the Virtual School.
Please notify the Virtual School if a part-time timetable or alternative provision is considered to meet the educational needs of a child in care. Any plans to reduce education should only be in consultation with the Virtual School and should be recorded in the young persons e-PEP. All partners including school and social care must be assured that any risks are managed and that there is good oversight of the provision.
Schools should be especially sensitive to exclusion issues where looked after children are concerned. Our policy is that looked after children should never be permanently excluded from school. Looked after children are particularly vulnerable to exclusions. The effect on them can be catastrophic. On occasions, foster placements break down as the exclusion takes effect.
Schools need to be proactive, providing support and perhaps alternative educational packages to prevent this from happening. Early dialogue with all involved with the young person is essential and the mechanism of the personal education plan can assist this. The plan should reflect strategies being used to avoid permanent exclusion.
Please notify the Virtual School as early as possible of any concerns around behaviour. Where we can get in early there is a range of support we can consider to support schools and prevent the situation from escalating. Children in care should never be sent home unless it is through the formal exclusion process. The Virtual School should be contacted before any proposed exclusion takes place. Where in exceptional circumstances a looked after child has been excluded, education provision should be put in place from the first day of the exclusion.
Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)
The majority of looked after children have special educational needs. Some children may have undiagnosed special needs when they start to be looked-after.
As part of the personal education plan (PEP) process there should be robust arrangements in place to ensure that any undiagnosed special educational needs are addressed through the graduated response as soon as possible.
Where a looked after pupil has a statement or education health and care plan (EHCP) this should work in harmony with his or her care plan to tell a coherent and comprehensive story of how the child’s needs are being met.
Annual reviews of EHCPs and PEPs should be planned together so that plans are aligned so that everyone has a shared understanding of short and longer-term plans and avoid unnecessary duplication. The PEP document works alongside the EHCP and should be seen as a termly review of educational progress which feeds into the EHCP.
Please contact us for advice and support if you are concerned that a pupil has SEND needs that are not being met.
For information on SEND, please see Staffordshire Connects.