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3.6.1 Education of Looked-after Children and Previously Looked-after Children

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

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 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 who work with and Support Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities

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

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

Exclusion from Maintained Schools, Academies and Pupil Referral Units in England: A Guide for those with Legal Responsibilities in Relation to Exclusion

Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools, DFE guidance

Data protection: a toolkit for schools
This guidance draws attention to the link between data protection and child protection (although data protection is broader than just child protection) and notes that personal data can relate to pupils, staff, parents and potentially others. It makes clear that GDPR does not prevent, or limit, the sharing of information for the purposes of keeping children safe.

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.

AMENDMENT

In October 2019, this chapter was updated throughout and should be re-read.


Contents

  1. Duty to Promote the Educational Achievement of Looked-After and Previously Looked-After Children
  2. The Personal Education Plan (PEP)
  3. Avoidance of Disruption in Education
  4. When a Child First becomes Looked-After
  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. Safeguarding the Looked-After Child at School
  9. Recording a Child's Achievements
  10. When a Child is Absent from School
  11. School Exclusions
  12. When a Young Woman becomes Pregnant
  13. School Transport
  14. Children with Medical Conditions
  15. Mental Health
  16. Training for those Involved in the Care and Education of Looked-After and Previously Looked-After Children
  17. Information Sharing
IMPORTANT NOTE: in line with guidance "Keeping children safe in education" the term "must" in this chapter is for when the person in question is legally required to do something and the term "should" is used when the advice set out should be followed unless there is good reason not to.


1. Duty to Promote the Educational Achievement of Looked-After and Previously Looked-After Children

Under the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) schools and colleges that are public bodies have a general duty to have regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, to advance equality of opportunity between different groups and to foster good relations between different groups. The duty applies to all protected characteristics and means that whenever significant decisions are being made or policies developed, thought must be given to the equality implications such as, for example, the elimination of sexual violence and sexual harassment. Looked-after children and previously looked-after children may be classed as having protected characteristics as a result of disability, age, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and/or race.

Under Section 22 (3A) of the Children Act 1989 (as amended by Section 4 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017), local authorities have a specific duty to promote the educational achievement of looked-after and previously looked-after children.

A child looked-after by a local authority is one who is looked-after within the meaning of Section 22 of the Children Act 1989 or part 6 of the Social Service and well-being (Wales) Act 2014.

Previously looked-after children are those children who are no longer looked-after in England and Wales because they are:

The subject of an adoption, special guardianship or child arrangements order which includes arrangements relating to with whom the child is to live, or when the child is to live with any person, or has been adopted from 'state care' outside England and Wales.

(A child is in 'state care outside England and Wales if they are in the care of, or accommodated by, a public authority, a religious organisation or any other organisation the sole or main purpose of which is to benefit society).

Statutory guidance issued in February 2018 sets out the framework through which local authorities discharge their statutory duty under 22 (3A) of the Children Act 1989 to promote the educational achievement of looked-after children. The Children and Families Act 2014 require every local authority to appoint and officer to make sure the duty is discharged, referred to as the Virtual School Head (VSH).

The 2018 guidance also set out the framework through which local authorities discharge their duty to promote the education of previously looked-after children. Local authorities are required to appoint and officer to make sure this its duty to promote the education of previously looked-after children in discharged, usually also referred to as the Virtual School Head.

As leaders responsible for ensuring that the local authority discharges its duty to promote the educational achievement of their looked-after children and previously looked-after children, Directors of Children's Services and Lead Members for Children's Services should ensure that:

  • Closing the attainment and progress gap between looked-after and previously looked-after children and their peers and creating a culture of high aspirations for them is a top priority;
  • Looked-after and previously looked-after children have access to a suitable range of high quality education placement options;
  • Commissioning services for them takes account of the duty to promote their educational achievement;
  • VSHs are in place and have the resources, time, training and support they need to discharge the duty effectively;
  • VSHs have robust procedures in place to monitor the attendance and educational progress of the children their local authority looks after;
  • The authority's Children in Care Council (Children Active Involvement Service, CAIS) regularly addresses the educational experiences raised by looked-after children and is able to respond effectively to such issues.

The Virtual School Head is the lead responsible officer for ensuring that arrangements are in place to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of the authority's looked-after and previously looked-after children, including those placed out-of-authority.

VSHs should ensure the educational attainment and progress of looked-after children by their local authority are monitored and evaluated as if those children attended a single school.

The VSH should ensure that there are effective systems in place to:

  • Ensure the status of the child and their entitlement to support is made clear to all the professionals supporting that child;
  • Maintain an up-to-date roll of its looked-after children and gather information about their education placement, attendance and educational progress;
  • Inform Head Teachers and Designated Teachers in schools if they have a child on roll who is looked-after by their local authority;
  • Keep an up-to-date list of all Designated Teachers of schools within their local authority;
  • Ensure that social workers, Designated Teachers and schools, carers and IROs understand their role and responsibilities in initiating, developing, reviewing and updating the child's PEP and how they help meet the needs identified in that PEP;
  • Ensure looked-after children have an up-to-date, effective and high quality PEPs that focus on improving educational outcomes within required timescales;
  • Ensure the educational achievement of looked-after children and previously looked-after children by the authority is seen as a priority by everyone who has responsibilities for promoting their welfare;
  • Report regularly on the attainment of looked-after children through the authority's corporate parenting structures;
  • Promote the educational achievement of previously looked-after children in their area by providing information and advice to:
    1. Any person who has parental responsibility for the child;
    2. Providers of funded early years education, designated teachers for previously looked-after children in maintained schools and academies; and
    3. Any other person the authority considers appropriate for promoting the educational achievement of relevant children.

Social workers, Virtual School Heads and Independent Reviewing Officers (IROs), school admission officers and Special Educational Needs departments should work together to ensure that - except in an emergency - appropriate education provision for a child is arranged at the same time as a care placement.

School governing bodies should ensure that appropriate staff have the information they need in relation to a child's looked-after legal status (whether they are looked-after under voluntary arrangements with consent of parents or on an interim or full Care Order), and contact arrangements with birth parents or those with Parental Responsibility. They should also have information about the child's care arrangements and the levels of authority delegated to the carer. The designated safeguarding lead, through the Designated Teacher for looked-after children and previously looked-after children, should have details of the child's social worker and the name of the Virtual School Head.

The Virtual School Head is integral to ensuring that local authorities discharge their duty to provide suitable advice and information for the purpose of promoting the educational achievement of previously looked-after children. They can also undertake any activity they consider appropriate where that activity will promote the educational achievement of such children in their area. The VSH should promote a culture that takes account of the child's views according to age and understanding in identifying and meeting their educational needs.


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 before 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 and all subsequent LAC reviews.

The Designated Teacher in schools leads on how the PEP is developed and used in school to make sure the child’s progress towards education targets is monitored.

All of those involved in the PEP process at all stages should involve the child (according to understanding and ability) and, where appropriate, the child’s parent and/or relevant family member.

The PEP is an evolving record, and arrangements for the flow of information to develop, review and update the PEP should be in place to ensure the VSH, Designated Teacher, carer and, where appropriate, child and parent have a copy of the latest version of the document. Virtual School Heads should make arrangements for PEPs to be reviewed each school term.

PEPs should:

  • Identify developmental and educational needs in relation to skills, knowledge subject areas and experiences;
  • Set short and long-term educational attainment targets agreed in partnership with the child and the carer where appropriate;
  • Include a record of planned actions, including milestones on homework, extra tuition and study support, that the school and others will take to promote the educational achievement of the child, based on an assessment of their educational needs;
  • Include information on how the child’s progress is to be rigorously monitored;
  • Record details of specific interventions and targeted support that will be used to make sure targets are met, especially at the end of Key Stage 2 in relation to English and mathematics, and at Key Stage 4 in achieving success in public examinations;
  • Say what will happen, or is already happening, to put in place any additional support which may be required - e.g. possible action to support special educational needs involving the SENCO, educational psychologist, or local authority education services (information contained within a EHC plan does not have to be duplicated in the PEP, a reference is sufficient as long as the plans work together to meet overall needs);
  • Set out information on what will happen or is already happening to identify and support any mental health needs relevant to the child’s education;
  • Set out how a child’s aspiration and self-confidence is being nurtured, especially in consideration of longer-term goals towards further and higher education, work experience and career plans. Discussions about longer-term goals should start early and ideally well before Year 9 (age 13-14) at school. High aspirations are crucial to successful planning for the future. They should focus on young person’s strengths and capabilities and the outcomes they want to achieve;
  • Include the child’s views on how they see they have progressed and what support they consider to be most effective;
  • Be a record of the child’s academic achievements and participation in the wider activities of the school and other out of school learning activities (e.g. sporting, personal development);
  • Provide information which helps all who are supporting the child’s educational achievement to understand what works for them, helping to substitute for the role that parents might otherwise provide; and
  • Have clear accountability in terms of who within the school is responsible for making the actions identified in the plan happen.

The Designated Teacher, who would normally have overall responsibility for leading the process of target setting for looked-after children in school, should monitor and track how their attainment progresses, and ensure that identified actions are put in place. The Designated Teacher will help the school and the local authority that looks after the child to decide what arrangements work best in the development and review of the PEP.

In addition, the PEP should have:

  • An up to date and accurate chronology of education and training history which provides a record of the child's educational experience and progress in terms of National Curriculum Assessments, including information about educational institutions attended and the reasons for leaving, attendance and conduct record, academic and other achievements, any special educational needs, an indication of the extent to which the child's education has been disrupted before entering care or accommodation;
  • A clear statement clarifying existing arrangements for education and training, including details of any special educational provision and any other provision to meet the child's educational or training needs and promote educational achievement;
  • A description of any planned changes to existing arrangements and provision to minimise disruption;
  • A description of the child's interests and aspirations;
  • A description of the role of the appropriate person and any other person who cares for the child in promoting the child's educational achievements;
  • A description of how the Pupil Premium Plus is assisting the child’s progress must be discussed as part of PEP meetings;
  • Details of who will take the plan forward, with timescales for action and review are an essential aspect of all PEP planning.

Monitoring and Reviewing the PEP in School

Designated Teachers should work closely with other staff in school to make sure the child's progress is rigorously monitored and evaluated. They should be able to:

  • Judge whether the teaching and learning and intervention strategies being used are working to support achievement and wellbeing; and
  • Know whether the young person is likely to meet the attainment targets in their PEP.

If the child is not on track to meet targets, the Designated Teacher should be instrumental in agreeing the best way forward with them in order to make progress and ensure that this is reflected in the PEP.

A child's care plan is reviewed regularly by the authority that looks after them, the first being within 20 working days of being coming into care. The IRO will ask about the child's educational progress as part of the overall care plan review and should have access to the most up-to-date PEP. So that there can be an informed discussion at the statutory review of the care plan about the child's progress in school, the designated teacher is responsible for ensuring that:

  • They review the PEP before the statutory review of the care plan, it is up-to-date and contains any new information since the last PEP review, including whether agreed provision is being delivered;
  • The PEP is clear about what has or has not been taken forward, noting what resources may be required to further support the child and from where these may be sourced.


3. Avoidance of Disruption in Education

The VSH should approve of any change of placement affecting a looked-after child. Any child in Key Stage 4, 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, must have approval from the VSH.

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

  • 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.


4. When a Child First becomes Looked-After

Notification

As soon as a child becomes looked-after (if not before), the child's social worker must notify the VSH where the child is placed.

If the child is known to have an Education, Health and Care Plan or to be under assessment, the social worker or VSH should ensure the relevant SEN officer is informed.

The child's social worker or VSH must also inform the Designated Teacher at the child's school within 48 hours of the child becoming looked-after and a Personal Education Plan meeting arranged. Regular liaison should then be maintained.

Pupil Premium Plus Funding

All looked-after and previously looked-after children are eligible for Pupil Premium Plus funding. This is additional funding provided to help improve the attainment of looked-after and previously looked-after children and close the attainment gap between this group and their peers. It is not a personal budget for individual children. The extra funding provided by the Pupil Premium Plus reflects the significant additional barriers faced by looked-after and previously looked-after children. The Designated Teacher has an important role in ensuring the specific needs of looked-after and previously looked-after children are understood by the school’s staff and reflected in how the school uses PP+ to support these children.

The Pupil Premium Plus for looked-after children is managed by the VSH and comes directly into Local Authority as a yearly grant. The Pupil Premium Plus for previously looked-after children is managed by the school and is allocated to school depending on their funding arrangements.

The Pupil Premium Plus is a key component in ensuring resources are available to support the child’s Personal Education Plan and the plan should clarify what the support is and how it will be delivered.


5. When a Child Moves to a New Local Authority

If a child is placed in the area of a different local authority but continues to attend the same school as before, the procedure is outlined the section on Personal Education Plans. If the child is to be placed in the area of a different local authority and will need a new school, efforts to obtain a school place should (unless it is an emergency placement) begin well before s/he moves to a new placement. The VSH and, if appropriate, the SEN officer, should be provided with a full educational history and asked to assist in the search for a school place.

Whenever possible a child should not be moved to a new placement until s/he also has a school place.

Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans

Where a child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (previously a statement of Special Educational Needs), the Plan must be transferred to local authority where they reside. Please refer to Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years: Statutory Guidance for further information.


6. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School

The choice of school requires skilled working between relevant people. It should be based on a discussion between the VSH, child's social worker, their carers and, if appropriate, birth parents. Looked-after and previously looked-after children have the highest priority within school admission arrangements. VSHs, working with education settings, should implement Pupil Premium Plus arrangements for looked-after children.

Schools judged by Ofsted to be 'good' or 'outstanding' should be prioritised for looked-after and previously looked-after children in need of a new school. Unless there are exceptional evidence-based reasons, looked-after children should never be placed in a school judged by Ofsted to be 'inadequate'.

The child’s wishes and feelings should be taken into account and the suitability of the education setting tested by arranging an informal visit with the child.

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. School details will need to be amended on the electronic record.

Notification

At least one member of staff in the school - the Designated Teacher or the Head Teacher - must be informed by the social worker within 48 hours 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.

Pupils with 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 and VSH should ensure that he/she is aware of the current position with regard to the Plan, including any additional support provided and by whom.

The First PEP in a New School

A new or updated PEP should be in place within the first 20 days of a child joining a new school. Looked-after children must have their PEP updated termly.

The first PEP in a new school should:

  • Identify the child’s immediate and priority needs (e.g. English as an additional language, literacy support, behaviour management, mental health issues);
  • Establish contact between residential staff / carer, school staff and social worker - the basis of a working partnership;
  • Identify a named person for the day to day management of the PEP and agree who contacts whom about what;
  • Establish boundaries of confidentiality;
  • Share important information - perhaps including the Placement Information Record;
  • Clarify how the Pupil Premium Plus will be used to support the child;
  • Ensure records are forwarded from the previous school and/or carer;
  • Agree a date for the next PEP review meeting and how and when the next full PEP is going to be drawn up (this needs to take account of the looked-after review cycle because the PEP has to be ready before or at the Review; but also term dates, parents’ evenings, school target setting days, reviews of the SEN Support Plans, annual reviews of Education, Health and Care Plans etc.).
The completed PEP should be distributed by the social worker to those invited to the meeting and the child's Independent Reviewing Officer.


7. When a Child has no School Place

Finding a school place is the VSH’s and social worker's responsibility. The VSH will seek to provide interim support or provision until a permanent school place is secured. Children without a school place should still have an up-to-date PEP. It should address the child's immediate educational needs and the longer-term planning.

Where the child does not have a school place because one cannot be found, or the child has been placed at very short notice, the child’s social worker and/or VSH should notify the education service in the area where the child is placed and request that a school be identified for the child as soon as possible. The assistance of the local education service (and the local SEN officer if appropriate) should also be sought. Unless section Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans applies, the education service local to the placement should identify a school place within 20 working days at the latest; and should be asked to provide alternative education if a school place cannot be found immediately or is not appropriate.

Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans

Applications for school places for pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan should be made through the Special Educational Needs Department of the local education service maintaining the plan, usually the local authority where the child resides. This needs to be planned for as early as possible as it can cause long delays.


8. Safeguarding the Looked-After Child at School

All staff in the school should be aware of the systems in the school that support safeguarding. These systems should be explained to them as part of induction and there should be regular update training for all staff. This should include:

  • The 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.

All staff must report any concerns regarding Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Child Protection Policy and Procedures

Following induction, all staff should have read the child protection policy and have an awareness of safeguarding issues and be clear about how to report concerns and who they should report to. Staff should be aware that behaviours linked to issues such as drug taking, alcohol abuse, deliberately missing education and sexting put children in danger.

All children should feel and be safe in the school they attend. Looked-after children and previously looked-after children are a vulnerable group. 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.

Data Protection and Safeguarding

NOTE: Information does not refer simply to written or electronically stored records. It also refers to other kinds of information such as biometric data (for example, use of finger prints to receive school dinners or to enter buildings).

GDPR does not prevent, or limit, the sharing of information for the purposes of keeping children safe. Lawful and secure information sharing between schools, Children's Social Care, and other local agencies, is essential for keeping children safe and ensuring they get the support they need.

When Designated Safeguarding Leads in schools are considering whether, or not, to share safeguarding information (especially with other agencies) it is considered best practice for them to record who they are sharing that information with and for what reason. If they have taken a decision not to seek consent from the data subject and/or parent / carer that should also be recorded within the safeguarding file.

All relevant information can be shared without consent if to gain consent would place a child at risk. Fears about sharing information must not be allowed to stand in the way of promoting the welfare and protecting the safety of children. As with all data sharing, appropriate organisational and technical safeguards should still be in place.

Protecting looked-after Children from Adults that may Pose a Risk to them and/or Other Children in the School

It is essential that social workers, carers and school staff, particularly the designated safeguarding lead, have absolute clarity with regard to who is and is not allowed to have access to any looked-after child.

Any suspicion regarding any adult seeking contact with the child, either in person or through social media, during school hours should be reported to the designated lead immediately.

Any member of staff who has concerns about anyone working within the school (staff, volunteers) or undertaking work on or near school premises (contractors, advisors, catering and so forth) must inform a senior member of staff immediately.

The child's social worker must then be informed and child protection procedures then followed. Staff will also need to be aware of issues such as forced marriage and FGM that may have led to some children becoming looked-after.

Protecting Looked-After Children from Peer on Peer Abuse

All staff should be aware that safeguarding issues can manifest themselves via peer on peer abuse. This can include (but is not limited to) bullying (including cyberbullying); sexual violence and sexual harassment; physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, shaking, biting, hair pulling, or otherwise causing physical harm; sexting and initiating / hazing type violence and rituals. Staff should be clear as to the school or college's policy and procedures with regards to peer on peer abuse.

Looked-after and previously looked-after children can be particularly vulnerable to individual or group bullying either in person or through social media where they can be subject to verbal and physical violence and/or sexual violence and harassment.

Girls are at significantly greater risk of sexual harassment and assault than boys. Schools and colleges should ensure that their response to sexual violence and sexual harassment between children of the same identified gender is equally robust as it is for sexual violence and sexual harassment between children of different identified genders.

Schools must have procedures in place to protect all children, but particularly vulnerable groups of children such as looked-after children and previously looked-after children from unwanted and damaging interactions with their peers. It is important, as well, to be aware that looked-after and previously looked-after children may be the perpetrators of abuse. In this case the school or college will have a difficult balancing act to consider. On the one hand to safeguard the victim (and the wider student body) and on the other hand providing the alleged perpetrator with an education, safeguarding support as appropriate and implementing any disciplinary sanctions.

Assisting Looked-After Children to Reduce Risk Taking Behaviour

There is a whole range of risk taking behaviours that looked-after and previously looked-after children could be involved in ranging from gang based activities to drug and alcohol abuse and/or radicalisation.

A child going missing from education is a potential indicator of abuse or neglect and such children are at risk of being victims of harm, exploitation or radicalisation.

School and college staff should follow their procedures for unauthorised absence and for dealing with children that go missing from education, particularly on repeat occasions, to help identify the risk of abuse and neglect, including sexual or criminal exploitation, and to help prevent the risks of going missing in future. It is essential that all staff are alert to signs to look out for and the individual triggers to be aware of when considering the risks of potential safeguarding concerns such as travelling to conflict zones, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.

Further information about children at risk of missing education can be found in Children Missing Education - Statutory guidance for local authorities.

Where necessary, the Children Missing from Care Procedure must be followed - see London Child Protection Procedures and Practice Guidance Procedures, Children Missing from Care, Home and Education.


9. Recording 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. A looked-after child’s educational attainments at Early Years, Key Stages 1,2,3 and 4 and post 16 should be recorded, including on the child’s electronic record and in the PEP.


10. When a Child is Absent from School

The residential staff / 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 10 days, the social worker and VSH 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.


11. School Exclusions

Where a school has concerns about a looked-after child’s and previously looked-after child’s behaviour, the VSH must 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.

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

Fixed Term Exclusions

Looked-after and previously looked-after children have disproportionately high rates of exclusion and are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of exclusions. Head Teachers should, as far as possible, avoid excluding looked-after and previously looked-after children. Exclusion from school should be a last resort for looked-after or previously looked-after children, 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 must provide work for the child for the first five days of the exclusion. The social worker must liaise with the residential staff / carers 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 must provide a place for the child to be educated.

The school must communicate the reasons for the exclusion to the VSH, residential staff / carer 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 VSH and social worker, in consultation with the child and parents, must seek advice as to whether to appeal against the decision to exclude the child.

If the child receives a fixed term exclusion, the VSH and social worker must ensure a reintegration meeting is held within the five days to discuss his/her return and how best this can be supported.

Permanent Exclusions

When a child is permanently excluded but is remaining in the same foster or residential placement, the social worker and/or VSH must 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 must provide work and the child should not be out unaccompanied in public during school hours. From the sixth day the local authority where the child resides must 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 VSH, social workers or foster carer or anyone who has Parental Responsibility for the child.

For further information, please see Exclusion from Maintained Schools, Academies and Pupil Referral Units in England: A Guide for those with Legal Responsibilities in Relation to Exclusion.


12. When a Young Woman becomes Pregnant

Becoming pregnant is not in itself a reason to stop attending school, nor to cease education. Where a young woman becomes pregnant, the social worker must ensure that the young woman remains in education if at all possible and arrange for her to receive support from the education authority for the area in which she lives and/or the school she attends.


13. School Transport

In order to maintain continuity of school, those with responsibility for school transport should be approached to provide assistance 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.


14. Children 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 (2015): Statutory Guidance for Governing Bodies of Maintained Schools and Proprietors of Academies in England (DfE).


15. Mental Health

Looked-after and previously looked-after children are more likely to experience the challenge of social, emotional and mental health issues than their peers. For example, they may struggle with executive functioning skills, forming trusting relationships, social skills, managing strong feelings (e.g. shame, sadness, anxiety and anger), sensory processing difficulties, foetal alcohol syndrome and coping with transitions and change. This can impact on their behaviour and education.

Designated Teachers are not expected to be mental health experts; however, they have an important role in ensuring they and other school staff can identify signs of potential issues and understand where the school can draw on specialist services, such as CAMHS and educational psychologists. In addition, many schools have an officer responsible for making links with mental health services, with whom designated teachers can work closely. Where such an officer is available, Designated Teachers should work with them, and the VSH to ensure that they, and other school staff, have the skills to:

  • Identify signs of potential mental health issues, and know how to access further assessment and support where necessary, making full use of the SENCO and local authority support team where applicable; and
  • Understand the impact trauma, attachment disorder and other mental health issues can have on looked-after and previously looked-after children and their ability to engage in learning. It is also important that the Designated Teacher and other school staff are aware that these issues will continue to affect previously looked-after children, and that the school will need to continue to respond appropriately to their needs.


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

The VSH must ensure that there are appropriate arrangements in place to meet the training needs of those responsible for promoting the educational achievement of looked-after and previously looked-after children. This includes carers, social workers, Designated Teachers and IROs.

Such training, among other things, should include information about school admission arrangements; Special Educational Needs; attendance and exclusions; homework; choosing GCSE options; managing any challenging behaviour in relation to education settings; promoting positive educational and recreational activities and supporting children to be aspirational for their future education; training and employment, and the importance of listening to and taking account of the child’s wishes and feelings about education and the PEP process.

The VSH should ensure that school governing bodies understand the importance of specific professional development for, as a minimum, their senior leaders and Designated Teachers in supporting the achievement of looked-after and previously looked-after children.


17. Information Sharing

VSHs should have access to a secure email account that enables them to exchange information securely with other VSHs in whose area they have placed children.

Arrangements for sharing reliable data must be in place, particularly in relation to the tracking and monitoring of attainment data and notifications of where children, including those placed out-of-authority, are being educated, and must set out:

  • Who has access to what information and how the security of data will be ensured;
  • How children and parents are informed of, and allowed to challenge, information that is kept about them;
  • How carers contribute to and receive information;
  • Mechanisms for sharing information between relevant local authority departments and schools;
  • How relevant information about individual children is passed promptly between authorities, departments and schools when young people move. Relevant information includes the PEP, which as part of the looked-after child’s educational record should be transferred with them to the new school.

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