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3.5.1 Education of Looked After Children


  1. The Role of the Designated Teacher
  2. The Personal Educational Plan (PEP)
  3. Writing the PEP
  4. Avoidance of Disruption in Education
  5. The Role of the Virtual School
  6. Attendance Policy
  7. Exclusion Policy
  8. Year 6/7 Transition to Secondary School
  9. Role of Carers to Support Learning
  10. SEN Support and Partnership

1. The Role of the Designated Teacher

The Designated Teacher in a school is a qualified teacher, who is the named person responsible for supporting the educational attainment of children looked after in school. See the Role and Responsibilities of the Designated Teacher for Looked After Children: Statutory Guidance for School Governing Bodies (2009).

To this end the Designated Teacher must always be mindful of the personal circumstances of the Looked After Child which may make educational achievement more difficult for them than their classmates. The main components of the Designated Teacher's role are:

  • To work with other teachers to identify the Looked After Child's educational needs;
  • To take lead responsibility for the child's Personal Education Plan;
  • To have high expectations for the Looked After Child;
  • To ensure that the Looked After Child has access to extra learning support;
  • To be aware of the wider well being of the Looked After Child;
  • To work effectively with others, both inside and outside of the school, in supporting the Looked After Child's learning.

2. The Personal Educational Plan (PEP)

The Personal Education Plan is the part of the Looked After Child's overall Care Plan, which addresses his or her educational needs.

The Personal Education Plan should be initiated as part of the Care Plan before the child becomes Looked After (or within 10 working days in the case of an emergency placement), and be available for the first Looked After Review meeting.

The Care Plan as a whole divides the needs of the child up so the relevant professional can ensure the right care and support is available in their area of responsibility; including health, education, emotional and behavioural development, relationships and self-care.

In dealing with the educational needs of the child, the Designated Teacher has a central role. The Designated Teacher is able to use their position in the school to rigorously monitor, develop and review the educational progress of the Looked After Child. The Personal Educational Plan provides the means by which these activities are recorded.

3. Writing the PEP

The social worker is responsible for coordinating and compiling the PEP. (See also PEP Guidance.)

The social worker, on behalf of the local authority, has overall responsibility for setting up and maintaining the Personal Educational Plan. The social worker should contact the Designated Teacher to set up the initial education planning meeting after meeting the child admitted into care.

In practice, compiling the Personal Educational Plan will be a collaborative effort, between school staff, local authority professionals, carers and the looked after child.

The PEP should set clear objectives and targets for the child, covering the following:

  • An achievement record (academic or otherwise);Chronology of education and training history which provides a record of the child's educational experience and progress in terms of National Curriculum levels of attainment, including information about educational institutions attended and the reasons for leaving, attendance and conduct record, academic and other achievements, any special educational needs, an indication of the extent to which the child's education has been disrupted before entering care or accommodation;
  • Developmental or educational needs;
  • Existing arrangements for education and training, including details of any special educational provision and any other provision to meet the child's educational or training needs and promote educational achievement;
  • Short term targets; Any planned changes to existing arrangements and provision to minimise disruption;
  • The child's leisure interests;
  • Long term plans and aspirations;
  • Role of the appropriate person and any other person who cares for the child in promoting the child's educational achievements and leisure interests.

The purpose of the PEP meeting is to agree the child's PEP - this should be completed as part of the child's Care Plan within 10 working days of the child's first placement and therefore in time for the child's first Looked After Review.

The social worker will convene a meeting to review the PEP four weeks before the child's second Looked After Review, and thereafter four weeks before every subsequent Looked After Review. The meetings will involve the child, parents, carers and Designated Teacher, Class Teacher or Head Teacher.

The meeting will review the PEP and its targets and develop new targets and objectives as appropriate, and agree a report for the next Looked After Review.

The PEP should also be revised as necessary whenever the child has a change of placement or change of school.

All PEP meetings should be recorded on Mosaic within 15 working days of the meeting.

4. Avoidance of Disruption in Education

The Nominated Officer - in Southwark this is the Virtual Head Teacher - must approve of any change of placement affecting a child in Key Stage 4, except in an emergency/where the placement is terminated because of an immediate risk of serious harm to the child or to protect others from serious injury.

In those circumstances, the Local Authority must make appropriate arrangements to promote the child's educational achievement as soon as reasonably practicable:

  • The child's wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
  • The wishes and feelings of the parent(s) have been ascertained where the child is accommodated (where possible) and where appropriate where the child is subject to a Care Order;
  • The educational provision will promote educational achievement and is consistent with the PEP;
  • The Independent Reviewing Officer has been consulted;
  • The Designated Teacher at the child's school has been consulted.

Other than in Key Stage 4, where the Local Authority proposes making any change to the child's placement that would have the effect of disrupting the arrangements made for education and training, they must ensure that other arrangements are made for education or training that meet the child's needs and are consistent with the PEP.

5. The Role of the Virtual School

See Role and Responsibilities of the Virtual Headteacher Procedure

The core purpose of the Virtual Headteacher is to drive improvements in the educational progress and attainment of all Looked After Children (LAC), including those that have been placed in schools in other Local Authority areas. The Virtual head teacher also has an important role in working in partnership with Virtual Headteachers in other Local Authorities to support the educational progress of children who are in their schools but looked after by other Local Authorities. Because LAC are being educated across a large number of schools, the Virtual Headteacher has a powerful role in tracking their progress as if they were in a single school.

6. Attendance Policy

The carer must notify the school and the social worker immediately if the child is too ill to attend school or for any reason does not attend school.

In addition, where the school advises the carer that the child is absent, the carer must immediately notify the social worker.

Where necessary, CLA Attendance Procedure (see Attendance Policy) will be followed.

In any case where the child has been absent from school for more than 10 days, the social worker should liaise with the Designated Teacher, the child, parents and carers regarding any further action, which is required to address the child's missed schooling.

7. Exclusion Policy

Due to the instability that Looked After Children face, both prior to coming into care and whilst in care, they can be more vulnerable to emotional and behavioural difficulties which could result in them being subject to fixed term or permanent exclusions. Looked After Children are roughly four times more likely to get permanently excluded than the national average due to a broad combination of other factors e.g. poor relationships with teachers and classmates and disengagement from learning (see Exclusion Guidance for CLA). The Virtual school can assist in appealing unlawful exclusions, and ensuring appropriate support is put into place to avoid Looked After Children being subject to exclusions.

8. Year 6/7 Transition to Secondary School

The change from primary to secondary school is a major transition for any child but it is particularly critical for Looked After Children. Looked After Children have been subject to much change, school or placement, which has often led to trauma. Change needs to be planned in order for the transition to another educational establishment to be smooth.

We work in close liaison with Southwark Admissions and other out of borough SEN departments to ensure Looked After Children are subject to well-planned school moves.

9. Role of Carers to Support Learning

The strength of the relationship between the Designated Teacher and the child's carer can be the most significant in raising educational attainment. The more informed both parties are about the child's needs and progress in education, the more relevant and targeted the support to the Looked After Child. The foster carer is key to supporting increased educational attainment for Looked After Children as they are best placed to support homework and to provide additional educational stimulation outside of school - see the Education of LAC Guidance, Responsibilities of Carers Concerning the Promotion of Education.

10. SEN Support and Partnership

Looked After children are more likely to have special educational needs than their peers - the figure is 28% compared to 3% of all children - see Breaking the Link between Special Educational Needs and Low Attainment: Everyone's Business. (DCSF (2010).

The number of Looked After Children classed as requiring extra support sheds some light on the poor educational attainment figures; children with special educational needs are over three times less likely to achieve five GCSE's, including English and Maths, than their peers.

In recognition of this, the CLA Education Team work closely with Southwark SEN department and liaise over planning for appropriate educational provision and SEN funding e.g. for statements, for CLA in and out of borough. (There is further information about inclusion and special needs guidance on the Southwark intranet.)