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Social care staff have a very important role in supporting the education of children in care (CiC), and this is true whether you support the child or the carer.
Family Placement social workers will find it helpful to read the Carers' role in supporting education section in the Carers' pages of the website.
Early Years - 'Care Matters: Time for Change' introduced an expectation in care planning arrangements for children under five, particularly those aged three and four, that, except where it is demonstrated that it is not in the child's best interests, the social worker will work with the carer and the local authority to arrange high-quality early years education as part of the child's care plan.
Statutory school age - All children in care will be admitted to their first choice of school. It is important that applications are made in good time and the agreed process is followed. If a child in care does not have a statement of Special Educational Needs (SEN), the Admissions Section staff are the first people to speak to. If a child in care has a statement of SEN, you need to speak to the SEN section first. Please see the 'Admissions protocol and operational document' in the Related documents section for more information.
Schools sometimes report that they do not receive the correct information when a child in care is placed in their school. Please refer to the document called 'When placing a child in care in a new school' in the Related documents section to see what information social care staff should provide as a minimum in that situation.
If you need to contact someone about placing a young person in one of the South West LAs, you should find the document called Key contact for information when placing a child in another authority (pdf, 9 KB)(opens new window)useful.
It makes sense that children in care need to be in school to maximise their chances of achieving the best they can and so we all have a duty to make sure their attendance is as good as possible. Improving the attendance of children in care (pdf, 8 KB)(opens new window) provides further information, and can be shared with carers.
Did you know that a child in care can only miss a maximum of 23 school days a year for any reason?
Care placement changes that result in the young person not being able to attend school should be avoided if at all possible. If such a move is unavoidable, the virtual school must be informed. Please contact Rachael Thomas on 0117 922 4779.
The 2010 'Care planning placement and case review regulations' statutory guidance states: "When placing a child, the responsible authority is under a duty to ensure, so far as reasonably practicable in all the circumstances, that the placement does not disrupt the child's education or training. This means that the responsible authority have an obligation to try to ensure that the child can continue to stay at the same school even if s/he can no longer live in the immediate neighbourhood." (Paragraph 3.16).
There is specific guidance for young people in KS4: "Moving a young person in the middle of a GCSE course may damage his/her chances of gaining the qualifications that s/he needs to enter further education or to 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 at the school. For this reason requirements are placed on the responsible authority before a decision can be made to make any change to a placement that will disrupt the education of a young person in Key Stage 4 (school years 10 and 11). It is expected that the young person's education should not be disrupted other than as a consequence of an emergency placement." (Paragraph 3.18)
Extracts from the 2010 Care planning placement and case review regulations statutory guidance (pdf, 36 KB)(opens new window) provides further detail from the statutory guidance regarding a placement move that will disrupt a young person's education.
It is expected that social workers will work with schools to:
- Share information about a child's potentially volatile, aggressive or abusive behaviour to enable the school to make adequate health and safety arrangements
- Resolve any issues relating to the child's education or behaviour as quickly as possible
- Inform the school on the first day of absence if the child is unable to attend for any reason
- Let the school know about any significant changes affecting the young person's life.
Bristol schools are expected never to permanently exclude a child in care. Our schools work very closely with the Behaviour Improvement Service (BIS) to find an alternative in all cases.
Fixed term exclusions do occasionally occur. The school will work the BIS to try to avoid them if at all possible and certainly to minimise the number of days a child is excluded.
A protocol is in place on managing exclusions in Bristol schools. See the 'Process for reduced Fixed Term Exclusion of CiC' in Related documents on the right.
All children in care must have a current Personal Education Plan. The PEP is reviewed in line with the Looked After Child Review. It is important that you attend the child's PEP meetings and have the chance to contribute. The pages about Personal Education Plans provide more information about PEPs and the guidance and forms that Bristol City Council uses.
Top tips for PEPs
- Familiarise yourself with the current forms and guidance.
- Arrange the meeting sufficiently in advance to ensure all the relevant people can be present.
- Talk to the young person in good time before the PEP meeting to make sure s/he has time to fill in the relevant sections of the PEP form with whoever s/he chooses.
- Complete the relevant pages of the Essential PEP Information Record before the meeting.
- Make sure you take all the relevant paperwork to the meeting.
The Pupil Premium is available for all CiC from Year R to Year 11 who have been in the care of the local authority for at least 6 months. From 1 April 2014, children and young people will be eligible for the funding from the first day they come into care.
Ask the school when you attend the PEP meeting how the Pupil Premium funding has been spent and what impact it has had. Bristol has given Pupil Premium money to mainstream schools, academies or special schools which Bristol looked after children mainly attend, both in Bristol and in other local authorities. We have suggested that all Pupil Premium money for CiC is spent on those children in line with needs identified at the PEP. However, schools are free to spend the money as they see fit.
Some children in care will also be eligible for additional Pupil Premium funding if they have been registered for free school meals at any point in the last six years (known as ‘Ever 6 FSM’). The FSM portion of Pupil Premium is allocated directly to schools and not via the Virtual School.
Pupil Premium Plus for children adopted from care, or who leave care under a special guardianship or residence order will be paid directly to schools.
From April 2014, maintained schools, non-maintained special schools and general hospital schools will attract the Pupil Premium for children:
- who left care under a Residential Order on or after 14 October 1991 (under the Children Act 1989);
- who left care under a Special Guardianship Order on or after 30 December 2005 (under the Children Act 1989);
- who were adopted from care on or after 30 December 2005 (under the Adoption and Children Act 2002);
- who are in Reception to Year 11;
- where the parent self-declares their child’s status to the school, providing supporting evidence (e.g. an adoption order); and
- where the school records on the January School Census that it has a child on roll who meets the above criteria.
Schools will receive funding for pupils who are recorded on the January School Census in the following financial year. For example, pupils recorded as adopted or post-LAC on the January 2014 School Census will qualify for premium funding from April 2014 to March 2015 (i.e. 2014-15 financial year).
Individual schools are responsible for the educational outcomes of children adopted from care/post-LAC on roll and therefore are best placed to decide how to use the Pupil Premium to support these pupils. Schools may wish to discuss the measures they are putting in place with the parents and guardians of the pupils concerned.
For 2014, parents and guardians needed to self-declare to the school their child is on roll at before 16 January to ensure that the school recorded them on the January 2014 Census. Schools will not necessarily be aware that they have adopted children and post-LAC on roll and so parents/guardians are encouraged to come forward, rather than relying on the school to approach them. Parents and guardians will be required to provide evidence to the school, such as their adoption order.
Parents and guardians will need to self-declare again if their child moves school. Parents and guardians will need to ensure that they self-declare to the new school before the next January School Census to ensure that the school can attract the Pupil Premium funding to which it is entitled.
You can find further information about the Pupil Premium on the Department for Education (DfE) website.
Rachael Thomas – Interim Virtual School Headteacher, Children in Care Room U34, City Hall College Green Bristol, BS1 5TR
- Email: Head.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Work: 0117 922 4779
- Fax: 0117 922 4778