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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.
Social workers should familiarise themselves with the DfE's stautory guidance produced in July 2014 Promoting the education of looked after children
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) or Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), the Admissions Section staff are the first people to speak to. If a child in care has a statement of SEN or EHCP, you need to speak to the special educational needs and disability (SEND) 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 18 school days a year for any reason before they reach what is called the persistent absence threshold? From the 2015/16 academic year, the DfE has changed the persistent absence measure to 90% (up from 85% previously). So if a young person achieves 89% attendance, he or she will be counted as a persistent absentee in terms of what the DfE reports.
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 consulted. Please contact Rachael Thomas on 0117 377 3056.
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.
Early Years LAC Pupil Premium
The government introduced an Early Years LAC Pupil Premium from 1 April 2015. Children in care aged three and four in the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) are eligible for Pupil Premium funding from the first day they come into care. Please note that four year olds in Reception are entitled to the main LAC Pupil Premium.
For the financial year 2015-16, each three and four year old child in care in the EYFS is entitled to up to £300, depending on the number of hours the child attends the setting.
For Bristol CiC in the EYFS, the funding will be passed to the Early Years Team in the authority where the child is attending a setting. We are working in partnership with each of those teams and will ensure that they know who is eligible for the Early Years LAC Pupil Premium.
Social workers and carers will want to ask the setting when you attend the PEP meeting how the Pupil Premium funding has been spent for the young person and what impact it has had. Early Years Pupil Premium will be given to mainstream settings, private, voluntary and independent (PVI) or special settings which Bristol looked after children mainly attend, both in Bristol and in other local authorities.
Early Years Pupil Premium money for CiC should be spent on those children in line with needs identified at the PEP.
As this is still a very new initiative, most LAs have not yet finalised plans and further developments are likely, so please look out for updated information on this page and via future editions of The HOPE Briefing or Newsletter.
The Department for Education has information on the Early years Pupil Premium at https://www.gov.uk/early-years-pupil-premium-guide-for-local-authorities#eypp-for-children-who-are-in-local-authority-care
LAC Pupil Premium for Year R to Year 11 pupils
From 1 April 2014, children and young people from Year R to Year 11 have been eligible for Pupil Premium funding from the first day they come into care. For the financial year, 2015-16 each eligible young person is entitled to £1900.
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. Pupil Premium money for CiC should be spent on those children in line with needs identified at the PEP.
The virtual head teacher is responsible for allocating Pupil Premium money to schools. You can read Bristol's Pupil Premium policy on the Guidance, policies and procedures page.
Information for social care staff about how Bristol City Council allocated its Pupil Premium for CiC in 2014-15 is available in this letter from Rachael Thomas (pdf, 81 KB)(opens new window).
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.
*In July 2014, the government announced that it would extend Pupil Premium funding to all children adopted from care and not just those adopted from care after 30 December 2005.
Schools receive funding for pupils recorded as adopted or post-LAC based on the January School Census in the following financial year. For example, pupils recorded as adopted or post-LAC on the January 2015 School Census will qualify for premium funding from April 2015 to March 2016 (i.e. 2015-16 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 was 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.
In 2014 the DfE also said that 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) web pages.
Rachael Thomas The HOPE, Bristol’s Virtual School for Children in Care 1 B Amercombe Walk Bristol, BS14 8AN
- Email: Head.firstname.lastname@example.org
- Work: 0117 377 3056
- Fax: 0117 377 3061