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11.5.3 Education of Looked After Children


  1. Duty to Promote the Educational Achievement of Looked After Children
  2. Introduction
  3. Responsibility for School Attendance
  4. School Places
  5. Nursery and Reception Classes
  6. Young people with Special Educational Needs
  7. Personal Education Plans
  8. The Contribution of the Corporate Parent to Education
  9. Avoidance of Disruption in Education
  10. Specific Requirements at Key Stage 4
  11. School Reports on Children in Care
  12. Home Tuition
  13. Free Meals and Entitlement to Transport Support
  14. Clothing and School Uniforms
  15. Post 16 Bursary
  16. Support with Transport Costs
  17. Exclusion
  18. Children and Young People with Medical Conditions
  19. Training for those Involved in the Care and Education of Looked After Children
  20. Information Sharing

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

Under Section 22 (3A) of the Children Act 1989, Local Authorities have a duty to promote the educational achievement of Looked After children. Section 99 of the Children and Families Act 2014 and July 2014 legislation Promoting The Education Of Looked After Children imposes a requirement for an officer to be appointed to discharge this duty – sometimes referred to as a ‘Virtual School Head’ (‘VSH’).

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

An up-to-date list of Designated Teachers should be maintained to assist with communications and assist other authorities that have placed children within the authority.

As leaders responsible for ensuring that the Local Authority discharges its duty to promote the educational achievement of their Looked After children, Directors of Children’s Services and Lead Members for Children’s Services should ensure that:

  • Closing the attainment and progress gap between Looked After 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;
  • VSHs are in place and have the resources, time, training and support they need to discharge the duty effectively;
  • VSHs have robust procedures in place to monitor the attendance and educational progress of the children their authority looks after;
  • The authority’s Children in Care Council (CiCC) regularly addresses the educational experiences raised by Looked After children and is able to respond effectively to such issues.

The Virtual School Head should be the lead responsible officer 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.

VSHs should ensure the educational attainment and progress of children Looked After by the Local Authority are monitored and evaluated as if those children attended a single school.

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

  • Maintain an up-to-date roll of its Looked After children who are in school or college settings and gather information about their education placement, attendance and educational progress;
  • Inform headteachers and Designated Teachers in schools if they have a child on roll who is Looked After by the VSH’s Local Authority;
  • Ensure that social workers, Designated Teachers and schools, carers and IROs understand their role and responsibilities in initiating, developing, reviewing and updating the child’s PEP and how they help meet the needs identified in that PEP;
  • Ensure up-to-date, effective and high quality PEPs that focus on educational outcomes and that all Looked After children, wherever they are placed, have such a PEP;
  • Ensure the educational achievement of children Looked After by the authority is seen as a priority by everyone who has responsibilities for promoting their welfare;
  • Report regularly on the attainment of Looked After children through the authority’s corporate parenting structures.

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

There is a designated governor for LAC, these are the only people and may be the chair that should have reports and relevant information should ensure that appropriate staff have the information they need in relation to a child’s Looked After legal status (whether they are looked after under voluntary arrangements with consent of parents or on an interim or full Care Order). This is Social Cares responsibility. The designated safeguarding lead, through the Designated Teacher for Looked After children, should have details of the child’s social worker and the name of the Virtual School Head.

The Virtual School Head should promote a culture that takes account of the child’s views according to age and understanding in identifying and meeting their educational needs.

2. Introduction

We will seek to identify and disseminate good practice, and to create a learning culture in children's social care (Nottinghamshire Statement of intent for Children's Social Care April 2011).

Children looked after by a Local Authority suffer from a number of interlocking educational disadvantages. Some are 'external - the experience of frequently disrupted schooling, the lack of opportunities to acquire basic skills - others are pathological – experience of trauma, low self-esteem. However essential to educational success is the level of expectation of social workers and carers about the capabilities and potential of children in their care and the degree of priority given to educational issues.

Local Authorities are required to promote educational attainment as an integral part of their duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children and young people in their care (Section 22(3) (a) CA89). This means that the Authority must consider the educational implications of any decision about the welfare of those young people. This duty applies to all children and young people looked after by the Authority, wherever they are placed and includes making sure that young children access quality nursery provision as well as supporting relevant and former relevant children.

In discharging their duty to promote the educational achievement of looked after children the Authority must ensure that the care plan ensures a looked after child has the same opportunities to maximise their potential as peers accommodated by their birth parents.

3. Responsibility for School Attendance

Duty to promote high standards and the fulfillment of potential (Education and Inspections Act 2006 Part 1 Section 1).

Children may now start school in the September after their fourth birthday and from 2013, young people have have a duty to participate in education or training until the age of 18. As a corporate parent, the Authority has a clear responsibility to ensure that young people in its care attend school, arrive at school on time, properly dressed and in a fit state to benefit from and participate in the education offered to them.

4. School Places

Preferably, a young person of school age should have a school place before becoming Looked After. Finding a school place is the joint responsibility of the social worker and the virtual school but may be delegated to or shared with others by agreement (r an officer of the education team).

If a young person without a school place becomes 'Looked After', the social worker should liaise with the Virtual School to identify an appropriate education placement. Where the young person is accommodated by the Authority in an emergency, before a school place is found, a school placement where possible should be offered within 20 days of the placement starting.

If the young person already has a school place, the social worker should notify the Head Teacher in the school of the Looked After placement.

5. Nursery and Reception Classes

Nursery age children and those in Reception classes should have an Early Years Plan, which serves the same purpose as a Personal Education Plan (PEP).

6. Young people with Special Educational Needs

When a young person who is Looked After by Nottinghamshire Local Authority, and who is the subject of a Education, Health and Care Plan, may need to change school, the social worker should contact the Virtual School and Nottinghamshire SEND team at County Hall as early as possible so that any delays in identifying a suitable school and admitting the YP are minimised.

The funding for a special school place or any additional support in school for a LAC with a Education, Health and Care Plan remains the responsibility of Nottinghamshire wherever the child lives.

Any school placement or change of school for a Nottinghamshire LAC with a plan living outside Nottinghamshire will require liaison between the two LAs to agree appropriate arrangements for the child's education.

Any requests for a possible change of school for a pupil with a plan should also be discussed with the co-ordinator of Nottinghamshire's Virtual School for LAC before any application is made.

7. Personal Education Plans

The responsible Local Authority should make sure that every young person they look after has an effective, high quality Personal Education Plan (PEP) which forms the education component of the young person's overall care plan (regulation 5(1)(b) (ii) Care Planning Regulations 2010. The PEP is a record of the young person's education and training. It should describe what needs to happen for a looked after young person to help them fulfil their potential and reflect (though does not need to duplicate) any existing education plans such as a Education, Health and Care Plan. The Local Authority should work in partnership with the young person, their school (especially the designated teacher), carers,virtual school and other professionals to develop and review the PEP in order to make sure that it fully reflects the needs of the young person, remains up to date and is implemented.

The Designated Teacher leads on how the PEP is developed and used in school to make sure the child’s progress towards education targets is monitored. with the Virtual School Head having a quality assurance role.

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

The PEP is an evolving record, and arrangements for the flow of information to develop, review and update the PEP should be in place to ensure the VSH, Designated Teacher, carer and, where appropriate, child and parent have a copy of the latest version of the document. where required a PEP can be reviewed on a termly basis however it should statutorily be reviewed no later than every six months.

7.1 Initiating the PEP

Except where a young person is brought into LA care in an emergency, the PEP is initiated as part of the care plan before the young person has their first looked after review. The PEP should contribute to an assessment of the young person's educational needs and a version of it should have been developed and available for the first statutory review meeting of the Care Plan (28 days (20 working days) after entry to care or accommodation).

7.2 The content of the PEP

It is vital that the PEP is not seen in isolation from other parts of the Care Plan. It should interrelate with other strands, particularly those relating to health, emotional and behavioural development, identity and family and social relationships. There is a greater likelihood that a looked after young person will move education establishments more frequently than other young people, so the PEP is the core document enabling the young person, their social worker, 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). The school has a key role in developing, reviewing and updating the PEP in between the overall care plan reviews, so the corporate parent must work closely with the young person's education setting to ensure the plan remains current.

There is a range of information that can be included in the PEP (Schedule 1, paragraph 2 Care Planning Regulations 2010):

  1. A chronology of the young person's educational history, which provides a record of the young person's educational experience and progress in terms of levels of attainment. It should include (Schedule 1, paragraph 2(1) Care Planning Regulations 2010):
    1. Details of the schools and colleges attended and the reasons for leaving;
    2. An indication of the extent to which a young person's education has been disrupted before entering care or accommodation;
    3. Information about the young person's attendance and disciplinary record at each school attended; and information about academic progress, achievements and any special educational needs including details of any plan.
  2. Existing arrangements for the young person's education and training, including details any special education provision or specialist support which is put in place to promote the young person's educational achievement (Schedule 1, paragraph 2(2) Care Planning Regulations 2010);
  3. Details of the young person's leisure interests (Schedule 1, paragraph 2(3) Care Planning Regulations 2010);
  4. Details of the arrangements in place to minimise disruption of the young person's education and training where a change in the young person's educational arrangements is unavoidable (Schedule 1, paragraph 2(4) Care Planning Regulations 2010);
  5. A description of the role of the people who care for a young person in supporting their educational achievements, including how they support the young person to pursue leisure interests (Schedule 1, paragraph 2(5) Care Planning Regulations 2010);
  6. Details of who will take the plan forward, with timescales for action and review.

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 (e.g. the pupil premium) specifically designated to support the attainment of looked after children;
  • Highlight access to effective intervention strategies and how this will make/has made a difference to achievement levels.

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

Local Authorities should make sure that the areas identified translate into practical actions within the PEP of an individual young person. This means that the typical details expected in PEP include (where relevant):

  1. Objectives and targets which relate to educational aspirations (academic and non-academic) and leisure interests which support the young person to enjoy learning and to achieve and for which they and their carers feel a sense of ownership;
  2. A clear education pathway for securing education provisions where a young person is not in school or other education setting, which shows how the young person and their carers, will be supported to make sure that they are reintegrated into an appropriate educational placement without any long delay;
  3. Details of the support the young person needs and will receive in relation to, for example, one-to-one tuition, transition and integration support where a young person moves schools or other education setting; and
  4. A clear line of accountability which demonstrates a shared understanding and responsibility for supporting a young person's education, and which shows who is responsible for supporting the young person in relation to implementing each aspect of the PEP.

7.3 Review of the PEP

The PEP should be treated as a 'live document' that creates a shared understanding about how everyone can contribute to helping the young person to succeed. It should be reviewed in partnership with the young person, their school staff and carers as part of the statutory review of the wider care plan.

8. The Contribution of the Corporate Parent to Education

Different parts of the Authority should understand how they contribute to meeting the statutory duty on the authority to promote the education of Looked After young people and help them maximise their potential. This includes:

  1. Social workers and carers should understand the arrangements for giving a looked after young person priority in the school admission arrangements;
  2. Officers administering admission arrangements should give maximum co-operation to social workers;
  3. Staff in education settings should understand that permanent exclusion is a last resort and that alternative education provision must be available from the sixth day. In view of the impact that school exclusions can have on the young person's care placement, Local Authorities should strongly consider making alternative education provision from the first day of exclusion;
  4. Social workers, IROs and other social care staff should take every possible step to minimise disruption to an education placement because of entry into or exit from care or a change in care placement. Authorities should demonstrate through the PEP what additional support they are providing in order to help all looked after young person stay in the same school if they have to move to another address.

9. Avoidance of Disruption in Education

Continuity of education is important not only to young person's academic success but also to their emotional and social wellbeing. Moving school is usually unsettling, disruptive and detrimental to the young person. Only for a minority of young people will changing school potentially offer the possibility of a fresh start away from previous negative relationships.

Particular efforts should be made to ensure that the education of looked after young people in school years 10 and 11 (Key Stage 4) is not disrupted as a result of a placement move (regulation 10 Care Planning Regulations 2010). Care regs state a Looked After Review and/or consultation with the IRO and virtual school head should be held in the case of a KS4 pupil being moved schools.

The Authority has a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable, that the placement does not disrupt the young person's education or training (Section 22C(7) and (8)(b) Care Planning Regulations 2010). This means that the Authority has an obligation to ensure that the young person continues to stay at the same school even if they can no longer live in the catchment.

10. Specific Requirements at Key Stage 4

Moving a young person in the middle of a GCSE course may damage their chances of gaining the qualifications they need to enter further education or get a job. Many schools now have specific requirements about gaining a particular number of GCSEs or grades in order to enter year 12 and 13. For this reason, it is expected that the young person's education should not be disrupted other than because of an emergency placement. Only the Children's Services Manager may authorise such a change in a young person's educational placement. Before approving the decision, the Children's Services Manager must ensure that:

  1. The parents' wishes and feelings have been ascertained where the young person is accommodated and (where possible and appropriate) where the young person is the subject of a care order;
  2. The young person's wishes and feelings have been ascertained;
  3. The education provision made for the young person in the new placement will better promote their educational achievement and is consistent with the PEP;
  4. Other relevant agencies and practitioners have been informed;
  5. The young person's IRO has been consulted;
  6. The Head Teacher of the school where the young person is a registered pupil has been consulted;
  7. Virtual School has been consulted.

Where a young person will change school because of a placement move, the designated teacher at both the current and new schools must be consulted and the PEP amended. It should set out the arrangements that are being put in place to minimise the disruption to education, especially in relation to any arrangements for continuing with courses that lead to externally awarded qualifications.

11. School Reports on Children in Care

Unless the social worker arranges otherwise, the young person's normal reports will be sent to and discussed with young person's carer.

The Children and Young People Services automatically requests school reports for any young person in its care. These are normally six monthly and are requested and received social worker.

12. Home Tuition

If, due to extraordinary circumstance, (for example pregnancy, broken leg), a young person is unable to attend school, special arrangements may be made for them to receive tuition at an alternative location. All requests for home tuition should be made to the Health Related Team.

13. Free Meals and Entitlement to Transport Support

Young people in fostering or adoptive care qualify for free school meals if their carer receives any of the following: Adoption is not in care, a private fostering arrangement would qualify for free meals but the child is not in LA care under this description

  1. The Guarantee element of State Pension Credit;
  2. An income based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA);
  3. Income support;
  4. Income related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA);
  5. Asylum Seeker's Support;
  6. Young person Tax Credit (providing they are not entitled to Working Tax Credit and the annual income, as assessed by HMRC, does not exceed £16,190).

Young people of a low-income family (those entitled to free school meals and those whose families are entitled to their maximum level of Working Tax Credit) may be eligible to free school travel arrangements for young people in low-income groups.

14. Clothing and School Uniforms

This is through fostering allowances.

15. Post 16 Bursary

This is available to LAC in post 16 provisions and has to be applied for on application to the college/setting.

16. Support with Transport Costs

Young people in post-16 education may receive transport support if they:

  1. Are a Nottinghamshire County resident (excludes students resident in Nottingham City);
  2. Are attending a full time course (a minimum of 12 hours per week of supervised study) at a participating special school, sixth form or FE college (the scheme does not apply for higher education courses or universities);
  3. Live beyond a 2 mile radius from the participating establishment;
  4. Are over compulsory school age but under 19 years of age;

  5. Have begun a course of education and training at a participating establishment before attaining the age of 19 and continue to attend that course.

The Local Authority will endeavour to provide the necessary transport services but cannot guarantee to do so and will identify the most appropriate and cost effective transport service for each student. The arrangement may not offer choice of operator, route or service except where these are available and there is no extra cost incurred.

Students with special transport needs are eligible for support up to the age of 21 (and must be under 21 on 1 September of the applicable year). In exceptional individual circumstances, applications from students up to the age of 25 will be considered. The eligibility criteria for disabled students:

  1. A Nottinghamshire County resident (excludes students resident in Nottingham City);
  2. Attending a full time course (a minimum of 12 hours per week of supervised study) at a participating special school, sixth form or FE college (the scheme does not apply for higher education courses or universities);
  3. The 2 mile distance criterion and annual charges are waived.

The additional support will normally be in the form of:

  1. Additional adult support to access public transport services;
  2. The provision of a minibus, taxi or wheelchair accessible vehicle;
  3. Additional supervision where appropriate in addition to the driver.

17. Exclusion

Where a school has concerns about a Looked After child’s behaviour, the VSH should be informed and, where necessary, involved at the earliest opportunity. This is to enable the VSH, working with others, to:

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

The guidance makes it clear that the removal of a pupil from the school environment should be used only as a last resort in response to 'serious breaches' of a school's behaviour policy or to safeguard the welfare and education of other pupils.

Local Authorities have a responsibility towards all permanently excluded pupils to provide suitable full-time education and to reintegrate excluded pupils as quickly as possible into a suitable mainstream school. This includes all young people, not just those in Authority care.

The Education and Inspections Act 2006 requires the Local Authority (LA) to provide full-time education for all permanently excluded pupils who are resident within the county of Nottinghamshire. From the sixth school day of a permanent exclusion, the Authority is statutorily responsible for ensuring that suitable full-time education is provided.

The Local Authority procedure for school exclusion adheres to current legislation

  1. Fixed Period: a short-term exclusion for a defined period of time, normally a couple of days would it be better to say under 5 days over this time full time provision is provided by the school on the 6 day. The period involved should be clearly specified in writing by the Head Teacher;
  2. Permanent: when the young person's name is to be removed from the school roll. The Authority's procedures require that a panel consisting of a Head Teacher, trained School Governor and an LA Education Department Representative should meet within 10 school days of a Permanent Exclusion. The Disciplinary Committee decides whether permanently to exclude. The Head makes representation to this committee; it is not the Head's decision. The meeting is held with 15 days of the exclusion commencing.

The exclusion of a young person under Authority care should be treated no differently to that of a young person residing with birth parents. The duty of the Authority to provide a full-time education option after 6 days remains the same recommended that a child in care receive education from day one of exclusion.

18. Children and Young People with Medical Conditions

From 1 September 2014, governing bodies have a statutory duty to make arrangements to support pupils at school with medical conditions. The Designated Medical Officer can support schools with these duties. For more information see Supporting Pupils at School with Medical Conditions (2015): Statutory Guidance for Governing Bodies of Maintained Schools and Proprietors of Academies in England (DfE).

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

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

Such training, among other things, should include information about school admission arrangements; trauma and attachment and the impact on learning,S; attendance and exclusions; managing any challenging behaviour in relation to education settings; promoting positive educational activities and supporting children to be aspirational for their future education; training and employment, and the importance of listening to and taking account of the child’s wishes and feelings about education and the PEP process.

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

20. Information Sharing

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

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

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