Information for social care staff about designated teachers, how to support children with SEND, extra funding for children in care and how to support post 16 young people.

Social care staff have an important role in supporting the education of children in care, whether you're the:

  • social worker for the child
  • carer's supervising social worker

You should stay in touch with the young person's education setting, and tell them about any changes for the young person.

You should read the Department for Education's statutory guidance on promoting the education of looked after children Go to (opens new window).

Designated teacher for children in care

All maintained schools and academies must have a designated teacher (DT) for children in care Go to (opens new window).

The DT helps to ensure that each young person in care does the best they can in their education. Ask the school or The HOPE who the DT for children in care is. You should talk to the DT about the young person's education, including any problems.

What children learn at school

Many education settings in England follow the National Curriculum. Academies and private schools don't have to teach the National Curriculum.

What the young person learns depends on their age. The Guide to the National Curriculum Go to (opens new window) explains the subjects and tests for each age group.

Pupil Premium funding

Pupil Premium is extra funding from the government in England for some children and young people. Children in care who go to state schools are eligible for Pupil Premium.

Talk to the designated teacher about how the Pupil Premium will be spent. It should be spent on things that have been identified as important in the child's Personal Education Plan meeting. Also talk to the setting about what difference the funding has made to the child once it has been spent.

Find out more about education funding for children in care.

Children with special educational needs and disabilities

You should talk to the child's education setting about all aspects of the child's education, including any special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). In many cases, the school will already know about the child's needs. If you think there's something the school doesn't know about, talk to the designated teacher for children in care or the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Co-ordinator (SENDCo).

The young person may:

You can also speak to the member of staff at The HOPE who is the lead contact for the child, or The HOPE's SENDCo, Rebecca Harrison. Contact The HOPE. We work closely with Bristol's SEND team to meet the educational needs of our young people in care.

Top Up funding for children with SEND

Top Up funding meets a child in care's additional needs. The school must show that the level of special educational provision needed for the child is more than and different from resources and support generally available in mainstream education settings. The school will be able to show this using a detailed costed provision map which will go to Bristol City Council's SEND team for approval.

Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans

An EHC plan is for young people who have significant educational needs. The plan coordinates their educational, health and social needs and sets out any extra support they may need. Find out more on Bristol's SEND Local Offer.

Post 16

Choices for post 16 students

After Year 11, students in England must:

  • stay in full time education
  • start an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • spend 20 hours or more a week working or volunteering, while in part time education or training

There are different arrangements Go to (opens new window) for students in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Schools and education settings should tell young people about their post 16 options. This includes:

  • helping them choose the right course and further education setting
  • finding an apprenticeship or traineeship
  • suggesting work or volunteering opportunities

The HOPE can also help young people decide which option is best for them. Young people over the age of 16 can get support with their education from The HOPE if they're still involved with social care, or up to the age of 25 if they have an EHC plan.

Who to contact

There are lots of options to choose from, whether the young person is staying in education or going on to training.

Who to contact if a young person has problems on their course or at college

Encourage the young person to speak to their course tutor, or you or their carer can do this if they don't want to. The young person or you can also speak to:

  • any other support workers at their college
  • learner support services (sometimes called student wellbeing)
  • The HOPE

What happens if the young person wants to leave or change their course

If it's within the first month of the course, the young person may be able to change to another course. The young person, you or their carer should speak to their tutor about Swap don't drop'. If not, speak to the tutor before doing anything so the young person understands their options.

What to do if the young person is taken off their course

The young person or you can contact The HOPE to talk about what to do next. Try to do this as soon as possible. All colleges have an appeals procedure which you can find on their website. Search for disciplinary procedure'.

16 to 19 Bursary Fund

The 16 to 19 Bursary Fund is up to £1,200 per year. It helps students who are in care or are care leavers to stay in education.

The funding is available to young people aged 16, 17 or 18 at the start of their course. The student must meet their education provider's attendance requirements to get it.

The young person should apply for the bursary through their school or college. The young person's social worker or The HOPE must give evidence that the student is in the care of the local authority.

Find out more about education funding for children in care.

Apprenticeship funding

Care leavers doing an apprenticeship can get a one off payment of £1,000. The training provider pays this to the apprentice. Contact The HOPE if you have questions about this.

GOV.UK has guidance on the care leaver bursary for apprentices Go to (opens new window).

Higher education choices

Talk to The HOPE or the young person's school, college or training provider for support and guidance on finding a higher education course.

Tell the young person about our higher education information.

Free meals for post 16 students

Some post 16 young people in care may be entitled to free meals Go to (opens new window).

Home to school travel

Bristol City Council's Home to School Travel team support young people to be independent in their home to school travel. Find out about home to school support, including travel training tips for parents and carers.

pdf Bristol City Council's Home to School Travel policy (80 KB) has a section about children in care.

Bristol City Council also has a pdf School Travel Policy statement (117 KB)  for students who have SEND and are in post 16 education.


Education settings have a statutory duty to safeguard children and young people. Schools have a designated safeguarding lead and you should know who that person is and how to contact them.

Trips with The HOPE for children and young people

The HOPE organises trips and activities to encourage our young people to think about going to university. We must have consent for any of our young people to come on any trips we organise. This is separate from any consents the young person's school may need.

The person with parental responsibility must complete the document consent form (44 KB) . This is often the social worker or team manager.

You must send the signed consent form to The HOPE.

How The HOPE can support you

If you want to discuss anything to do with the education of a child in care, call us on 0117 903 6282 between 9am and 4.30pm in term time. Ask to speak to the person who deals with the relevant year group.

We also offer training for Bristol social care staff on supporting the education of children in care.

Other sources of information and support

Department for Education Go to (opens new window) on GOV.UK.

Bristol City Council has local and national guidance and policy documents about the education of children in care.

Contact us

Call: 0117 903 6282
Write: The HOPE Virtual School (CH), PO Box 3399, Bristol, BS3 9NE

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