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School attendance and exclusions of children in care for social care staff

School attendance and exclusions of children in care for social care staff

What you can do to improve attendance, holidays in term time, exclusions and reduced timetables.

School attendance

Why attendance matters

It’s very important that children and young people in care go to school or their education setting every day. Good attendance helps them do well in their education.

If pupils are absent a lot they may fall behind with their school work and do less well in exams. According to the Department for Education (DfE), 17 days absent in a school year can mean a drop in a GCSE grade in all subjects.

Students who attend school regularly could be at less risk of getting involved in antisocial or risky behaviour. Good attendance, including arriving on time, also shows potential employers that a young person is reliable.

The HOPE monitors attendance and exclusions of all our young people in care. We must also report to the DfE any of our pupils who miss 19 or more school days a year for any reason. Young people who miss 19 days of school or more are seen as being persistently absent. 19 days is the same as missing 38 sessions, or having 4 weeks off in term time during the school year.

What you can do to improve attendance

To help a child or young person go to their education setting every day:

  • make sure they can get there
  • make sure the foster carer understands that the child must go to school
  • tell the school about the child’s behaviour so the school can help: for example, establish a code word if the child feels anxious and needs space
  • tell the school about changes that may affect the child’s life, or make sure the carer knows to do so
  • make sure the carer knows to tell the school if the child can’t attend
  • try not to change a child’s care placement, which could mean a change of school
  • have a transfer plan when a child moves from primary to secondary school
  • make sure planned moves outside the usual transfer times, such as from primary to secondary school, happen at the start of term, as mid-term moves can be even more disruptive
  • discuss the child’s attendance at each Personal Education Plan meeting, and follow up on any issues
  • talk about attendance at every supervision meeting with the child’s carer
  • discuss the child’s attendance record at the carer’s review

The HOPE sends attendance data to social care managers each term on young people in care:

  • whose attendance is 95% and above
  • whose attendance is less than 90%
  • who have had a fixed term exclusion

You should review this data every term for all the children and young people you’re responsible for.

Holidays in term time

Children must not have holidays during term time unless there are exceptional circumstances.

If you get a request from a carer for a holiday in term time, you must do an Absence Request form. You must do the request at least 4 weeks before the proposed absence.

We won't consider a holiday request if a child's attendance for the last term is below 94%, unless it's for compassionate reasons such as a bereavement.

You must get permission from:

  • the relevant Practice Lead or Service Manager
  • the Head of Permanency and Specialist Services
  • The HOPE headteacher
  • the school's headteacher

Exclusions

Children in care are more likely to be excluded from school. There are many reasons for this, including previous trauma, moving schools or care placements a lot and having complex needs.

Education settings must follow statutory school exclusion government guidance if they want to exclude a child in care.

This includes:

  • working with you, the carer and The HOPE to avoid an exclusion
  • having strategies to reduce the need for exclusion: permanent exclusion should be a last resort
  • talking to us about other education settings a child can go to from the first day of their exclusion

Contact The HOPE lead for the young person if:

  • they’re at risk of exclusion
  • they are excluded

Reduced timetables

Sometimes an education setting may consider putting a child onto a reduced or part time timetable. This shouldn’t happen often because all children in care should be in full time education in line with government guidelines.

If a school suggests a reduced timetable for a child you’re responsible for, make sure the setting has contacted the lead person for the child at The HOPE. Settings must talk to us before making a significant change to a timetable.

We’ll have a meeting to see if we can agree to a reduced timetable. You and the young person’s carer must come. At the meeting we’ll do a reintegration plan and review form.

See our reintegration plan flowchart so that you understand the process.

If we agree on a reduced timetable, the setting should hold a review meeting about the new timetable within 6 weeks, and then every 6 weeks until the pupil returns to full time provision.