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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 Pippa John email@example.com.
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.
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.
You can find further information about the Pupil Premium on the Department for Education (DfE) website.
Pippa John - Virtual School Headteacher, Children in Care Room U34, City Hall College Green Bristol, BS1 5TR
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Work: 0117 922 4779
- Fax: 0117 922 4778