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3.6.1 Education of Children Looked After

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter applies to all Children Looked After.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Promoting the Education of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children (DfE)

Guidance on Designated Teacher for Looked After and Previously Looked After Children (DfE)

Keeping Children Safe in Education (DfE) (All staff in a school or college should read Part One of the guidance)

Sexting: how to respond to an incident (UK Council for Child Internet Safety)

Data protection: a toolkit for schools (DfE)
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 UK GDPR does not prevent, or limit, the sharing of information for the purposes of keeping children safe.

Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges (DfE)

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

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 (DfE/DHSC)

Regulated activity in relation to children: scope

School Admissions Code

LOCAL GUIDANCE

Mindmate Website: a website for young people, their families and the professionals who support them. Information on the site can help users explore emotional wellbeing and mental health issues, as well as offering information about where support is available.

Future in Mind Leeds 2021-2026: A Strategy to Improve the Social, Emotional, Mental Health and Wellbeing of Children and Young People aged 0-25 years

RELATED CHAPTER

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


Contents

  1. The Personal Education Plan (PEP) for Children Looked After
  2. When a Child First becomes Looked After
  3. When a Child Moves to a New Local Authority 
  4. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School 
  5. When a Child Has no School Place 
  6. Safeguarding Children Looked After at School
  7. Celebrating a Child's Achievements
  8. When a Child is Absent from School 
  9. School Exclusions 
  10. When a Young Woman becomes Pregnant
  11. School Transport 
  12. Children and Young People with Medical Conditions
  13. Training for those Involved in the Care and Education of Children Looked After
  14. Mental Health
  15. 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. The Personal Education Plan (PEP) for Children Looked After

1.1 What is a personal education plan, who needs one and why?

A Personal Education Plan (PEP) is an integral part of the care plan for a Child Looked After, and is a statutory requirement for every child/young person in our care from the age of 3 to 18. The early life experiences that bring children into care can often have a lasting impact on learning outcomes through their early years, school and beyond, impacting on their employment opportunities, financial security and health outcomes. When children come into our care, we Promise to have the highest ambitions and aspirations for them, to support them achieve their potential and plan for their future: the PEP is the tool we use to bring all those people together who can play a part in delivering on that promise.

1.2 Attending, Attaining and Achieving – The 3 A’s Strategy

Leeds is a city that is ambitious for all children and young people which is why their learning and educational outcomes are so important. For all children and young people, including those who are in our care, there is a citywide focus on their attendance, attainment and achievement. That means; engaging with an early years provider, school or post-16 provider from the age of 3 to 18 (attendance); making expected or better than expected progress in learning at whatever age and stage they are in (attainment); and benefiting from all the wealth of experiences in the arts, culture, sports and leisure that a city like Leeds can offer and that children and young people can experience opportunities to enjoy, participate and feel connected in the city where they live (achievement).

1.3 The Promise and Corporate Parenting

The PEP should be underpinned by the Promise we make to all the children and young people when they come into our care and helps us express our corporate parenting responsibilities to be ambitious and have the highest aspirations, just as any parent would for their child. The PEP brings together all the professionals and adults who can support a young person overcome any barriers to their learning so they can make progress, achieve and attain at every stage of their learning journey and is a statutory requirement from the ages of 3 to 18.

The Promise to involve children in all decisions about their lives includes the planning around their learning and education and so the voice of the young person needs to be a cornerstone of their PEP.

The PEP is also an opportunity to demonstrate the Promise to celebrate the achievements of children in care, whether they be at school or at home.

It is an evolving record of what needs to happen for looked-after children to enable them to make expected or better than expected progress and fulfil their potential. The PEP should reflect the importance of a personalised approach to learning that meets the child’s identified educational needs, raises aspirations and builds life chances and so is not only relevant to a child’s years of compulsory schooling.

The school or education setting (nursery, school, college, apprenticeship training provider), the social worker, other professionals, birth parent or family where appropriate, the child’s carers and the young person should use the PEP to support achieving those things. The PEP should be shared when working with any other professional teams or services who might be supporting the child in learning e.g. educational psychology, SENSAP (statutory assessment service for children with identified SEND), therapeutic social work etc and those services, in turn, should support the development of and quality of the plans and be key contributors to enable young people to achieve their targets, goals and outcomes.

It is also important to remember that when those young people leave care they might want to read the records of their care experience and their PEPs will be a record of their learning journey and evidence of how the adults around them were ambitious for them, championed their progress, attainment and achievements throughout their lives and kept the Promise to have the highest aspirations for them.

1.4 What does a PEP have to capture and why?

A good PEP is an enduring, evolving record of what needs to happen in order for a child to achieve their potential at every stage of their learning journey. For Children Looked After, it is important to understand they may not be making the same age related/chronological progress as their non-looked after peers. A holistic view of their needs might incorporate communication and interaction, physical/sensory needs, social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH) to ensure they are growing their emotional resilience as well as cognition and learning.

The process of learning is not limited to the acquisition of qualifications or securing a job: our hope is that our young people become lifelong learners, always able to find opportunities for personal growth, development and self-expression.

Children in care in the early years are more likely to arrive at their first experience of school with poor language and literacy skills and a lack of life experiences. The PEP should identify these needs and how carers and/or an early years setting can provide intervention/support to meet these needs and help children be “ready for school”. Speech and language, bodily regulation and sensory processing are all areas of development that might have been compromised by a child’s experiences and without significant support, this gap can remain and widen as children move through foundation/reception, into primary school and throughout their ‘formal’ schooling and beyond.

For young people aged 16 and 17, the PEP should be seeking to prepare them for adulthood, supporting their future education, employment, training and career ambitions and opportunities and this is equally important for young people who might continue to experience difficulties with their mental health as for those who are high fliers intending to go to university: it should evidence how young people will be supported to move from “NEET” (not in education, employment and training) to “EET” (in education, employment and training) as well as how mentoring and work experience to secure top employment opportunities facilitated by their corporate parenting “family” might be put in place.

1.5 Features of Good Plans

The details below have drawn from statutory guidance, consultation and research. Good and effective plans would include;

  • The child’s current attainment and progress in relation to age related expectations, statutory test outcomes, in-year teacher assessments, qualifications and awards etc and identified developmental and educational needs that might be barriers to making accelerated progress and interventions that can be effective to help overcome those barriers;
  • An holistic understanding of the child’s needs in relation to not only cognition and learning but communication and interaction, social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) and physical and sensory;
  • High quality early years provision that is appropriate to the child’s age e.g. pre-school playgroups and meets their identified developmental needs (that might include training for foster carers to meet those needs so children are more “ready for school”;
  • Interventions that support the child make at least expected if not better than expected progress for the relevant national curriculum key stage, and to complete an appropriate range of approved qualifications;
  • Support needed to help the child realise their short and long-term academic achievements and aspirations;
  • Details of the provision of suitable education to be made immediately where a child is not in school (e.g. because of fixed term or permanent exclusion, because of an emergency/unplanned change in care placement);
  • The transition support needed when a child starts attending a new school or returns to school e.g. moving from pre-school/ early years to primary school, primary to secondary school, from secondary school to further education, or following illness or exclusion or when a child has a plan for permanence (e.g. placed for adoption) and may change schools as part of that plan;
  • Good attendance and access to a full-time place/curriculum;
  • * identification, assessment and understanding of their social, emotional and mental health needs (SEMH) needs so that support and/or provision can help avoid responses to “behaviour” such as exclusion that has been agreed with the Virtual School e.g. effective graduated response, nurture provision, adaptations and adjustments to behaviour policies etc;
  • Details of any support that is required or ongoing from services that can support mental health and well-being from universal to specialist (e.g. trauma/attachment awareness or emotion coaching in schools, Mindmate in schools, therapeutic social work service, CAHMS etc);
  • Careers advice and guidance and financial information about further and higher education, training and employment;
  • Planning for longer term goals should start early and, ideally, well before Year 9 (age 13-14) and should focus on the child or young person’s strengths and capabilities and the outcomes they want to achieve;
  • Their achievements in the widest sense such as out-of-school hours learning activities, study support, leisure interests, participation, enrichment and cultural activities;
  • Support needed to help the child realise their short and long-term academic achievements and aspirations;
  • The child’s thoughts, views and feelings, gathered in the most effective way for their age, stage and needs to facilitate participation in the plan and how they see they have progressed and what help and support they consider to be most effective;
  • Include specific, significant, stretching, measurable, meaningful, motivational, agreed, achievable, action-orientated, realistic, relevant, result-orientated, timebound (SMART) short-term targets, including progress monitoring of each of the areas identified against development and educational needs;
  • Incorporate other targets and goals that might be linked from other services/interventions so that PEPs do not sit in isolation;
  • Include SMART longer-term aspirations, ambitions and plans to achieve these at an age and stage appropriate level such as pathways to further/higher education, work experience, apprenticeships, preparing to leave care and planning for independence/adulthood;
  • Be linked to, but not duplicate or conflict with, information in any other plans held by the child’s education setting or responsible authority – e.g. their care plan or Education, Health and Care Plan, pathway plan;
  • Identify actions, with time scales, for specific individuals intended to support the achievement of agreed targets and use of any additional resources (e.g. the pupil premium plus, external agencies) specifically designated to support the attainment of looked-after children;
  • Highlight access to effective intervention strategies and how this will make/has made a difference to achievement levels;
  • Include the views of birth parents and/or family members where this is appropriate.

1.6 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 young person 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 Accommodated. 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 (see Looked After Reviews Procedure).

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; and
  • They pass the updated PEP to the child's social worker and VSH ahead of the statutory review of the Care Plan.

The school and the local authority which looks after the child have a shared responsibility for helping Children Looked After to achieve and enjoy. The content, implementation and review of the PEP enable both the school and local authority to discuss how they can help achieve this. The PEP review should be done through a meeting involving the social worker, the young person, carers and others, such as the VSH.

The PEP must include the contact details of the Virtual School Head for the authority that looks after the child.


2. When a Child First becomes Looked After

2.1 Notification

As soon as a child becomes looked after (if not before), the child's social worker must notify the education service 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 should ensure the relevant SEN adviser is informed.

The child’s social worker 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.

2.2 Pupil Premium Plus Funding

Looked After and Previously Looked After Children are eligible for PP+ 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 PP+ 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 Children 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 PP+ for Children Looked After is managed by the VSH. However the PP+ for Previously Looked After Children is managed by the school.

The PP+ 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.

2.3 The First Personal Education Plan or the First Personal Education Plan in a New School

The first PEP should be in place within the first 10 working days of a child becoming Looked After.

Associated PEP forms can be found in the Resources and Forms Library.

The child's social worker should arrange a meeting to draw up the first PEP which should include the Designated Teacher at the school (where the child has a school place), the residential staff/carer and any other relevant professionals; and should involve the child and parents as far as is appropriate and possible.

Where the child is excluded from school, the Head Teacher should be invited.

Where the child has no school place, a member of the Leeds Virtual School should be contacted and asked to assist in the search for a school place.

The first PEP should:

  • Identify the educational and social factors that may have caused or may cause in the future a detrimental effect on the child’s educational achievement (e.g. English as an additional language, literacy support, behaviour management, mental health issues;
  • Identify the support required to reduce the impact of these factors;
  • Identify the child’s immediate and priority needs and targets, (e.g. to maintain the current school place, make transport arrangements, find a new school, obtain short-term interim education);
  • Incorporate any SEN Support Plan or other school-based plan;
  • Identify a named person for the day to day management of the PEP and establish lines of communication between the staff/carer, school/education staff and social worker - the basis of a working partnership;
  • Establish boundaries of confidentiality;
  • Establish contact between residential staff/carer, school staff and social worker - the basis of a working partnership;
  • Share important information - perhaps including the Placement Information Record;
  • Clarify how PP+ 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.

The completed PEP should be distributed immediately after the meeting to the child, parents, staff/carers and all others invited to the meeting. A copy should also be sent to the child's Independent Reviewing Officer.

N.B. The provision of education for pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans can only be changed if the child’s plan has been amended at an annual review.


3. 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 outlined in Section 3.2, The First Personal Education Plan or the First Personal Education Plan in a New School applies.

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 they move to a new placement. The relevant Education Officer in the receiving local Authority and, if appropriate, the SEN adviser, should be provided with a full educational history and asked to assist in the search for a school place. The Leeds Virtual School should also be informed of the plan to place a child in a school outside Leeds.

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

Where the child does not have a school place - see Section 6, When a Child has no 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 – see the Children and Young People Aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Procedure.


4. 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 child’s social worker, their carers and, if appropriate, birth parents. The VSH should normally be consulted to avoid choosing a school that is unlikely to meet the child’s needs. Children Looked After and Previously Looked After Children have been given the highest priority within school admission arrangements. VSHs, working with education settings, should implement pupil premium arrangements for Children Looked After.

See: School Admissions Code. From 1 September 2021, the Code provides that children being raised by family and friends carers under a Special Guardianship Order or Child Arrangements Order, who struggle to get a school place during the year, will be supported in finding one.

Schools judged by Ofsted to be ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ should be prioritised for Children Looked After and Previously Looked After Children in need of a new school. Unless there are exceptional evidence-based reasons, Children Looked After 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. (Note: for those children who have been Previously Looked After, the parents or those who have Parental Responsibility should receive information and advice regarding this, as they will make the decision as to which school the child will attend).

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 or 11.

School details should be amended on Mosaic as soon as a change is made.

4.1 Notification

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

Where the child is a Previously Looked After Child, sharing of information regarding the child's status is an issue that should be discussed with the parent or person with Parental Responsibility, but impressing upon them the importance of sharing such information where it is assessed the child has educational needs as a result of being Previously Looked After, or where a previous school has supported the child on this basis.

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


5. When a Child has no School Place

Finding a school place is primarily the social worker's responsibility but assistance with this is provided by the LSUS Service.

5.1 PEPs

Children without a school place should still have an up-to-date PEP. It should address immediate the child's educational needs and longer-term planning.

5.2 Children Placed in Leeds

Where the child does not have a school place because one cannot be found, or because mainstream school is not appropriate to his or her needs, the child's social worker should notify and seek assistance from the Leeds Virtual School. The local education service should identify a school place within 20 working days. The cycle of In-Year Fair Access Panels can show the process so no child should cease attending their current school until the new place is agreed.

5.3 Children Placed in a different local authority area

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 should notify the school admissions service in the area where the child is placed and request that a school be identified for the child as soon as possible. The Leeds Virtual School should also be told. Unless Section 6.4, 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.

5.4 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 needs section of the local education service maintaining the plan, not directly. This needs to be planned for as early as possible as it can cause long delays. 

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


6. Safeguarding Children Looked After 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:

  1. The child protection policy and procedures;
  2. The Data Protection Act and safeguarding;
  3. The child behaviour policy;
  4. The staff behaviour policy (code of conduct);
  5. The safeguarding response to children who go missing from education.

All staff must report any concerns regarding Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and should report modern slavery, trafficking or exploitation.

6.1 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 receive training and guidance so they can recognise signs that a child is being drawn into anti-social or criminal behaviour (including gang involvement) and understand how be aware that behaviours linked to issues such as drug taking, alcohol abuse, deliberately missing education and sexting (also known as youth produced sexual imagery) put children in danger. (See also Section 6.4, Protecting Children Looked After from peer on peer abuse and Section 6.5, Serious Violence).

All children should feel and be safe in the school they attend. Children Looked After 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 mental and physical health or development;
  • Ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with safe and effective care;
  • Taking action to enable them to have the best outcomes.

6.2 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).

UK 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.

6.3 Protecting Children Looked After 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 Child Looked After.

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 Safeguarding 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.

6.4 Protecting Children Looked After from peer on peer abuse

For further information, please see: Part 5 of KCSIE - Child on Child Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment.

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;
  • Sexual violence such as rape, assault by penetration and sexual assault;
  • Sexual harassment such as sexual comments, remarks, jokes and online sexual harassment, which may be stand-alone or part of a broader pattern of abuse;
  • Upskirting which typically involves taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks to obtain sexual gratification, or cause the victim humiliation, distress or alarm;
  • Sexting (also know as youth produced sexual imagery); 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 Children Looked After, 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.

6.5 Serious Violence

All staff should be aware of indicators, which may signal that children are at risk from, or are involved with serious violent crime. Indicators may include increased absence from school, a change in friendships or relationships with older individuals or groups, a significant decline in performance, signs of self- harm or a significant change in wellbeing or signs of assault or unexplained injuries. Unexplained gifts or new possessions could also indicate that children have been approached by, or are involved with, individuals associated with sexual exploitation, criminal networks or gangs.

Children Looked After are particularly vulnerable to being targeted by gangs. Carers, social workers and school staff should be proactive and share any concerns at the earliest possible time.

For further information please see

6.6 Assisting Children Looked After 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 the Children Missing Education - Statutory guidance for local authorities.

Where necessary, the Children Missing from Care Procedure must be followed - see the West Yorkshire Joint Protocol for Children Missing from Home or Care.


7. Celebrating 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.

Recording a Child’s Achievements

A Child Looked After's educational attainments at Key Stages 1-3, GCSE, A Level and GNVQ should be recorded in Mosaic and in the PEP.


8. 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 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 they have missed.

If the child is missing from school and/or home, please see: Section 7, Safeguarding Children Looked After at School.


9. School Exclusions

Where a school has concerns about the behaviour of a child who is Looked After or was Previously Looked After, 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.

In these circumstances, where the child is a Previously Looked After Child, the carer with Parental Responsibility should be advised also and the VSH should work with them to consider what additional supports etc. may be needed (as above) and advocate accordingly, but bearing in mind the carer has the main responsibility for overseeing the child's educational progress.

Where a Children Looked After is excluded from school, the child's social worker must inform the child's Independent Reviewing Officer.

9.1 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. Headteachers should, as far as possible, avoid excluding any Child Looked After or Previously Looked After Child. Exclusion from school should be a last resort for and, 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 such a cause for concern arises the first response should be to review the PEP.

Where a school has concerns about the behaviour of a Previously Looked- After Child which could result in the child being excluded from school, the child’s parents or carers should be advised and they, and/or the school’s Designated Teacher, should seek the advice of the VSH on strategies to support the child to avoid exclusion. If the child is a Child in Need (Section 17 Children Act 1989), the social worker should be made aware as soon as possible and, where appropriate, a Child in Need meeting or review convened.

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 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 of the exclusion the school should provide a place for the child to be educated, though this may not be on the school site.

The school will communicate the reasons for the exclusion to the residential staff/carer. Whoever is the most appropriate 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.

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. This is the ideal time to review the provisions in the PEP and ensure appropriate plans are in place to avoid further exclusions.

9.2 Permanent Exclusions

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.

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


10. 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. 


11. 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. Care placement change should not automatically lead to a change of school, particularly in Year 10 or 11 when a change of school place should only take place in extreme circumstances.


12. Children and Young People with Medical Conditions

Since 1 September 2014, governing bodies have had 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: Statutory Guidance for Governing Bodies of Maintained Schools and Proprietors of Academies in England.


13. 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.


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

The VSH should ensure that there are appropriate arrangements in place to meet the training needs of those responsible for promoting the educational achievement of Children 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 Children Looked After and Previously Looked After Children.


15. 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 Child's Looked After educational record should be transferred with them to the new school.

For further information regarding sharing of information, please see: Section 8.2, Data protection and safeguarding.

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