Previously looked after children: information and advice for schools and education settings

Previously looked after children: information and advice for schools and education settings

Guidance for education providers of children who were previously looked after. Includes information about Pupil Premium Plus and Personal Education Plans

What we mean by children who were previously looked after

Those children previously looked after in England and Wales but who left care through:

  • an Adoption Order (AO)
  • Special Guardianship Order (SGO)
  • Child Arrangements Order (CAO)
  • or has been adopted from ‘state care’ outside England and Wales

CAOs were formerly known as Residence Orders. The Orders must still be current. 

Statutory duty and guidance

Schools and education settings have a statutory duty to support previously looked after children. The statutory duty applies to children from aged two in a funded education place up to post 16 who are educated in a maintained school or academy.

Local authorities have a statutory duty to provide information and advice about previously looked after children from aged two in a funded education place to the end of Year 11 who are educated in a maintained school or academy.

Maintained schools and academies must have a designated teacher responsible for previously looked after children.

Guidance for maintained schools and academies

Designated teacher for looked after and previously looked-after children on GOV.UK

Guidance for local authorities

Promoting the education of looked after and previously looked-after children on GOV.UK

Pupil Premium Plus

Previously looked after children in Reception to Year 11 are entitled to Pupil Premium Plus. This is extra funding of £2,300. Adopted children are only entitled to Pupil Premium Plus funding if, on leaving care, they were adopted from an English or Welsh local authority.

The parent, guardian or carer has to declare the child’s status and provide appropriate supporting evidence to the school. Information about the funding, what documents education settings need to see and what codes need to be used are given in the following two documents:

Pupil Premium 2018-19: conditions of grant on GOV.UK

School census 2017 to 2018: Page 89 lists the codes to use for previously looked after children on GOV.UK

Unique Pupil Number

It is standard practice for children adopted from care to be issued with a new Unique Pupil Number (UPN) to break the link between the pre-adoption and post-adoption record. Page 13 of the Unique Pupil Numbers guidance on GOV.UK gives guidance about a new UPN for adopted children.

How you promote educational achievement

You may find the following publication a helpful starting point.

Meeting the needs of adopted and permanently placed children: A guide for school staff on PAC UK

Personal Education Plans (PEP)

There’s no statutory requirement for a PEP for previously looked after children. However, you should have regular meetings with the child and their parents, guardians or carers to:

  • discuss the child’s educational strengths and needs
  • record all agreed actions

Meetings with parents, guardians and carers of previously looked after children could be recorded on these forms:

Other advice and information

Special educational needs

Wellbeing and mental health

  • Catchpoint Bristol: support for school staff dealing with trauma to build strong attachments 
  • Kate Cairns Associates: training and consultancy on trauma and attachment issues for education settings from Early Years upwards
  • Off the record: mental health information and training for education staff
  • Theraplay: child and family therapy to develop attachment, self-esteem and trust. Schools may want to advise parents/guardians/carers on how to find a Theraplay practitioner or attend Theraplay training.
  • TouchBase Bristol – therapy service for school staff working with children who have trauma
  • Young Minds – national organisation focussing on children’s and young people’s mental health. Offers workshops, training and resources for schools
  • Inner World Work : free resources for schools and adults involved with children living with trauma 
  • Beacon House: specialist trauma and attachment service for children and adults. Runs training and events for professionals and has some free resources online 
  • Thinking Allowed: Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
  • Trauma Informed Education: aims to make sure children and young people who have experienced trauma and loss have access to appropriate support in schools 

Adoption support

  • Adoption UK: national charity providing support and information for adoptive families and resources for schools
  • Coram BAAF:  organisation providing information, resources and training to agencies, individuals and professionals on matters relating to adoption. Some services are for members only.
  • Adoption Support Centre:  runs workshops and training for professionals, therapy and support
  • PAC UK: information and advice about previously looked after children for education settings

Books and resources

Books and resources for education settings working with  previously looked after children (pdf, 145KB) (opens new window)

The Virtual School Head is responsible for providing information and advice for previously looked after children. Contact