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School places and admissions for children in care: a guide for social workers

School places and admissions for children in care: a guide for social workers

Change in a child's education setting or where they live

You must contact us if you're thinking about changing a child's education setting. Only those with parental responsibility for the child can do this. Carers can't apply for a school place.

If a child has to move home, try to make sure this doesn’t disrupt their education. The Department for Education’s statutory guidance for local authorities says the child’s social worker must do everything possible to minimise disruption to their education, particularly at key stage 4 (KS4).

If a young person needs to move schools in KS4 you must get agreement from:

  • The HOPE headteacher
  • the local authority’s Director of Children and Families (The HOPE or your manager will tell you who this is and how to contact them)

See the key points from statutory guidance about changing an education placement (word doc, 359KB) (opens new window) .

When a child in care goes to a new education setting

If a child in care has started a new school, you must tell the school’s designated teacher (DT) and give them a copy of the child’s latest Personal Education Plan (PEP).

You must tell the DT:

  • the child’s age, care status and address
  • the child’s carer’s name, phone number and email address
  • your name, address, phone number and email address
  • the child’s school history
  • the child’s emergency contact and medical information
  • if a child with SEND has an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan or if they’re having their SEND met through school support
  • about any support issues, such as access needs due to disability
  • their current attainment for maths and English, and GCSE subjects if the child is in Year 10 or 11
  • who has parental responsibility for the child and any contact restrictions
  • contact details for the child’s lead staff member at The HOPE (name, work address and phone number and email)

You must also arrange a Personal Education Plan meeting as soon as possible.

How to apply for a school place for a child in care

We’ll work with you, other local authority staff and the child’s carer to try to find a child in care a suitable school place.

We always aim to get a full time place in an education setting that’s rated ‘good ‘or ‘better’ by Ofsted.

If you’re the social worker for a child in care (CiC), you must apply for an education place for them. Only those with parental responsibility for the child can do this. Carers can’t apply for a school place.

You must always use the foster carer’s home address as the child’s home address, whether the child is:

  • Section 20
  • on a Care Order
  • on an Interim Care Order

Schools that manage their own admissions

Some schools, such as academies and voluntary aided schools, manage their own admissions. In these cases, you must apply directly to the school.

Bristol City Council has information about school admission arrangements, including which schools manage their own admissions. Check the school name and the year you’re applying for, because the arrangements can change each year.

If the school has its own admission arrangements:

The school admissions team and The HOPE will track the child’s application to make sure they’re placed quickly.

Schools that don't manage their own admissions

Check the school admission arrangements for the school name and the year you’re applying for, because the arrangements can change each year.

If the school uses Bristol City Council’s admissions arrangements, apply online for a place.

What happens if a school refuses to admit a child in care (CiC)

The School Admissions Code says schools must admit a CiC even if the school is oversubscribed. If a school refuses to admit a CiC the admission authority can make the school admit them, or start the appeals process with an independent school appeals panel.

The School Admissions Code also says that the local authority (LA) has the power to direct all council-run schools to take a CiC regardless of which LA the school or child is in. If a school refuses to take a CiC, the social worker must email Bristol's school admissions team on school.admissions@bristol.gov.uk.

If the school is an academy, Bristol’s school admissions lead will work with the admissions manager to admit the child voluntarily if the academy is full. The Secretary of State may become involved if the academy refuses to admit the child.

No child in care should be without a school place for more than 20 days.

In year admissions

In year admissions are when a young person moves to a new school during the school year.

The process for in year admissions is the same as for normal admissions. Follow the How to apply for a school place for a child in care guidance.

Early years admissions

Early years admissions for 2 to 4 year olds

If a child in care is 2 years old you can apply for a free early education place.

If the child is 3 or 4 years old they can get 570 hours of free early education or childcare per year.

How to find an early years education setting

Before you choose an early years setting:

You could also look at an individual school’s website and arrange a visit.

Reception admissions

Check the admissions process for children in care starting Reception. Find this on the local authority’s schools admissions website. If the child lives in Bristol:

The person with parental responsibility for the child must do the application. Carers can’t apply for a school place. The application deadline is 15 January in the year the child starts Reception. Try to apply before the end of December to be in good time for the January deadline.

If you have questions:

Secondary school admissions

The person with parental responsibility for the child must do the application. Carers can’t apply for a school place.

You must apply by 31 October of the year before the child starts secondary school. The deadline often falls during the school holidays, so try to apply before the holidays start.

All children in care will get a place at their first choice if the school gets the application on time. If you don’t apply by 31 October, you might not get your first choice.

Find out more about Bristol secondary school admissions.

Apply for a Bristol school place.

If you have questions:

What to do when a child transfers from primary to secondary school

As well as applying for the school place, you must:

  • arrange a PEP meeting at the primary school in May or June of Year 6, and invite the designated teachers from the primary and secondary school
  • find out how the child feels about moving schools and what support they’d like
  • make sure the child’s concerns are addressed at the meeting
  • understand the support in place for the child
  • make sure the child knows who the key people are at their new school, such as the designated teacher, Head of Year and their learning mentor
  • set a date at the meeting for a PEP meeting early on in Year 7

Admissions outside of key stage transfers

The usual key stage school transfers are from:

  • early years to primary school
  • primary school to secondary school

Sometimes a child has to change schools outside of these times.

For a Bristol school place, see Apply for a school place for a child in care.

If you have questions:

If a child or young person needs to move to a new school outside of Bristol, you must check the new local authority’s website for their school admissions process. If you need help with this, contact The HOPE.

You should also email Bristol City Council’s school admissions team on school.admissions@bristol.gov.uk to tell them you have submitted a child in care admissions form. The team can then oversee the process.

Admissions process for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)

Children and young people with an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan have their school place agreed outside the standard admissions process. See Admissions for children with Special Educational Needs.

If a child in care has an EHC plan and they need to change schools, you must raise this at an annual review meeting.

If a child's address changes or they move to a different education setting

You must tell Bristol City Council’s SEND inclusion officer as soon as a child moves to a different home, or you think a child is going to move.

You must also tell the SEND inclusion officer:

  • the child’s new home address
  • the child’s new host local authority, if not Bristol City Council
  • if the new home is an independent fostering agency (IFA) or Bristol City Council carer, or a children’s home
  • if the young person’s care status has changed

If the child needs to move to a different education setting, you must speak to Bristol City Council’s SEND Inclusion Officer first. They will consult an appropriate education provider. This can take up to 15 working days.

Newly arrived unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) with no educational provision

There are statutory timescales around securing school places for children in care. If you’re the social worker for an unaccompanied asylum seeking child, contact The HOPE within two working days of the child coming into care. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can find a school place for the child.

You should contact:

How to apply for a Bristol school place if you work for a different local authority

If a child being looked after by another local authority needs a place in a Bristol school, you'll need to apply through the Bristol school admissions team. Contact them on:

The HOPE can support you with this process. Contact The HOPE.

We can:

  • tell you about local schools
  • talk to you about the child's needs
  • support your school admission application to help the young person start as soon as possible
  • possibly attend a Personal Education Plan (PEP) meeting if no education representative from your council is available

You must:

  • give us the child’s details
  • provide all relevant information about the child to support their education, including previous PEPs
  • tell the school’s designated teacher (DT) for children in care and ensure they receive a copy of the latest PEP
  • put us in touch with someone from the child’s home local authority for ongoing contact
  • allocate the Pupil Premium and other resources the school might have