How carers can support children in care with their education

How carers can support children in care with their education

What is a carer

A carer of a child in care or a care leaver can be:

  • a foster carer
  • a kinship carer, such as grandparents or other members of the child’s family
  • people who work in a residential care unit

A few young people in care live with their parent/s.

Most of our young people in care live with foster carers, so we usually use the term ‘foster child’ when we refer to them. This information is for all carers though.

How you can support your foster child’s education

Coronavirus (COVID- 19): resources for carers

We’ve collated some resources to support carers (pdf, 240KB) (opens new window) . They include websites that offer tips on looking after yourself and talking to your young person about coronavirus, ideas for games and activities and some educational resources across different key stages.

How you can support your foster child

Your role in your foster child's education is important. To support them you should:

  • make sure they attend school every day and support them to get there
  • talk to them about what they like and dislike about school
  • talk to them about what their hopes are for the future, such as what job they hope to do, and go to careers events with them
  • listen to them read for at least 10 minutes every day, especially when they’re at primary school: why reading helps pupils at maths
  • encourage them to join after school or sports clubs
  • go to workshops or information sessions on topics such as Year 6 SATs and Year 9 option choices
  • go to as many special events as you can such as sports days, plays, and school trips
  • make sure they have resources at home such as books and computers and that they know how to use the internet safely
  • praise them whenever possible: for being helpful, for having good attendance, for a good piece of work
  • go to and contribute to their Personal Education Plan (PEP) meeting
  • go to and contribute to parents’/carers’ meetings

Support from your social worker or education setting

Your foster child’s social worker or education setting will be able to tell you:

  • who is the designated teacher at school
  • who are the child’s form tutor, head of year, class teacher and designated safeguarding lead
  • what the young person’s timetable is
  • when their parents’ or carers’ meetings are
  • when the young person’s next PEP meeting is
  • what after school and lunchtime activities are available
  • who is the named governor for children in care

You should check the education setting’s website for rules and policies such as term dates, uniform, sports kit, homework, child protection, behaviour, attendance and bullying. There may also be school online systems that you or your foster child will need to access, for example to pay for school dinners or to check any homework set and whether your foster child has done it.

If you’d like to go on any training about education, speak to your supervising social worker.

Designated teachers

All maintained schools and academies will have a designated teacher for children in care. Their job is to make sure foster children do well in their education, so they’re a good person to talk to about any problems.

The Department for Education has published guidance about what a designated teacher for children in care needs to do.

Regular contact with your foster child’s education setting or school

Talk to the school on a regular basis about:

  • your foster child’s progress
  • any extra support they’re getting such as one to one tuition, or support for their special educational needs or disability
  • any support you can give them at home
  • how they’re being taught reading, writing and English and numeracy or maths
  • any issues at home that could affect your foster child’s behaviour at school

What your foster child will learn

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

What your foster child will be learning will depend on their age. The Guide to the National Curriculum explains the subjects and tests for each age group.

If your foster child has special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

In most cases, your foster child’s school or education setting will know about any SEND needs.

If you think your foster child may have some form of SEND that the school doesn’t know about, talk to the designated teacher or Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Co-ordinator (SENDCo).

You can also speak to your contact at The HOPE, or our SENDCo, Rebecca Harrison. We work closely with Bristol’s SEND team to meet the educational needs of our young people in care.

Your foster child may:

  • get extra support in class
  • be given a specific plan setting out what the child needs to learn and how their needs will be met, such as Individual Education Plan
  • receive Top Up funding for meeting additional needs. A school will need to demonstrate the level of special educational provision needed for a CiC, which is in addition to and different from resources and support generally available in mainstream education settings. The setting will be able to show this using a detailed costed provision map which will go to SEN for approval
  • be assessed for an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). An EHCP is for young people who have significant educational needs. It coordinates the child's educational, health and social needs and sets out any additional support they may need

You can find more information about SEND on Bristol’s Local Offer website.


Children and young people in care can be very vulnerable and may need extra support to keep them safe. Each child is individual and will have different strengths and difficulties. Being aware of the risks your foster child may face or may pose is an important part of the safeguarding process.

If you have any safeguarding concerns about your foster child, speak to your supervising social worker, the child’s social worker or the child’s education setting as soon as you become concerned. You should also speak to your supervising social worker if you have a safeguarding concern about any member of your family.

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.

You can also contact The HOPE’s Designated Safeguarding Lead, Leanne Bishop, on 0117 903 6282.

Talk to your supervising social worker about making sure your safeguarding training is up to date.

Keeping Bristol Safe Partnership.

Child protection

Our child protection pages have information on safeguarding for a range of people, including professionals.

The South West Child Protection Procedures has information on the Bristol Safeguarding Partnership.

Home to school travel

Your foster child may be eligible for home to school travel support. Bristol City Council’s Home to School Travel policy has a section about children in care.

Support for residential carers

A small number of young people live in residential children’s homes.

The residential unit guidelines have guidance for residential units on promoting education.

Other sources of information and support

Department for Education for the government’s guidance on all education matters.

Foster with Bristol offers support and training for Bristol’s foster carers.

Websites providing education resources for young people (pdf, 34KB) (opens new window) .

Our Guidance, policies and procedures page has information on national and Bristol guidance documents.

Support from The HOPE

We can help you support the education of your foster child. We organise projects and activities, we attend as many PEP meetings as possible and we can talk to you about any concerns you or your foster child have about their education.

Call us on 0117 903 6282 between 9am and 4.30pm in term time. Some staff won’t be available out of term time, but we’ll do all we can to help.