View London Child Protection Procedures View London Child Protection Procedures

3.6.1 Education of Looked After Children


This chapter applies to all looked-after and previously looked-after children. It should be read in conjunction with the following government guidance documents:

Promoting the Education of Looked-After and Previously Looked-After Children, Statutory guidance for local authorities, February 2018

The Designated Teacher for Looked-After Children and Previously Looked-After Children, Statutory guidance on their roles and responsibilities

Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years: Statutory guidance for organisations which work with and support children and young people who have special educational needs or disabilities

Keeping Children Safe in Education, Statutory guidance for schools and colleges

Supporting Pupils at School with Medical Conditions (2014): Statutory Guidance for Governing Bodies of Maintained Schools and Proprietors of Academies in England (DfE)

Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools

Islington's Social Care Staff Education Handbook

Also see: Children not Receiving a Suitable Education: Policy and Procedures

Note: that different provisions apply to children who acquire Looked After status as a result of a remand to local authority accommodation or Youth Detention Accommodation. In relation to those children, please see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure, Care Planning for Young People on Remand.


Children and Young People Aged 0 - 25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Procedure

If you are looking for any standard templates to use that are listed in these procedures, please click on this link below as this will take you to the Children's Social Care area of Izzi (the council's intranet).

N.B. This is only possible if you are logged into the Council's network.

There are a lot of template documents there but if there is anything you cannot find, please contact the relevant Team or Operational Manager for the area of practice concerned.

Click here to access Izzi.


This chapter was substantially updated in April 2019 and should be re-read in its entirety.


  1. Islington's Virtual School for Children Looked After (CLA)
  2. The Personal Education Plan (PEP)
  3. When a Child First Becomes Looked After
  4. Reviewing and Updating PEPs
  5. When a Child Moves to a New Local Authority
  6. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School
  7. When a Child has No School Place
  8. Celebrating a Child's Achievements
  9. When a Child is Absent From School
  10. School Exclusions
  11. Children and Young People with Medical Conditions
  12. Training for those Involved in the Care and Education of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children
  13. Information Sharing

    Appendix 1: Primary PEP Template

    Appendix 2: Secondary PEP Template

1. Islington's Virtual School for Children Looked After (CLA)

Virtual School - Educational Support Service

Islington has always prioritised the educational needs of Children Looked After. There has been a Virtual School Head (VSH) with responsibility for promoting the educational opportunities and achievements of Children Looked After (CLA) since May 2008, and a Virtual School and staff team since September 2008.

Islington’s Virtual School offers a specialist education support service for Children Looked After (CLA) and is part of Targeted and Specialist Children’s and Families Services (TSCSC) and the integrated CLA service based at 3 Elwood Street.

The virtual school education service includes:

  • A VSH lead officer responsible for ensuring that Islington discharges its education duty promoting education of CLA;
  • Supporting and challenging schools to create the best outcomes for CLA;
  • Offering educational advice and guidance to social workers, schools, carers and other professionals;
  • Updating Corporate Parents about new education legislation, policy, and best practice;
  • Attending Personal Education Plan (PEPs) school meetings;
  • Monitoring how schools are using the Pupil Premium Plus to raise the attainment of our CLA. Advising schools on the most effective way of how the funding can be used;
  • Arranging additional tuition for CLA, mainly in year 6 and 11;
  • Delivering training sessions for social workers, foster carers, designated teachers and governors;
  • Finding appropriate/new schools where necessary;
  • Arranging visits to universities and ‘subject taster days’ through the ‘Widening Participation’ programme;
  • Promoting literacy through foster carer training, ‘Books for Keeps’ and Islington libraries programmes and events;
  • Hosting an annual education celebration event for the children and young people at Arsenal Emirates stadium;
  • Organising wider education experiences for Early Years children and their carers for example theatre trips to Sadler’s Wells.

Team information

The VS team currently comprises the following full time posts:

  • Head teacher;
  • Advisory Teachers x2;
  • Attendance and Inclusion Coordinator;
  • Education Officer/Mentoring Coordinator;
  • Business, Data & Systems Coordinator;
  • Post 16 ETE Coordinator (from 1st December 2014);
  • Education Officer (from 15th December 2014);
  • Management Information Officer/data and performance (from 15th December 2014).

The virtual school must produce regular key performance data for the Corporate Parenting Board and Children and Families Management Board. The regular Education Strategy Group senior managers meeting discusses scrutiny, strategy and priorities for promoting the education of CLA.

Our core services for Early Years and schools include:

  • Administration of Pupil Premium, CLA Mobility and Virtual School funding to raise attainment and support transition into care;
  • Offer of Early Years Setting visit to provide advice and guidance around CLA;
  • Point of contact and liaise with Social Care to facilitate joint working;
  • Feedback on the quality of Personal Education Plans;
  • Regular information for designated teachers around the education of CLA and new developments;
  • Specific help and advice around educating CLA and preparation of Ofsted.

2. The Personal Education Plan (PEP)

Every looked-after child from early years to 18 must have Personal Education Plan (PEP). The PEP for looked-after children allows the Virtual School Head, social worker, residential staff/carer and Designated Teacher at the child's school in conjunction with the child, to set out what needs to happen to meet the educational needs of the child. It provides essential information to ensure that appropriate support is in place to enable the child to achieve the targets set and reach their potential. It is also a record of the child's aspirations, interests and educational achievement.

The Personal Education Plan should be initiated as part of the Care Plan when 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 meeting.

If for any reason the PEP is cancelled, requests can be made by the Social worker to the Virtual School Head for a “Staged PEP”.

The Social Worker is responsible for ensuring that the Virtual School, Designated Teacher and carer have a copy of the latest version of the completed PEP and is submitted to the Virtual School inbox

The Designated Teacher should chair the PEP Meeting. The designated teacher also leads on how the PEP is developed and is used in school to make sure the child’s progress towards education targets is monitored, The Virtual School has a quality assurance role ensuring education targets are recorded, SMART and linked to the Pupil Premium grant and funding to support attainment.

Click here for more guidance on Islington Virtual School for Children Looked After. Pupil Premium Plus Policy (September 2014).


The Virtual School Head must approve of any change of school places that occurs due to a change of placement other than at normal transition times e.g. Year 7 effecting a child 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.

In those circumstances, the Local Authority must make appropriate arrangements to promote the child’s educational achievement as soon as reasonably practicable. The receiving local authority must informed and children looked after in areas have schools available.

  • The child’s wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
  • The wishes and feelings of the parent(s) have been ascertained where the child is accommodated (where possible) and where appropriate where the child is subject to a Care Order);
  • The educational provision will promote educational achievement and is consistent with the PEP;
  • The Independent Reviewing Officer has been consulted;
  • The Designated Teacher at the child’s school has been consulted.

3. When a Child First Becomes Looked After

3.1 Notification

As soon as a child becomes looked after (if not before), the child's social worker must notify the school / education provision where the child is placed a Personal Education Plan meeting arranged. Regular liaison should then be maintained.

The Personal Education Plan Meeting should address those areas as set out in the Personal Education Plan Meeting Agenda document.

Schools will receive an electronic copy of the PEP from the Virtual School to be used for all subsequent PEPs.

If the child is known to have an Education, Health and Care Plan or Statement of Special Educational Need or to be under assessment, the social worker should ensure the relevant SEN Team is informed.

3.2 The First Personal Education Plan

The Virtual School should be invited to all PEP Meetings by the social worker. Where the child has no school place, a PEP Meeting should still take place and the Attendance & Inclusion Coordinator in the Virtual School is responsible for the search of a school place.

The completed PEP should be distributed to the child, parents, staff/carers and all others invited to the meeting.

A copy of the PEP must be forwarded to the Virtual School inbox for CLA. The Virtual School monitors the completion and quality of all PEPs.

4. Reviewing and Updating PEPs

4.1 Timing of PEPs

The PEP is a statutory document that must be reviewed termly, 3 times a year, or when a young person has a change of placement, or school. It is the social worker's responsibility to coordinate this meeting, collate completed documents and ensure it is held within prescribed timescales.

In exceptional circumstances, if there is a valid reason why the PEP can not be held within the required time frames an email should be sent to the Head Teacher of the Virtual School requesting a 'staged' PEP.

Where possible PEPs should correspond with the Looked After Review cycle and PEP decisions and recommendations must be available to the child's Independent Reviewing Officer at the Looked After Review.

4.2 Pupil Premium for Looked After Children

The Pupil Premium will be awarded where the needs of a pupil is identified in a high quality plan within the PEP with clear SMART targets for improvement, underpinned by well-targeted support and effective strategies. The Pupil Premium must be used to improve outcomes for children in the following areas: (See Pupil Premium Plus Policy (September 2014)).

Academic achievement and progress

  • Wider achievement e.g. in an area in which the child is gifted and talented;
  • Attendance;
  • Inclusion (by reducing internal and external exclusion);
  • Social Skills;
  • Transition into the next key stage and/or a new learning provider;
  • Mental Health.

5. When a Child Moves to a New Local Authority

If the child is to be placed in a different local authority and need a new school, an application should be completed in advance of the move to ensure that there is an appropriate educational provision available. The Attendance & Inclusion Coordinator will search for a school with an Outstanding or Good Ofsted report and liaise with that borough’s School Admissions team. The social worker needs to inform the virtual school of the proposed foster carer’s details. The Virtual School will advise as to which schools in that area are judged by Ofsted to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ Unless there are exceptional evidence-based reasons, Looked After children should never be placed in a school judged by Ofsted to be ‘inadequate’.

If a child has a Statement of SEN or EHCP then the SEN Team in the home authority this needs to transfer to the child’s case to be with the Special Needs Department of the Local Authority where the child is to be placed. It is the receiving SEN department's responsibility to consult with schools in the area to secure appropriate education.

The residing local authority Local Authority is responsible for amending the Statement of SEN or EHCP and for naming the new provision on this document. It is possible that a Statement of SEN will be converted into EHCP at the same time.

The child should not be moved to a new placement until s/he also has education arrangements in place whenever possible. School details must be amended and kept up-to-date on ICS. The Virtual School track and monitor all children looked afters’ education, attainment and attendance data. The Virtual School holds education responsibility for all children looked after on it roll.

Click here to view The Islington Virtual School: Out of Borough CLA Notification Form.

6. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School

Choosing or applying for a school place is primarily the child's social worker's responsibility but in exceptional circumstances may be delegated to, or shared with, others. Changes of school should be minimised to avoid disruption to the child's education and should not take place in the middle of a school year or in years 10 and 11, unless this is unavoidable. A change of school can not be made without the agreement of the Virtual School headteacher.

School details must be amended and kept up-to-date on ICS by the social worker.

6.1 Notification

At least one member of staff in the school - the Designated Teacher or the Head Teacher - must be informed by the social worker prior to commencing at the school that the child is Looked After and 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 concerning confidentiality.

6.2 Pupils with Statements of Education, Health and Care Plans

A change of school at any time needs the agreement of the relevant local education service maintaining the Education, Health and Care Plan. This needs to be planned for as early as possible as it can cause long delays.

The child’s social worker should ensure that he/she is aware of the current position with regard to the Plan, including any additional support provided and by whom.

6.3 The First PEP in a New school

A PEP needs to be initiated within 10 days and held within 28 days following a change of school.

7. When a Child has No School Place

Finding a school place is primarily the social worker's responsibility but may be delegated to or shared with foster carer. The Virtual School needs to be consulted regarding choices of school.

It is responsibility of the LA in which the CLA resides to educate the young person. For children who are waiting for education provision, the LA should be asked what interim education they can provide. Responses from Local Authorities will vary.

The Virtual School is not a statutory education provider. However, the Virtual School may be able to provide emergency, short-term education package in some cases to ensure continuity of education.


7.1 PEPs

Children without a school place should still have an up-to-date PEP. The Virtual School should be involved in this PEP. It should address the child's immediate educational needs and longer-term planning with regard to reintegration into an educational provision.

For more information on securing education and admission arrangements please refer to Islington's Attendance Policy for CLA and Islington's Social Care Staff Education Handbook.

8. Celebrating a Child's Achievements

The PEP should record educational and other achievements and these should be acknowledged at the PEP Meeting and at Looked After Reviews. The Virtual School holds an annual celebration event to acknowledge achievement.

Recording a Child's Achievements

A Looked After Child's educational attainments at the end of each stage Key Stages GCSE, A Level and NVQ should be recorded, including on ICS.

9. When a Child is Absent From School

The foster carer must notify the school and the child's social worker immediately if the child does not attend school for any reason.

In any case where the child has been absent from school for more than 3 days, the social worker should liaise with the school, the child, residential staff/carers and any other relevant person to address:

  • The reasons for the absence;
  • How to ensure the child returns to education as soon as possible;
  • Whether and how the child can be helped to catch up on what s/he has missed.

Where necessary, the Children Missing from Care Procedure must be followed - see London Child Protection Procedures.

Islington has a comprehensive attendance policy in place with well-developed systems in response to absence from school. These include:

  • Looked After Call monitoring all CLA's attendance on a daily basis;
  • No appointments to be made during school hours;
  • No holidays to be taken or agreed to during term time;
  • A trigger notification system at particular points of absence;
  • An attendance targeting procedure for CLA at risk of missing 25 days or more of school;
  • An Attendance Action Plan procedure for CLA with attendance issues.

For more information please refer to Islington Virtual School’s Attendance Policy.

10. School Exclusions

Where a school has concerns about a Looked After child’s behaviour, the VSH should be informed and, where necessary, involved at the earliest opportunity. This is to enable the VSH, working with others, to:

  • Consider what additional assessment and support (such as additional help for the classroom teacher, one-to-one therapeutic work or a suitable alternative placement) needs to be put in place to address the causes of the child’s behaviour and prevent the need for exclusion;
  • Make any additional arrangements to support the child’s on-going education in the event of an exclusion.

10.1 Fixed Term Exclusions

Where a looked after child is excluded from school, the child’s social worker must inform the child’s Independent Reviewing Officer.

Headteachers should, as far as possible, avoid excluding any looked after child. Exclusion from school should be a last resort for children who are looked after, therefore it is important to work with the school and carers to intervene as soon as a child's behaviour becomes a cause for concern.

Where a child is excluded from school for a fixed period, the school will provide work for the child for the first five days of the exclusion. The social worker must liaise with the residential staff/carers and the attendance & inclusion coordinator about suitable arrangements for supervising the child doing the schoolwork during the day and ensuring the child does not go out during school hours. With effect from the sixth day the school should provide a place for the child to be educated. The government advises it is good practice for school to provide appropriate full-time provision from the first day of any exclusion for CLA and this should be requested from the school however schools often do not have the resources to provide this.

The school will communicate the reasons for the exclusion to the foster carer and virtual school and the social worker. Whoever is the most appropriate one to do so will discuss this with the child. The social worker should inform the parents, if appropriate.

The social worker, in consultation with the child and parents, must seek advice as to whether to appeal against the decision to exclude the child. The Virtual School should be contacted for assistance in this instance.

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 ensure a reintegration meeting is held within the five days to discuss his/her return and how best this can be supported. It is good practice for a professional from the Team Around the Child to be present at any reintegration meeting (in addition to the carer) but for any exclusion, which is not the first for the child in the school year, a professional from the TAC must be present. The Virtual School monitors the attendance at reintegration meetings and any relevant outcomes.

For more information and guidance regarding the exclusions of CLA please refer to Islington's Exclusion Policy.

10.2 Permanent Exclusions

The Virtual School must be contacted immediately when notified of a permanent exclusion.

When a child is permanently excluded but is remaining in the same foster or residential placement, the social worker will liaise urgently with the local education service in which the child is living to find an alternative school placement. Again, for the first five days of the exclusion the school will provide work and the child must not be out in public during school hours. From the sixth day the local authority will arrange for a place for the child to be educated.

In the case of permanent exclusion a meeting of a committee of governors will be held within fifteen days to review the decision. If the committee decides to uphold the decision to permanently exclude, an appeal can be made within fifteen school days. The appeals form can be completed by a foster carer or anyone who has Parental Responsibility for the child. It is generally good practice to appeal against permanent exclusion of a CLA unless there are compelling reasons why not to do so.

For more information and guidance regarding the exclusions of CLA please refer to Islington's Exclusion Policy.

11. Children and Young People with Medical Conditions

From 1 September 2014, governing bodies have a statutory duty to make arrangements to support pupils at school with medical conditions. The Designated Medical Officer can support schools with these duties. For more information see Supporting Pupils at School with Medical Conditions (2014): Statutory Guidance for Governing Bodies of Maintained Schools and Proprietors of Academies in England (DfE).

12. Training for those Involved in the Care and Education of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children

Islington virtual school offers training to those responsible for promoting the educational achievement of Looked After children. This includes carers, social workers, Designated Teachers, School Governing bodies and IROs.

13. Information Sharing

To follow.


Click here to view Appendix 1: Primary PEP Template

Click here to view Appendix 2: Secondary PEP Template