View Cambridgeshire LSCB Manual View Cambridgeshire LSCB Manual

4.6.1 Education of Looked After Children


This chapter applies to all Looked After children (LAC). It should be read in conjunction with the following government guidance documents:

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.

Local Authorities (LA) are required to act under care planning statutory guidance to ensure each child will have a Care Plan which set s out how the LA will meet the care needs of the child. This includes health, education, emotional and behavioural development, identity, family and social relationships, social presentation and self-care skills. The Care Plan will include a Personal Educational Plan (PEP) and a Health Plan. Where a child is being assessed for SEN the information in the Care Plan must be taken into account. SEND professionals must work closely with the other relevant professionals involved in the child’s life.

LAC children identified with SEN will receive SEN Support. This is part of a graduated approach made up of a four stage cycle of Assess, Plan, Do, Review. The child's voice is central to this approach. For more information on SEN Support please see Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 - 25 years Statutory Guidance for Organisations who work with Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (revised January 2015).

Where a child has an Education, Health and Care Plan, this needs to work in harmony with his/her Care Plan. It should add to but not duplicate information about education, health and care needs will be met.

Where a child has SEN and is placed in a different LA to the LA that looks after them, the LA needs to be aware of the placement LA’s Local Offer. Assessments for an EHCP must be carried out by the LA where the child lives (ordinary resident). If a disagreement arises the LA that looks after the child will act as ‘corporate parent’

It is the child’s social worker (in close consultation with the Virtual School Head) who will make any educational decisions on the child's behalf. The day to day responsibility for taking decisions should be delegated to the carer who will be the advocate for the children. Management of Personal Budgets will have careful case by case consideration.

The SEND Code of Practice states that it is important to ensure that the annual review of the EHC plan coincides with one of the child's Care Plan reviews. This could be done as part of a child’s PEP which feeds into the review of the wider Care Plan.

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.


Promoting the Education of Looked After Children (Statutory Guidance, July 2014)

Keeping Children Safe in Education (Statutory Guidance for Schools and Colleges), April 2014


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


The Scope of this Chapter section (see above) was amended in February 2015 and should be re-read in full. Additionally, new Related Guidance has also been added (see above).


  1. Introduction and Overview
  2. Government Guidance
  3. The Virtual School
  4. Where a Child becomes Looked After
  5. LAC Placed in Authority
  6. LAC Placed Out of Authority
  7. LAC and Out of School
  8. LAC that are Disabled
  9. LAC that are Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children
  10. The Personal Education Plan
  11. Initiating and Implementing the PEP
  12. Review of the PEP
  13. Support in Implementing the PEP
  14. When a Child is Absent from School
  15. School Exclusions
  16. Resources
  17. Music Lessons
  18. Over 16 Bursary/College Funding
  19. Higher Education
  20. Activities Carers Should Support
  21. School Reports
  22. Holidays
  23. Computers for LAC

1. Introduction and Overview

This chapter focuses on the support the local authority, as the corporate parent, gives to the children and young people in its care. It seeks to support social workers and teachers in providing not just the baseline to ensure that children and young people achieve this outcome, but in creating aspiration and ambition in the children in its care and amongst those caring for them, as well as a culture of rewarding achievement.

2. Government Guidance

Statistics illustrating the gap between the achievement of looked-after children and their peers and an overview of the PSA and of the government’s strategy to narrow the gap (Narrowing the Gap) (see the C4EO website).

The key components of this strategy are:

  • A virtual school head in every local authority;
  • A designated teacher for looked-after children in all maintained schools;
  • The commitment that all looked-after children at risk of not reaching expected standards of attainment are eligible for a personal education allowance.

The Raising of the Participation Age agenda for all young people in 2013 all young people will be expected to remain in Education or training until the end of the academic year in which they are 17 years old and from 2014 all young people will be expected to remain in education or training until the end the academic year in which they reach 18 years of age. LAC are clearly a very vulnerable group in terms of their likelihood to remain in training or education and extra awareness will be required to ensure that all LAC meet  this requirement and consideration is given to this issue  when identifying care moves and “de- accommodation”.

There is a 16 – 19 bursary available to all LAC to support their post 16 education. This must be applied for by the young person and is held by the further Education provider. More details can be found of the Department of Education website.

 Local authorities have ongoing responsibilities to support looked-after children as they make the transition to adulthood. That means supporting them to continue their education and training. This is why LAs, as part of their duties to care leavers, must pay a bursary to all former relevant children who are undertaking a recognised course of higher education. Details about the bursary are set out in the Children Act 1989 (Higher Education Bursary) Regulations 2009.

3. The Virtual School

The Virtual School is responsible for ensuring that the education and attainment of LAC is adequate and meets each specific needs of the care plan. The school is made up of a Head of the virtual school and a team of qualified teachers. Key activities of the team are:

  • Leading and/ or monitoring the initiation, implementation, progress and review of each child’s Personal Education Plan. The level of involvement of the Virtual School will depend on the level of need of the child in this area;
  • Monitoring attendance and absence at school of all Cambridgeshire LAC in all authorities;
  • Each teacher within the Virtual school has a connection with a certain number of Cambridgeshire schools - all Cambridgeshire schools have a Designated Teacher for LAC;
  • Liaising with the Virtual Schools in other authorities where Cambridgeshire LAC are placed;
  • Working with the placement resources team to ensure the quality of placements which include educational provision in other authorities.

4. Where a Child becomes Looked After

All children and young people must have an individual placement plan drawn up for them within 5 working days of the placement commencing, regardless of the type of placement. The placement plan will contain essential information regarding the child for the carer. The arrangements for the education of the child should be included in this. Therefore within five working days of placement, social work must inform the Virtual School that the child has become looked after, or has moved placement, giving full details of the child’ school or educational placement at the point of becoming looked after. This is done through the completion of a SOC 408.

The child will be allocated to a Virtual School Teacher according to the school attended or due to be attended who will draw up an Initial Personal Education Plan in order to gather and share all the important information about the child. The plan will establish some initial actions to support the child or young person’s education. This plan will be available for the first LAC review of arrangements.

The Virtual School monitors daily attendance and any exclusion of all looked after children in and out of authority using the Welfare Call service.

There are specific situations which are described below which required outlining in order to best support the child or young person in enjoying and achieving. The Virtual School will support the child/young person and the social worker in the following situations.

In placing any child or young person, their educational needs should be a key consideration, alongside their health or cultural needs. The Care planning, Placement and Case review regulations state that the Local Authority should do everything possible to minimise disruption to the child’s education. This means maximising efforts to arrange a care placement which enables existing educational provision to be maintained where this is in the best interests of the child.”

With regard to key stage 4, it goes on to say where a child is in key stage 4 (years 10 and 11) everything possible should be done to maintain the child in his / her existing educational placement and a move should only be made in exceptional circumstances”.

The Nominated Officer (Head of Social Work) must approve any changes 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 other from serious injury. In these circumstances the the Local Authority must make appropriate arrangements to promote the child's educational achievement as soon as reasonably practicable taking into account the following:

  • 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 Virtual School Teacher is consulted as lead professional with regards to Education;
  • The Independent Reviewing Officer has been consulted;
  • The Designated Teacher at the child's school has been consulted.

5. LAC Placed in Authority

Where a child becomes looked-after and is placed within Cambridgeshire, the placements considered should take in to account where the child attends school.

Maintaining continuity by keeping the child in the same school is a priority. The school may change later as the child is placed permanently.

Where the child’s safety is compromised by leaving them in a school placement close to their home, then consideration must be given to moving the child to a different school.

6. LAC Placed Out of Authority

Where a child is placed out of authority in a planned way, then staff from Cambridgeshire’s Virtual School will talk to staff from the Virtual School in the authority where the child is to be placed, in order to find the best school for that child. The social worker must ensure that the Virtual School is aware of these plans by notifying the school as soon as plans are being made. The education of the child should be a key consideration when seeking a placement out of county. Under no circumstances should the proposed carers be asked to seek a school for the child.

Information about the nature of any placement which offers educational provision as part of the package must always be sought from the Placement Team.

Where a child is placed out of authority and has started school the Virtual School will complete the first PEP and attend the first LAC review. After this, it will be the responsibility of the social worker to monitor and lead on reviewing the PEP. The Virtual School will participate in alternate PEP reviews.

Where a child is looked after and is placed out of authority in an emergency the social worker should inform the virtual school within 5 working days.

7. LAC and Out of School

Where the child becomes looked after and is out of school, then all arrangements should continue e.g. one to one tuition.

Where a looked-after child is excluded for a school for a fixed term, the school must ensure that it provides education from the first day of the exclusion e.g. work being sent home and the social worker and carer must ensure that the child and young person carried this out.

The Local Authority has a duty to ensure that all LAC in receipt of alternative provision are in receipt of 25 hours, high registered provision.

8. LAC that are Disabled

Where the child is disabled and in or out of authority the above will apply. When the child has a Education, Health and Care Plan for 0 - 25 years and needs an out of authority placement, then Cambridgeshire’s Student Assessment team must be part of the placing process, and must ensure that the other authority is given full details of the statement. The authority into which the child moves will then maintain the statement and recoup the cost from Cambridgeshire.

9. LAC that are Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

Where an UASC is placed within authority then the same provision applies as any other LAC - the education needs of the UASC will be part of the assessment.

At present where the UASC goes straight out of authority then there is no involvement from the Virtual School due to the lack of knowledge regarding the child or young person’s educational needs.

10. The Personal Education Plan

There are different PEP forms for each of the following levels in addition to the Initial PEP form:

  • Foundation stage (3-4);
  • Primary (4-11);
  • Secondary (11-16).

11. Initiating and Implementing the PEP

The Virtual School teacher will lead on initiating the PEP as soon as notification (SOC 408) is received. The initial PEP will be written within 14 days (10 working days), to be available at the first statutory review meeting of the care plan at 28 days after placement (20 working days).

After that a full PEP meeting will be planned and managed by the Virtual School teacher. This is undertaken as a meeting including the social worker; carer (foster carer or representative from residential placement); designated teacher from the school; and the Virtual School teacher and the child or young person where appropriate for all or part of the meeting. The Virtual School teacher will write up and send the PEP to those present at the meeting and to the Review Office in preparation for the next LAC review.

Each LAC will have an annual PEP which will take place at an appropriate time during the academic year for his / her year group (e.g. Year 5 children may have their PEP during summer Term, whereas for Year 10 young people, it would be appropriate to hold it in the Autumn term). The Virtual School teacher will be responsible for managing the actions from that PEP.

Subsequent PEP reviews will take place in a variety of ways. The Virtual School teacher, in addition to the day to day intervention and “trouble shooting” will monitor and track attainment on a termly basis. As a result of this information, for one of the termly attainment check points, there will be a telephone conference or a series of calls or a face to face meeting to discuss the progress of the child / young person (depending upon the progress being made for each child). The Virtual School teacher will make the decision as to how the information needs to be shared. This will constitute the PEP review. If the young person or child moves schools, there would be an additional full meeting.

The PEP should not be seen in isolation from the overall care plan. the PEP is the core document which enables children and their social workers, carers and teachers to reach a shared and agreed understanding of what needs to be done, how, and by whom (including services and named people) to implement the plan.

It is vital that all professionals involved in the PEP including social workers; carers; teachers; educational psychologists and CAMH services work in a joined up way and act promptly to ensure that all actions agreed in the PEP are acted upon to help ensure that a child achieves to its fullest potential.

Standards by which to measure the quality and effectiveness of PEPs are laid out below:

  • Be a comprehensive and enduring record of the child’s experience, progress and achievement (academic and otherwise);
  • Be linked to information in other education plans, including a Education, Health and Care Plan for 0 - 25 years and IEP's;
  • Identify developmental and educational needs (short and long term) in relation to skills, knowledge, subject areas and experiences;
  • Set short term targets, including progress monitoring against each of the areas identified against development and educational needs;
  • Set long term plans and educational targets and aspirations (e.g. in relation to public examinations, further and higher education, work experience and career plans and aspirations);
  • Document identified actions for specific individuals intended to support the achievement of agreed targets;
  • Identify whether the child is eligible for Pupil Premium (LAC for 6 months) and whether the school is using it effectively to support increased attainment.

12. Review of the PEP

Ensuring the PEP is reviewed, and is up to date; is linking with other documents such as a Education, Health and Care Plan for 0 - 25 years; and that it is changed to reflect decisions made in the review is the responsibility of the social worker.

The PEP should be reviewed at a meeting within the school 14 days prior to each statutory review meeting of the care plan. The review of the PEP should be forward to the SASU review manager prior to the statutory review.

13. Support in Implementing the PEP

The PEP also must also describe a range of activities and developmental needs in order to support LAC in meeting the outcome of enjoying and achieving. The Virtual School teacher is available to support the social worker to ensure that the child or young person accesses the available resources.

Other resources support the wider achievement of children and young people that are looked-after by Cambridgeshire.

14. 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 Cambridgeshire Local Safeguarding Children Board Procedures Manual, Children Missing from Home or Care Procedure.

15. 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.

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.

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 Educational Support for Looked After Children 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 there is no appeal process.

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, in conjunction with the ESLAC 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. 

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.

16. Resources

Resources include the following:

The Personal Education allowance: Guidance for this is set out in “Personal Education Allowances: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities”. In Cambridgeshire, there is currently still a very small budget for this purpose; many authorities no longer have this fund available. The funding is managed by the Virtual School head and can be applied for by the Virtual School Teacher or social worker by completing the PEA application form. The application can be made for up to £500 per year for an individual child.

Guidance as to what is covered can be found here.

It will cover non-school support for learning, but does not replace funding that is already provided by the LA, such as foster carer allowances.

It is vital to consider what aspirations the child or young person may have for themselves and to foster resilience by encouraging children to achieve in areas where they may have talent.

Examples are:

  • Additional 1 - 1 tuition to support learning;
  • Out of school hours learning and development that will build the child’s self-esteem and confidence, creativity and intellectual development;
  • Personalised educational trips and visits that are not organised by the school or other educational provider as part of the curriculum;
  • Additional support for vocational training which is in addition to that provided by schools or other educational establishments.

17. Music Lessons

All children and young people who are Looked After and attending school in the county and city can access instrumental and vocal tuition taking place in their school (within school hours) at no charge. Additionally an instrument (portable instruments) will be made available from the county instrument bank to support their learning at no cost. Information may be required from partner schools or other county council departments in order to set up this provision. The service may seek financial support for children placed within county by other authorities or a reciprocal arrangement of support. The availability of this support can apply to one instrument only.

Further advice can be sought regarding this from the Virtual School. Further information about the type of music lessons and musical activity in Cambridgeshire can be found at the Cambridgeshire Music website.

18. Over 16 Bursary Fund/College Funding

All young people over 16 who are either in care or a care leaver (if they meet the residency criteria) will be eligible to receive a bursary of up to £1200 per year. To be eligible the young person will need to be under the age of 19 on the 31st August of the academic year in which they start their programme of study, they can continue to be supported via this bursary until the end of the academic year in which they turn 19 or to the end of the program of study, whichever is sooner.

19. Higher Education

Care leavers continue to receive a service from the service until they reach the age of 21 years, (this can be extended post 21 if there are additional vulnerabilities). If a young person is in full time education or training, the leaving care support can continue until they reach the end of their agreed program of education up until the age of 25. The support including financial support should be detailed in the pathway plan.

See Cambridgeshire County Council LAC and Leaving Care (16 – 25) Finance Handbook 2013.

20. Activities Carers Should Support

All carers, in playing their part in corporate parenting, should hold aspirations for the achievements of the young person. Activities that may be regarded as educational in a broader sense and that support the child to enjoy and achieve should be part of every looked after child’s experience, supported by their carer. These include activities such as swimming; joining a library; riding a bike; Brownies and Guides; Cubs and Scouts.

Routine expenditure, including clothing, e.g. brownies, scouts, youth club, swimming lessons etc will be made from the Fortnightly Carer Payment.

Funding for more expensive special skills and interests e.g. riding, ballet, music, drama lessons must be authorised by the area team manager. Such payments will be outside of the Fortnightly Carer Payment system of payments.

The CYPS LAC participation team hold an “achievement evening” to reward the success of Cambridgeshire’s looked after children and young people.

As part of caring for children and young people it is vital that foster carers; residential workers and allocated social workers ensure that achievements are rewarded e.g. improvements in work or good grades in exams. This should be discussed when it arises.

An additional reward for the young person in year 11 should be supported in attending the Leaver Ball. It should be seen as a ‘rite of passage’ and financial support given with buying the right clothes and the ticket to attend etc.

21. School Reports

The PEP should be clear in specifying who should receive a copy of the school report. Birth parents should always receive a copy where the young person is accommodated under s20 Children Act (1989), and consideration should be given as to when the birth parents receive a copy where a child is subject to a Care Order. The carers and social worker should always receive a copy of the report and give an appropriate response to the child/young person about the content of the report.

22. Holidays

Foster carers receive an additional payment of two weeks money to support taking a child or young person on holiday, this is described in fuller detail in Finance 6.11.

Residential establishments have a budget to provide holidays within the unit.

Holidays should not be taken during term time. This will be recorded as an unauthorised absence and is not acceptable.

23. Computers for LAC

All LAC are entitled to a computer. Please see the guidance and associated documents on Cambridgeshire County Council Internal Intranet. 

Where a disabled child requires specialist computer equipment the LA should consider how best to provide this.