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7.4.3 Education of Looked After Children

RELATED GUIDANCE

Looked After Children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) this guidance explains the respective roles of the home Authority and the Authority where the child lives when these are different.

Promoting the Educational Achievement of Looked After Children.

Mental Health Behaviour in Schools Guidance (DfE 2016).

RELATED CHAPTERS

The Virtual School for Children in Care

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

This chapter was updated in December 2016 when a link to Mental Health Behaviour in Schools Guidance (DfE 2016) was added.


Contents

  1. The Personal Education Plan (PEP)
  2. Avoidance of Disruption in Education
  3. When a Child First becomes Looked After
  4. When a Child Moves to a New Local Authority 
  5. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School 
  6. When a Child has No School Place 
  7. Celebrating a Child's Achievements
  8. Reviewing and Updating PEP's
  9. When a Child is Absent from School 
  10. School Exclusions 
  11. When a Young Woman becomes Pregnant
  12. School Transport 


1. The Personal Education Plan (PEP)

The Personal Education Plan (PEP) allows the social worker, residential staff/carer and Designated Teacher at the child's school or, where the child has no school place, the education service, in conjunction with the child, to set out what needs to happen to meet the educational needs of the child.

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.

All looked after children of compulsory school age must have a PEP, whether or not currently in education. It provides essential information to ensure that appropriate support is in place to enable the child to achieve the targets set. It is also a record of the child's leisure interests and educational achievement.

The PEP should set clear objectives and targets for the child, covering the following:
  • Chronology of education and training history which provides a record of the child's educational experience and progress in terms of National Curriculum levels of attainment, 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;
  • 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;
  • Any planned changes to existing arrangements and provision to minimise disruption;
  • The child's leisure interests;
  • Role of the appropriate person and any other person who cares for the child in promoting the child's educational achievements and leisure interests;
  • The effective use of the Pupil Premium and application for bursary should be discussed as part of PEP Meetings.

2. Avoidance of Disruption in Education

The Nominated Officer must approve of any change of placement affecting a 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.

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;
  • The Head of the Virtual School has been consulted.
Other than in Key Stage 4, where the Local Authority proposes making any change to the child's placement that would have the effect of disrupting the arrangements made for education and training, they must ensure that other arrangements are made for education or training that meet the child's needs and are consistent with the PEP.


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 education service where the child is placed.

If the child is known to have a Statement of Special Educational Needs 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.

3.2 The First Personal Education Plan

The first PEP should be in place as part of a Care Plan within 10 days of a child becoming Looked After.

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, the relevant education officer should be invited and asked to assist in the search for a school place. The SEN adviser should also be asked to assist as appropriate. 

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;
  • 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 Individual Education 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;
  • 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 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.

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


4. 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 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 s/he moves to a new placement. The relevant Education Officer 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.

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

The local education service where the child lives (unless in residential accommodation) is responsible for the placement and provision of education to a pupil who has a statement of special educational needs. The education service for the area to which the child is moving should therefore be requested to adopt the statement, which will need to be amended.

This needs to be planned as early as possible as it can cause long delays.


5. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School

Choosing and applying to 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 - see Section 2, Avoidance of Disruption in Education above.

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

5.1 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.

5.2 Pupils with Educational, Health and Care Plans

A change of school at any time needs the agreement of the relevant local education service maintaining the statement. 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.

5.3 The First PEP in a new school

A meeting should be held at the new school as soon as practicable.

A new or updated PEP should be in place within the first 20 days of a child joining a new school. Subsequent PEP’s should correspond with the Looked After Review cycle.

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);
  • 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;
  • 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, Individual Education Plan reviews, annual reviews of Education, Health and Care Plans etc.).

The completed PEP should be distributed to those invited to the meeting and the child's Independent Reviewing Officer.


6. 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 others.

6.1 PEP’s

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.

6.2 Children Placed within the local authority area

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 education service (and the SEN adviser, in appropriate cases). The local education service 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.

6.3 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 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 adviser if appropriate) should also be sought. 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.

6.4 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 statement, not directly. It requires the agreement of the education service for the statement to be amended. This needs to be planned for as early as possible as it can cause long delays. 

Responsibility for updating the Statement will rest with the receiving authority where the child’s school is in the state sector. Where the child’s is placed in a school outside the state sector, the education service in the placing authority will retain responsibility for updating the statement.


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


8. Reviewing and Updating PEP’s

The child’s social worker must ensure PEP review meeting take place on time.

Second and subsequent PEP’s 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.

8.1 PEP Decisions

The participants should agree what action they will each undertake to achieve the improvements in the child’s education that they have identified through the consultation/preparation process.

8.2 PEP Recommendations

Proposals that would lead to significant changes in arrangements (e.g. a change of school, a request for a statutory assessment of a child’s special educational needs) and/or to increases in expenditure (private tuition, a jointly-funded placement) should be made in the form of recommendations to the Looked After Review.


9. 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 s/he has missed.

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


10. School Exclusions

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

10.1 Fixed term exclusions

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 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 school will communicate the reasons for the exclusion to the 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 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.

10.2 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 should not be out unaccompanied 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.


11. 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. 


12. 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.

End