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4.6.1 Education of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter applies to all Looked After and previously Looked After Children. The following government documents offer additional guidance:

Guidance on Looked After Children with Special Educational Needs placed out-of-authority this guidance explains the respective roles of the home Authority and the Authority where the child lives when these are different.

Promoting the Education of Looked After Children and Previously Looked After Children

Keeping Children Safe in Education

Sexting: how to respond to an incident

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

Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges

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

Designated Teacher for Looked After and Previously Looked After Children

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

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

Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools - Guidance

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.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in April 2019 to include amendments made by the Children and Social Work Act 2017 which relate to the status of 'previously looked after children'. A previously looked-after child is someone who is no longer looked after in England and Wales as a result of the making of an Adoption, Special Guardianship or Child Arrangements Order which includes arrangements relating to with whom the child is to live, or when the child is to live with any person, or who has been adopted from 'state care' outside England and Wales.

A new Section 8, Safeguarding the Looked After Child at School was added. A link was also added to the National Curriculum Assessments at Key Stage 2.

In addition, the procedure reflects the updated statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education (KCSIE) 2018 and guidance regarding Data protection and safeguarding as set out in Data protection: a toolkit for schools (August 2018).


Contents

  1. Promoting the Educational Achievement of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children
  2. The Personal Education Plan
  3. When a Child First becomes Looked After
  4. Stability and Continuity of Education
  5. When a Child Moves Out of Cambridgeshire
  6. Joining a New School
  7. Without a School Place
  8. Safeguarding the Looked After Child at School
  9. Celebrating Achievements
  10. Absent from School
  11. School Exclusions
  12. Further and Higher Education


1. Promoting the Educational Achievement of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children

This procedure focuses on the educational support that Cambridgeshire County Council, as the 'corporate parent', gives to the children and young people in its care and has been extended to cover new duties in relation to those who leave care through the making of an Adoption, Special Guardianship or Child Arrangements Order. It seeks to support social workers and teachers in providing not just the basics to ensure that children and young people achieve, but also to create aspiration and ambition, both in the children and young people themselves but also in those caring for them.

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

Legislation gives local authorities a specific duty to promote the educational achievement of Looked After and previously Looked After Children. Government statistics clearly demonstrate that Looked After children do worse than their peers at all stages of education and there is a commitment at both national and local levels to address this. Within Cambridgeshire, this is supported and coordinated by the 'Virtual School', but everyone shares a responsibility to maximise the opportunities and attainment of all Looked After children.

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

the subject of an Adoption, Special Guardianship or Child Arrangements Order which includes arrangements relating to with whom the child is to live, or when the child is to live with any person, or has been adopted from 'state care' outside England and Wales.

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

Governing bodies of schools and colleges are required to appoint a Designated Teacher to promote the educational achievement of children who are Looked After and previously Looked After Children to ensure that this person has appropriate training.

The Council's education policies seek to ensure that:

  • Closing the attainment and progress gap between Looked After children and their peers and creating a culture of high aspirations for them is a top priority;
  • Looked After Children have access to a suitable range of high quality education placement options and that commissioning services for them takes account of the duty to promote their educational achievement;
  • The Virtual School monitors the attendance and educational progress of Cambridgeshire's looked after children;
  • 'Voices Matter', Cambridgeshire's Children in Care Council and the Corporate Parenting Sub-Committee regularly address the educational experiences raised by Looked After children and seek to ensure that all looked after children have access to education that enables them to realise their potential.

The Virtual School Head is responsible for ensuring that arrangements are in place to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of the authority's Looked After Children, including those placed out of authority, and offer advice and information to those Previously Looked After (as defined in the statutory guidance) that attend a Cambridgeshire school or education setting. For children previously looked after by Cambridgeshire now living outside the county, the local Virtual School should be approached.

The Virtual School monitors and evaluates the educational attainment and progress of children Looked After as if they all attended a single school.

They do this by:

  • Ensuring the status of the child and their entitlement to support is made clear to all the professionals supporting that child;
  • Maintaining an up-to-date roll of Looked After Children who are in early years, school or college settings and gathering information about their education placement and educational progress; monitoring attendance and absence;
  • Informing headteachers and Designated Teachers in schools (within and outside the county) when they have a child on roll who is Looked After by Cambridgeshire;
  • Liaising with the Statutory Assessment Team (SAT) and other specialist teams within Cambridgeshire and also with Virtual Schools in other local authorities where Cambridgeshire children are placed;
  • Ensuring that social workers, Designated Teachers and schools, carers and IROs understand their role and responsibilities in initiating, developing, reviewing and updating the child's Personal Education Plan (PEP) and delivering on the plans made; Promoting and monitoring the effective use of Pupil Premium Plus in PEPs;
  • Ensuring that all Looked After Children, wherever they are placed, have a PEP and quality assuring PEPs to ensure they are up to date, effective and focus on educational outcomes;
  • Reporting regularly on the attainment of Looked After Children through the authority's corporate parenting structures.

Social workers, the Access to Resources Team (ART), the Virtual School, School Admissions and SAT should work together to ensure that, wherever possible, care placements are identified that do not disrupt the child's education. Where new provision is required, this must be arranged at the same time as a care placement, taking account of the child's needs and abilities, including any EHC Plan. Even where a placement is made in an emergency, an appropriate local education placement should be identified as soon as possible.

Some residential providers offer in-house education but children must not be placed there unless this is the most appropriate way of meeting their needs and explicit agreement has been obtained from both Education and Children's Services managers to fund it in addition to the residential placement. The first priority must always be for the child to be placed in a suitable, local school, not least because this involves the 'normal' situation of home and school being separate. Where the child has an EHC Plan, the education provider must be able to deliver all elements of that Plan.

Where there is any disagreement with education colleagues about the most appropriate placement, or its funding, there should be full and frank discussions, including a meeting if necessary, before such a placement is made, to arrive at a 'local authority' position.

The role of carers in supporting education

All carers, in playing their part in corporate parenting, should have aspirations for the achievements of the children in their care. They are expected to attend all parent's evenings, guidance events and other school / college activities to support engagement and educational attainment. They must encourage and support the completion of homework and undertake nightly/bedtime reading, as appropriate. In addition, they should engage children in activities that may be regarded as educational in a broader sense and that support children to 'enjoy and achieve'. These can include, but are not limited to, sports, swimming, joining a library, riding a bike, joining clubs, Brownies and Guides, Cubs and Scouts.

Routine expenditure, including clothing e.g. Brownies, Scouts, youth club, swimming lessons, etc will be met from fostering payments or residential budgets. Looked after children cannot be charged directly for in-school music tuition. The cost of any such tuition must be covered by the school / setting or by Children's Services and discussed within the PEP (see below).

If additional funding is required for more expensive special skills and interests, for example, riding, ballet, music, drama lessons,etc, this must be authorised by the social worker's line manager.

It is very important for children to participate in family holidays with their carers or residential Team. However, holidays must not be taken during term time. This will be recorded as an unauthorised absence and is not acceptable.

As part of caring for children and young people it is vital that foster carers, residential workers and social workers ensure that achievements are rewarded, for example, improvements in work or good grades in exams. Further, the Children's Services Participation Team hold an annual 'achievement' evening to celebrate and reward the success of Cambridgeshire's Looked After Children.

Promoting the Educational Achievement of Previously Looked After Children

Local authorities have a new duty introduced by the Children and Social Work Act, 2017, to promote the educational achievement of previously looked-after children in their area by providing information and advice to:

  • Any person who has parental responsibility for the child;
  • Providers of funded early years education, designated teachers for previously looked-after children in maintained schools and academies; and
  • Any other person the authority considers appropriate for promoting the educational achievement of relevant children.

The duty applies to children who are in early years' provision (secured by the local authority under section 7(1) of the Childcare Act 2006) and continues throughout the compulsory years of education where the child is in provision funded in part or in full by the state. It applies to all children being educated in Cambridgeshire, regardless of where they currently live, or which local authority was responsible whilst they were looked after.

Whilst the lead responsibility lies with the Virtual School, it is important for social workers to inform those considering offering legal permanence for a Looked After Child that the council would continue to offer advice and information, should it be required, in the future. It is also important to note that this is an 'offer' of support rather than being in any way mandatory, as it would be for the parent/carer to decide whether to seek/accept assistance.

Pupil Premium Plus Funding

All looked after and previously looked after children are eligible for PP+ funding. This is additional funding provided to help improve attainment 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. Funding for looked after children is managed by the Virtual School; for those previously looked after, it goes direct to the school. The Designated Teacher has an important role in ensuring the specific needs of looked-after and previously looked-after children are understood by the school's staff and reflected in how the school uses PP+ to support these children.

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. For looked after children it is managed by the Virtual School, whilst funding for previously looked after children is paid direct to, and managed by, the school.


2. The Personal Education Plan

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.

Where a child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (ECHP), this must work in coordination with their Care Plan. The PEP needs to support both documents.

The first full PEP is arranged by the school in discussion with social worker, carers and Virtual School and must be initiated within 10 working days of the child becoming looked after. The PEP must be available for the first Looked After Review and all subsequent LAC Reviews. PEPs should then be reviewed each school term so that rolling programme of planning and review is developed.

All looked after children up to the age of 18, 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. In Cambridgeshire an online Electronic PEP system (ePEP) is used, with different formats according to age/stage:

  • Early Years (Rising 2s – Reception);
  • Mainstream School (Year 1 - 11);
  • Post 16 (Year 12 – 13);
  • SEND Special School (Reception to Year 13).

The full ePEP is undertaken as a meeting at which the social worker, carer (foster carer or residential placement), Designated Teacher for Looked After Children in school, parents and the child or young person (if appropriate) will be present. Where additional support is required, the Virtual School may be represented at the meeting to offer advice, guidance and, if required, challenge to the school or setting. From September 2019, the Virtual School are moving to a school improvement model and will not be attending individual PEPs. Schools will be supported and challenged through a school visit.

All sections of the ePEP must be completed by the school and social worker and the Virtual School will quality assure and then approve it as an appropriate record of the child's education provision, for circulation by the social worker. A copy must be retained on the child's file and the Care Plan amended as required. Independent Reviewing Officers have access to the ePEP system and are able to view completed ePEPs such that pertinent education information can inform Reviews. The Virtual School offer training for new social workers on how to complete the PEP.

The Designated Teacher ensures the ePEP is undertaken, invites participants to and chairs the meeting. They are responsible for ensuring the interventions in the ePEP are carried out and the child's progress towards education targets is monitored. The Virtual School provide training and guidance for designated teachers and will support and challenge schools where there are concerns about progress and will quality assure every ePEP.

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

The PEP should:

  • Identify developmental (including any related to attachment) and educational needs (short and longer term) in relation to skills, knowledge, subject areas and experiences;
  • Include SMART short-term targets, including progress monitoring of each of the areas identified against development and educational needs;
  • Include SMART longer-term plans for educational targets and aspirations. These should, according to age and understanding, typically focus on public examinations, further and higher education, managing money and savings, work experience and career plans and aspirations;
  • Identify actions, with time scales, for specific individuals intended to support the achievement of agreed targets and use of any additional resources (such as Pupil Premium) Record details of specific interventions and targeted support that will ensure personal education targets are met, especially at the end of Key Stage 2 in relation to English and mathematics, and at Key Stage 4 in achieving success in public examinations;
  • Identify possible action to support special educational needs, though information contained within a EHC Plan does not have to be duplicated, a reference is sufficient so long as the plans work together to meet overall needs;
  • Clarify arrangements to identify and support any mental health needs relevant to the child's education;
  • Outline how a child's aspiration and self-confidence is being nurtured, especially in consideration of longer-term goals towards further and higher education, work experience and career plans;
  • Include a record of the child's academic achievements and participation in the wider activities of the school and other out of school learning activities (e.g. sporting, personal development); • Include the child's views on their challenges and progress and what support they would like or consider to be most effective;
  • Provide information which helps all who are supporting the child's educational achievement to understand what works for them, helping to substitute for the role that parents might otherwise provide; and
  • Have clear accountability in terms of who both within, and away from, the school is responsible for delivering the actions identified;
  • Specify who should receive a copy of the school report. Birth parents should always receive a copy where the young person is accommodated (s20) and consideration should also be given to this where the child is the subject of a Care Order. The carers and social worker must always receive a copy.

In addition, the PEP should include:

  • Chronology of education and training history which provides a record of the child's educational experience and progress in terms of National Curriculum Assessments, including information about educational institutions attended and the reasons for leaving, attendance and conduct record, academic and other achievements, any special educational needs, an indication of the extent to which the child's education has been disrupted before entering care or accommodation;
  • 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;
  • The respective roles of those involved with the child in promoting the child's educational achievements and leisure interests;
  • The effective use of the Pupil Premium (up to the age of 16) and any application for bursary support (post-16);
  • Details of who will take the plan forward, with timescales for action and review.

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.

The school and the local authority share responsibility for helping looked-after children to achieve and enjoy education. The content, implementation and review of the PEP enable both the school and local authority to discuss how they can help achieve this. Schools are well placed to identify emerging or ongoing mental health issues. Teachers are not expected to be mental health experts, though have an important role in ensuring they and other school staff identify signs of potential issues and understand where the school can draw on specialist services, such as CAMHS and educational psychologists. Schools are expected to ensure that 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.

Social workers should engage positively with their school colleagues to ensure that appropriate support is 'wrapped around' individual children with mental health needs.

The social worker is responsible for the distribution of the ePEP and for ensuring only those entitled to receive the document do so.

Computers for Looked After Children

If a computer/laptop is required for educational purposes, this should be identified in the PEP meeting. If a laptop is required and links to the child's targets, it may be appropriate to purchase this using Pupil Premium Plus.

Where a disabled child requires specialist computer equipment, the social worker and Virtual School should consider how best to provide this (including discussion with the SEND team, as appropriate).

Reviewing and Updating PEPs

Second and subsequent PEP meetings should, where possible, coincide with Looked After Reviews and PEP decisions and recommendations must be available to the child's Independent Reviewing Officer at each Review. Where the child has an EHC Plan, its review may be scheduled to coincide with the LAC Review and/or PEP.

Proposals that would lead to significant changes in arrangements (e.g. a change of school, a request for an Education, Health and Care Needs Assessment) and/or to increases in expenditure (private tuition, a jointly-funded placement) should be brought to the attention of the IRO who can check progress at the next Looked After Review.

The IRO has access to the ePEP to ensure they are aware of education information for the Looked After Review and should ensure that the PEP's effectiveness is scrutinised in sufficient detail as part of each Review and at other times if necessary. Where a child has an EHC Plan, the IRO should ensure that the PEP and LAC Reviews are linked with any review of those needs.

The IRO should raise any unresolved concerns about a child's PEP or education provision with the school, social worker and the Virtual School Head.


3. When a Child First becomes Looked After

3.1 Notification

Initial information is collected by the Virtual school on receipt of the SOC 408 form. The first full PEP is arranged by the school in discussion with social worker, carers and Virtual School within 20 days. The PEP must be available for the first Looked After Review. PEPs should then be reviewed each school term so that rolling programme of planning and review is developed.

If the child has an EHC plan or is in the process of assessment, the social worker should ensure SAT are aware.

The Virtual School will allocate a team member to the child and they will inform the Designated Teacher at the child's school.

3.2 The First Personal Education Plan

The first Personal Education Plan 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 SEN Support (formerly '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;
  • Clarify contact arrangements and any safeguarding issues regarding parents;
  • Establish the importance of prompt information sharing and any boundaries of confidentiality (for example who, within the school will know that the child is looked after); Also, whether the child has a 'cover story' to help them fit in or avoid difficult questions, etc.
  • Agree a date for the next PEP review meeting.

N.B. The core provision of education for pupils with EHC Plans can only be changed if the EHC Plan has been amended at an annual review.


4. Stability and Continuity of Education

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.

The Head of Service must approve any change of placement affecting a child in Key Stage 4, except in an emergency or 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 social worker and Virtual School must make appropriate arrangements to promote the child's education as soon as reasonably practicable, taking account of:

  • The child's wishes and feelings;
  • The wishes and feelings of the parent(s) where the child is accommodated (where possible) and where appropriate where the child is the subject of a Care Order);
  • The educational provision's ability to promote educational achievement consistent with the PEP;
  • Consultation with the Independent Reviewing Officer;
  • Consultation with the Designated Teacher at the child's school.

Transport. Wherever possible, children should be taken to school by their carer and the use of third-party transport providers should be the exception. In order to maintain continuity of school, those with responsibility for school transport should be approached to provide assistance if required. 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.

Medical conditions. Governing bodies have a statutory duty to make arrangements to support pupils at school with medical conditions. The Designated Medical Officer can support schools with these duties. For more information see Supporting Pupils at School with Medical Conditions (2015): Statutory Guidance for Governing Bodies of Maintained Schools and Proprietors of Academies in England (DfE).

Pregnancy. 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 she is supported to remain in education if at all possible and, if placed out of Cambridgeshire, arrange for her to receive support from the education authority for the area in which she lives and/or the school she attends


5. When a Child Moves Out of Cambridgeshire

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 must (unless it is an emergency placement) begin well before the move to a new placement. The Virtual School will lead in coordinating this activity.

Whenever possible, a child should not be moved to a new placement until they also have a school place.

Where the child does not have a school place - see Section 7, Without a School Place.

Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans

Where a child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (previously a Statement of Special Educational Needs), the Plan must be transferred to the 'host' authority, unless the placement is providing care and education. The social worker should explore the host area's Local Offer to identify appropriate support services for the child.

Where a child does not have an EHCP, but is thought to require one, the social worker in discussion with the Virtual School and parents (where appropriate) should apply to the host area for the assessment to be undertaken.

EHC Plans are subject to (at least) annual review. Where possible/helpful, these meetings should coincide with the child's Looked After Review and/or PEP to ensure a holistic discussion of the child's needs.


6. Joining a New School

The choice of school should be based on a discussion between the Virtual School, the child's social worker, their carers and, if appropriate, birth parents. Looked After children are given the highest priority within school admission arrangements. Virtual School leads, working with the education setting, should ensure the Pupil Premium is utilised to fund additional provision according to individual need.

Schools judged by Ofsted to be 'good' or 'outstanding' should be prioritised for Looked After children in need of a new school. Unless there are exceptional evidence-based reasons, Looked After children should not be placed in a school judged by Ofsted to be 'inadequate'.

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

Changes of school should be minimised to avoid disruption to the child's education and should not take place in the middle of a school year or in years 10 and 11, unless this is unavoidable - see Section 4, Stability and Continuity of Education.

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

Previously Looked After Children also have the highest priority for admissions.

6.1 Notification

The Designated Teacher or the Head Teacher must be informed by the social worker - ideally before placement, but always within 48 hours - that the child is Looked After or, where there is ongoing involvement, and with parental permission, qualifies as 'previously looked after' and must 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 and the general duty of confidentiality.

6.2 Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans

A change of school at any time needs the agreement of SAT who are responsible for all Education, Health and Care Plans. This needs to be discussed as early as possible to ensure a suitable school placement can be identified.

The child's social worker should ensure that they are aware of the contents of the Plan, including what additional support is specified and who provides it.

6.3 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 PEPs should correspond, where possible, with the Looked After Review cycle.

In addition to the requirements outlined above, the first PEP in a new school should:

  • Identify the child's immediate and priority needs (such as English as an additional language, literacy support, behaviour management, mental health issues);
  • Establish contact between residential staff/carer, school staff and social worker - the basis of a working partnership;
  • Identify a named person for the day-today management of the PEP;
  • Clarify contact arrangements and any safeguarding issues regarding parents;
  • Establish the importance of prompt information sharing and any boundaries of confidentiality (for example who, within the school will know that the child is looked after); Also, whether the child has a 'cover story' to help them fit in or avoid difficult questions, etc.
  • 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 (this needs to take account of the Looked After Review cycle because the PEP has to be ready before or at the Review; but also term dates, parents' evenings, school target setting days, reviews of any SEN Support Plans (previously 'Individual Education Plan'), annual reviews of Education, Health and Care Plans etc.).


7. Without a School Place

Finding a school place for a looked after child is primarily the social worker's responsibility having sought advice and guidance from the Virtual School, but this may be delegated to, or shared with, others.

7.1 PEPs

Children without a school place must still have an up to date PEP. It should address the child's immediate educational needs, any interim or 'alternative provision' arrangements and the longer-term planning.

7.2 Children Placed within the local authority area

Where the child does not have a school place, the Virtual School will provide support and individualised education until the child is on roll. If a mainstream school is not appropriate to his or her needs, and alternative provision is required, Cambridgeshire operates a policy where the local authority for primary schools and secondary schools for secondary age pupils take responsibility for the education of those pupils. Under these circumstances the Virtual School should be asked to take a lead role in identifying and approving the child's provision. 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.

7.3 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 Virtual School who will liaise with 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 7.4, 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.

7.4 Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans

Applications for school places for pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan should be made through START not directly with a school. This needs to be planned for as early as possible.

The Virtual School will advise and liaise with SEND to support this process.


8. Safeguarding the Looked After Child at School

All children should feel and be safe in the school they attend. Looked after children are a vulnerable group and the aim of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children in education should be:

  • Protecting them from maltreatment;
  • Preventing any impairment of their health or development;
  • Ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with safe and effective care;
  • Being proactive in enabling them to experience positive outcomes.

All school staff should be aware of the systems in the school that support safeguarding and be familiar with their responsibilities and referral protocols.

Data protection and safeguarding

Data protection legislation (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) they would record who they are sharing that information with and for what reason. If they have taken a decision not to seek consent from the subject child and/or a parent/carer that should also be recorded.

All relevant information can be shared without consent if to gain consent would place a child at risk. Concerns about sharing information must not stand in the way of promoting the welfare and protecting the safety of children.

It is essential that social worker and carers ensure that school staff, particularly the Designated Safeguarding Lead, have accurate and up to date information concerning who is, and is not, allowed contact with each looked after child.

Any concern/ suspicion regarding any adult seeking contact with the child, either in person or through social media, during school hours should be reported to the social worker, via 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. Each school will have in place a system compatible with the Cambridgeshire Safeguarding Children Board procedure on Managing Allegations or Serious Concerns in respect of any Adult who Works or Volunteers with Children which will include notification to the responsible social worker.

Peer relationships and abuse

All those working with children and young people should be aware that safeguarding issues can arise where peer relationships become abusive, so called 'peer on peer' abuse. This can include (but is not limited to) bullying (including cyberbullying); sexual violence and sexual harassment; physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, shaking, biting, hair pulling, or otherwise causing physical harm; sexting and initiating/hazing type violence and rituals. It may be specific to a particular relationship, but can also be symptomatic of wider sexual or criminal exploitation. Education staff should be clear as to the school or college's policy and procedures with regards to peer on peer abuse, whilst social workers should report any concerns promptly to the child/young person's teacher or the Designated Safeguarding Lead.

Looked after children can be particularly vulnerable to individual or group bullying, both 'in person' and through social media where they can be subject to verbal and physical violence and/or sexual violence and harassment. It is important to also bear in mind that looked after children may also be the perpetrators of abuse. Here, the school or college will have to balance safeguarding the victim (and the wider student body) whilst providing the alleged perpetrator with an education and appropriate safeguarding support whilst implementing any appropriate sanction.

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

Also, see procedures concerning:

Further information about children at risk of missing education can be found in the Children Missing Education Guidance.


9. Celebrating Achievements

As well as being highlighted and celebrated by carers and others at the time, 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

Each Looked After Child's educational attainments at Key Stages 1-3, level 2 and 3 qualifications, vocational progress or apprenticeship success should be recorded, including on ICS and in the PEP.


10. Absent from School

Whilst the school attendance of all Looked After children is monitored on a daily basis by Welfare Call, the residential staff/foster carer must notify the school and the child's social worker immediately if the child does not attend school for any reason. See: Section 8, Safeguarding the Looked After Child at School regarding the safeguarding responsibilities of schools.

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.


11. School Exclusions

Where a school has concerns about a Looked After child's behaviour, the Virtual School should be informed and, if appropriate, involved at the earliest opportunity. This is to enable the Virtual School, working with others, to:

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

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

11.1 Fixed term exclusions

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 Looked After Children. Exclusion from school should be a last resort and it is therefore important to work with the school and carers to intervene as soon as a child's behaviour becomes a cause for concern.

Schools may sometimes suggest to carers or the social worker that a child does not attend for a period without formal action being taken by the school. This is not an acceptable response to difficulties at school and should not be agreed. It must immediately be discussed with line manager and the Virtual School and alternative strategies considered.

Where a child is excluded from school for a fixed period, the school will provide appropriate education from the first day of the exclusion (for non LAC pupils this is from the sixth day). The school will communicate the reasons for the exclusion to the residential staff/carer and the social worker. Whoever is 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 carers and parents (where appropriate), must seek advice from the Virtual School, 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 and Virtual school lead should ensure a reintegration meeting is held within the five days to discuss his/her return and how this can best be supported.

11.2 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 Virtual School lead to agree who will contact the local education service to find an alternative school placement. In Cambridgeshire, if a secondary school permanently excludes a pupil they remain responsible for the education of the child until they are placed on roll at a new school. If the child is in a primary school, the local authority becomes responsible for the education of the child once the governors have confirmed the exclusion. There should be an expectation that any provision is full-time and the social worker should push for this, in discussion with the Virtual School lead.

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. Advice must be sought from the Virtual School regarding the appeals form which can be completed by a foster carer or anyone who has parental responsibility for the child.

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


12. Further and Higher Education

12.1 Post 16 Bursary Fund / College Funding

All young people who are over 16 and either currently Looked After or classed as a care leaver (if they meet the residency criteria) will be eligible to receive a bursary of up to £1200 per annum. To be eligible, the young person would need to be aged under 19 on 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 until the end of the programme of study, whichever is sooner.

12.2 Higher Education

Care leavers continue to receive a service from the Local authority until they reach 21 years of age (this can be extended beyond 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 programme of education up until the age of 25. The support should be detailed in the Pathway Plan.

For further details see Leaving Care and Transition Procedure.

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