Education of Children Looked After and Previously Looked After
SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This chapter applies to all Children Looked After, and Previously Looked After. It should be read in conjunction with the following government guidance documents:
Keeping Children Safe in Education (DfE) (All staff in a school or college should read Part One of the guidance)
Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years: Statutory Guidance for Organisations who work with and Support Children and Young People with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (DfE)
Data Protection: A Toolkit for Schools
This guidance draws attention to the link between data protection and child protection (although data protection is broader than just child protection) and notes that personal data can relate to pupils, staff, parents and potentially others. It makes clear that UK GDPR does not prevent, or limit, the sharing of information for the purposes of keeping children safe.
- The Role of the Virtual School Procedure;
- Personal Education Plans Procedure;
- Change of School Placement Procedure;
- Children and Young People Aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities;
- Consent for Absence from School.
For a summary of the permissions and forms that must be completed in relation to this chapter, please see the Permissions List.
|IMPORTANT NOTE: in line with guidance "Keeping Children Safe in Education" the term "must" in this chapter is for when the person in question is legally required to do something and the term "should" is used when the advice set out should be followed unless there is good reason not to.|
1. Duty to Promote the Educational Achievement of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children
Under sections 22 (3A) and 23ZZA of the Children Act 1989 (as amended by Section 4 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017), local authorities have a specific duty to promote the educational achievement of Looked After, Eligible and Previously Looked After children. Section 99 of the Children and Families Act 2014 imposes a requirement for an officer to be appointed to discharge this duty – sometimes referred to as a 'Virtual School Head' (VSH).
Unaccompanied Migrant Children
Unaccompanied migrant children looked after by the local authority are entitled to the same local authority support as any other Child Looked After; to have a safe and stable placement; to receive the care that they need to thrive; and the support they need to fulfil their educational and other outcomes. Some unaccompanied children who have recently arrived in the country may never have had access to education before.
Appropriate education for unaccompanied children may include a period of time in a setting where their full educational needs can be assessed and integrated into the Personal Education Plan (PEP). They may need time to be prepared for and then become used to formal education, and their initial educational outcomes may include cultural orientation and life skills appropriate to their age. Virtual School Heads, Independent Reviewing Officers, school admission officers and Special Educational Needs departments should work together to ensure that appropriate education provision for the child is arranged at the same time as a placement.
The local authority should ensure robust procedures are in place to monitor educational progress. This includes securing a culture of commitment to promoting the highest possible educational outcomes for unaccompanied children or child victims of modern slavery. Achieving and implementing the above should be monitored by a senior manager, such as the VSH, who is responsible for making sure their local authority promotes the educational achievement of its Looked- After and
Promoting the Educational Achievement of Previously Looked After Children
Previously Looked After Children are those children who are no longer looked after in England and Wales because they are:
The subject of an adoption, special guardianship or child arrangements order which includes arrangements relating to with whom the child is to live, or when the child is to live with any person, or has been adopted from 'state care' outside England and Wales.
Local authorities have a duty under section 23ZZA of the Children Act 1989 (inserted by section 4 of the Children and Social Work Act 2017) to promote the educational achievement of Previously Looked -After Children in their area by providing information and advice to:
- Any person who has Parental Responsibility for the child;
- Providers of funded early years education, Designated Teachers for Looked After and Previously Looked After Children in maintained schools and academies; and
- Any other person the authority considers appropriate for promoting the educational achievement of relevant children.
The duty applies to children who are in early years' provision (secured by the local authority under section 7(1) of the Childcare Act 2006) and continues throughout the compulsory years of education where the child is in provision funded in part or in full by the state.Governing bodies of schools and colleges must appoint a Designated Teacher to promote the educational achievement of children who are Looked After and Previously Looked After and to ensure that this person has appropriate training.
Children Looked After have a history of poor educational achievement. They are more likely to be non-school attenders and more likely to be excluded.
As a consequence, staff in schools and in Children's Social Care may have low expectations of Children who are Looked After. Often their poor levels of achievement and behaviour are excused on the grounds of their pre-care and in care experiences.
However, research over the past few years has identified that the reasons for this low achievement are actually more to do with discrimination and institutional failure.
Children and young people with high numbers of placement moves are particularly vulnerable, since these moves often involve changes in schools, and entail periods out of school altogether. There is a strong correlation between poor school performance and multiple moves, and children and young people need extra support to help compensate for this disadvantage.
Children and young people in the first 6 months of being looked after also record poor performances. Again, disruption of schooling plays a significant part in this. For some children and young people, school problems such as exclusion may have been a contributory factor in their admission to care. They may have already missed important areas of the curriculum. It must be a top priority to resolve this situation.
Children and young people in residential care have the highest risk of poor educational achievement because they tend to fall into these two most disadvantaged groups.
Moreover, these children and young people are missing out on much more than just an education. For Children Looked After, school can be a vital link to the outside world, where they are just like other children and young people, where they have stable friendships and familiar adults. Children and young people who miss school also miss out on health care, careers advice, health promotion advice and social education.
Full participation in all school activities is essential for Children Looked After in order to help them overcome their disadvantage. It is a guiding principle that our children should take up all school trips and extra school activities that are offered to them.
Some children and young people, however, experience considerable difficulties at school. They can suffer discrimination and bullying because they are looked after. Approximately one-quarter of Children Looked After are disabled, and many have special educational needs. They can suffer discrimination and bullying because they are looked after.
Schools attended by Children Looked After and Previously Looked After Children must be registered with the DfE. OFSTED’s Chief Inspector has stressed the importance of ensuring that all placements of Children Looked After are made with due diligence. Before any placement, the local authority should carry out all necessary checks to make certain that schools are registered as required with the Department for Education.Carers have a crucial part to play in ensuring children and young people get the education they deserve by providing them with the help, support and encouragement that a good parent would provide.
3. The Personal Education Plan (PEP) for Children Looked After
The Personal Education Plan (PEP) allows the social worker, residential staff/carer Virtual School and Designated Teacher at the child's school or, where the child has no school place, the Virtual School and in conjunction with the child, to set out what needs to happen to meet the educational needs of the child.
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 and all subsequent Reviews.
All Children Looked After of compulsory school age must have a PEP, whether or not currently in education. It provides essential information to ensure that appropriate support is in place to enable the child to achieve the targets set. It is also a record of the child's leisure interests and educational achievement.
The Designated Teacher leads on how the PEP is developed and used in school to make sure the child's progress towards education targets is monitored, with the Virtual School Head having a quality assurance role.
All of those involved in the PEP process at all stages should involve the child (according to understanding and ability) and, where appropriate, the child's parent and/or relevant family member.
The PEP is an evolving record, and arrangements for the flow of information to develop, review and update the PEP should be in place to ensure the VSH, Designated Teacher, carer and, where appropriate, child and parent have a copy of the latest version of the document. Virtual School Heads should make arrangements for PEPs to be reviewed each school term.
- Identify developmental and educational needs in relation to skills, knowledge, subject areas and experiences;
- Set short and long-term educational attainment targets agreed in partnership with the child and the carer where appropriate;
- Include a record of planned actions, including milestones on homework, extra tuition and study support, that the school and others will take to promote the educational achievement of the child, based on an assessment of their educational needs;
- Include information on how the child's progress is to be rigorously monitored;
- Record details of specific interventions and targeted support that will be used to make sure personal education targets are met, especially at the end of Key Stage 2 in relation to English and mathematics, and at Key Stage 4 in achieving success in public examinations;
- Say what will happen, or is already happening, to put in place any additional support which may be required - e.g. possible action to support special educational needs involving the SENCO, educational psychologist, or local authority education services (information contained within a EHC plan does not have to be duplicated in the PEP, a reference is sufficient as long as the plans work together to meet overall needs);
- Set out information on what will happen or is already happening to identify and support any mental health needs relevant to the child's education;
- Set out how a child's aspiration and self-confidence is being nurtured, especially in consideration of longer-term goals towards further and higher education, work experience and career plans. Discussions about longer-term goals should start early and ideally well before Year 9 (age 13-14) at school. High aspirations are crucial to successful planning for the future. They should focus on young person's strengths and capabilities and the outcomes they want to achieve;
- Include the child's views on how they see they have progressed and what support they consider to be most effective;
- Be a record of the child's academic achievements and participation in the wider activities of the school and other out of school learning activities (e.g. sporting, personal development);
- Provide information which helps all who are supporting the child's educational achievement to understand what works for them, helping to substitute for the role that parents might otherwise provide; and
- Have clear accountability in terms of who within the school is responsible for making the actions identified in the plan happen.
The Designated Teacher would normally have overall responsibility for leading the process of target setting for Children Looked After in school, should monitor and track how their attainment progresses, and ensure that identified actions are put in place. The Designated Teacher will help the school and the local authority that looks after the child to decide what arrangements work best in the development and review of the PEP.
In addition the PEP should have:
- An up to date and accurate chronology of education and training history which provides a record of the child's educational experience and progress in terms of National Curriculum Assessments, 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;
- A clear statement clarifying 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;
- A description of any planned changes to existing arrangements and provision to minimise disruption;
- A description of the child's leisure interests;
- A description of the role of the appropriate person and any other person who cares for the child in promoting the child's educational achievements and leisure interests;
- A description of how the Pupil Premium is assisting the child's progress. Applications for bursaries should be discussed as part of PEP Meetings;
- Details of who will take the plan forward, with timescales for action and review are an essential aspect of all PEP planning
Monitoring and reviewing the PEP in school
Designated Teachers should work closely with other staff in school to make sure the child's progress is rigorously monitored and evaluated. They should be able to:
- Judge whether the teaching and learning and intervention strategies being used are working to support achievement and wellbeing; and
- Know whether the young person is likely to meet the attainment targets in their PEP.
- If the young person is not on track to meet targets, the Designated Teacher should be instrumental in agreeing the best way forward with them in order to make progress and ensure that this is reflected in the PEP.
- A child's care plan is reviewed regularly by the authority that looks after them, the first being within 20 working days of being Accommodated. The IRO will ask about the child's educational progress as part of the overall care plan review and should have access to the most up-to-date PEP (see Child Looked After Reviews Procedure).
So that there can be an informed discussion at the statutory review of the care plan about the child's progress in school, the Virtual School works closely with the Designated Teacher to ensure e that:
- The PEP is reviewed before the statutory review of the care plan, it is up-to-date and contains any new information since the last PEP review, including whether agreed provision is being delivered;
- The PEP is clear about what has or has not been taken forward, noting what resources may be required to further support the child and from where these may be sourced; and
- The updated PEP is available to the child's social worker ahead of the statutory review of the Care Plan.
The school and the local authority which looks after the child have a shared responsibility for helping Children Looked After to achieve and enjoy. The content, implementation and review of the PEP enable both the school and local authority to discuss how they can help achieve this. The PEP review is coordinated by the Virtual School and is done through a meeting involving the Designated Teacher and other key staff from school, social worker, the young person, carers and other relevant professionalsThe PEP must include the contact details of the Virtual School Head for the authority that looks after the child.
4. Avoidance of Disruption in Education
The Nominated Officer must be involved in the discussions around any change of placement affecting a child's education particularly in Key Stage 4 where this should only happen in exceptional circumstances, 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;
- The SEN Team have been consulted where a child has an EHCP.
5. The Role of the Social Worker
The social worker has the lead responsibility in ensuring that the education of Children Looked After (CLA) is prioritised in order to maximise their future life chances.
Issues and practicalities regarding education require active consideration and planning prior to any child/young person becoming looked after, or changing their care placement.
Social workers need to familiarise themselves with the Council's policy on the education of CLA. They need to be aware of their role in ensuring that specific tasks are carried out, either on behalf of, or in conjunction with natural parents.
The social worker must inform both the Designated Teacher for Children Looked After in school and the Virtual School prior to a change in care status or placement of Children Looked After. This initial contact will enable parties to make introductions, exchange preliminary information and arrange to meet in person to complete or amend the Personal Education Plan (see Personal Education Plans Procedure).
It is essential that changes of care status or placements are promptly entered into Children's Social Care computer systems in order that all databases on the education of Children Looked After can be updated for management information purposes.
In order for the social worker to successfully champion the cause of Children Looked After they may be required to act as advocate on a wide range of issues.It is the social worker's ultimate responsibility to deal with educational issues. Exclusions, Education, Health and Care Plans, school transitions, exam choices, careers, further education, parents evenings may all require attention and monitoring from time to time. Whilst the social worker must lead on these issues the Virtual School is available to provide advice and guidance and lead as required on a range of issues, including school transfer, admissions and exclusions.
6. Role of Foster Carers
Prior to the commencement of a new care placement the Social Worker must liaise with the Virtual School to initiate a Personal Education Plan (PEP). PEP's should only be completed at a face to face meeting which involves all interested parties (see Personal Education Plans Procedure) and foster carers should be fully involved in this process.
In the early days of a new placement foster carers should be proactive in introducing themselves to the new school and in particular the Designated Teacher for Children Looked After who is responsible for the welfare and progress of all Children Looked After on the school roll.
Small details and practicalities are vital to ensure a successful start and maintenance of any school placement. Foster carers must ensure that they are immediately aware of the school and pupils timetable, including significant dates in the school year and specific school rules about codes of dress, conduct, discipline and punctuality.
Foster carers must ensure that children/young people have the correct school uniform and the range of equipment needed for the various activities and lessons throughout the school week. They must also take responsibility for ensuring that it is available to be taken into school on the correct day.
Carers should strive to develop and maintain good links with school and initiate regular contact with teachers in order that progress can be monitored and specific targets can be worked towards. This close contact gives a very positive message to children and young people about the priority and importance of their progress in school.
The foster carer should ring school to inform them of any legitimate absence in line with the school's First Day Calling Procedure on the first day of absence. Where absence is a cause for concern the foster carer should ring school each day to check on attendance and devise a strategy with school to deal with the situation, in liaison with the Virtual School.
Foster carers should take an active interest in school life and the educational progress of children in their care. This should include attending school functions and meetings, festivals and open days. It is expected that foster carers should always attend parents/options evenings unless prior agreement has been made for parents or the Social Worker to attend. It is also important that the child has input into decisions as to adults attending meetings. The general expectation is that as primary carer, the foster carer will have the most involvement with school on a day to day basis and is therefore in the best position to attend.
The opportunities which schools provide through out of school hours activities, trips and recreational events are all especially important to the personal and social development of Children Looked After. Being involved in extra- curricular school life helps children and young people feel "included" and can help compensate for the disruption in their lives. Foster carers should ensure that the children in their care are not disadvantaged by their special circumstances and must strive with the assistance of the Social Worker to ensure that transport issues, lack of available funds do not become barriers to participation in extra-curricular activities. Foster carers should be made aware of the support to them in promoting leisure time activities and their entitlement to "Passport to Leisure" scheme in Calderdale.
Homework arrangements play an important role in educational progress. Foster carers should be proactive in ensuring that homework is completed on time, reading time is available nightly and that Children Looked After are being set challenging yet achievable goals at home which reflect work in class. It is important that foster carers are aware of the academic strengths and weaknesses of the children in their care as well as having basic knowledge of areas of learning that are being covered in each term. All schools now have user friendly materials which outline subject areas for parents and make suggestions about how work in school can be reinforced at home.
Within the Virtual School, all Children Looked After have an allocated Key Stage Coordinator who is able to offer support and advice to carers (tel: 01422 394137).Carers should ensure that a quiet, comfortable space is available for children to undertake their homework and that they have the support, information, literature and resources necessary for course work or project work that is set.Educational attainment can be a passport to success for Children Looked After. Foster carers play a key role in ensuring this but require help and support in fulfilling their responsibilities as outlined above. It is crucial that all professionals from Children and Young People's Services recognise carers pivotal role and value the important contributions they can make to the educational successes of all Children Looked After.
7. When a Child First Becomes Looked After
As soon as a child becomes looked after (if not before), the child's social worker must notify the education service where the child is placed.
If the child is known to have an Education, Health and Care Plan or to be under assessment, the social worker should ensure the relevant SEN adviser is informed.
The Virtual School in liaison with the child's social worker must also inform the Designated Teacher at the child's school within 48 hours of the child becoming looked after and a Personal Education Plan meeting arranged by the Virtual School. Regular liaison should then be maintained.
7.2 Pupil Premium Plus Funding
All Looked After and Previously Looked After Children are eligible for PP+ funding. This is additional funding provided to help improve the attainment of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children and close the attainment gap between this group and their peers. It is not a personal budget for individual children. The extra funding provided by the PP+ reflects the significant additional barriers faced by Looked After and Previously Looked After Children. The Designated Teacher has an important role in ensuring the specific needs of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children are understood by the school's staff and reflected in how the school uses PP+ to support these children.
The PP+ for Children Looked After is managed by the VSH. However the PP+ for Previously Looked After Children is managed by the school.
The PP+ is a key component in ensuring resources are available to support the child's Personal Education Plan and the plan should clarify what the support is and how it will be delivered
7.3 The First Personal Education Plan
The first PEP should be in place as part of a Care Plan within 10 working days of a child becoming Looked After.
The Virtual School in Liaison with the child's social worker should arrange a meeting to draw up the first PEP which should include the Designated Teacher at the school (where the child has a school place), the residential staff/carer and any other relevant professionals; and should involve the child and parents as far as is appropriate and possible.
Where the child is excluded from school, the Head Teacher should be invited.
Where the child has no school place, the Virtual School will lead and assist in the search for a school place. The SEN adviser should also be asked to assist as appropriate.
The first PEP should:
- Identify the educational and social factors that may have caused or may cause in the future a detrimental effect on the child's educational achievement;
- Identify the support required to reduce the impact of these factors;
- Identify the child's immediate and priority needs and targets, (e.g. to maintain the current school place, make transport arrangements, find a new school, obtain short-term interim education);
- Incorporate any SEN Support Plan or other school-based plan;
- Identify a named person for the day to day management of the PEP and establish lines of communication between the staff/carer, school/education staff, social worker and Virtual School - the basis of a working partnership;
- Establish boundaries of confidentiality;
- Agree arrangements for the next PEP review meeting and how and when the next (full) PEP is going to be drawn up.
The completed PEP should be distributed to the child, parents, staff/carers and all others invited to the meeting by the Virtual School. A copy will be uploaded on to the CSC CASS system.N.B. The provision of education for pupils with Education Health or Care Plans can only be changed if the child's plan has been amended at an annual review.
8. When a Child Moves to a New Authority
If a child is placed in the area of a different local authority but continues to attend the same school as before, the procedure outlined in Section 7.3, The First Personal Education Plan applies.
If the child is to be placed in the area of a different local authority and will need a new school, efforts to obtain a school place should (unless it is an emergency placement) begin well BEFORE they move to a new placement. The Virtual School will lead and liaise with the relevant Education Officer and, if appropriate, the SEN adviser to search for a school place.
Whenever possible a child should not be moved to a new placement until they also have a school place.
Where the child does not have a school place - see Section 10, When a Child has No School Place.
Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans
Where a child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (previously a statement of special educational needs), the Plan must be transferred – see: Children and Young People Aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Procedure.
9. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School
The choice of school requires skilled working between relevant people. It should be based on a discussion between the Virtual School, the child's social worker, their carers and, if appropriate, birth parents. The VSH should normally be consulted to avoid choosing a school that is unlikely to meet the child's needs. Children Looked After and Previously Looked After Children have been given the highest priority within school admission arrangements. VSHs, working with education settings, should implement pupil premium arrangements for children who are Looked After
The child's wishes and feelings should be taken into account and the suitability of the education setting tested by arranging an informal visit with the child.
Changes of school should be minimised to avoid disruption to the child's education and should not take place in the middle of a school year or in years 10 and 11, unless this is unavoidable
School details will need to be amended on the electronic record.
At least one member of staff in the school - the Designated Teacher or the Head Teacher - must be informed by the social worker within 48 hours that the child is Looked After and be provided with a copy of the child's current PEP. Other members of staff who need to know should be identified at the PEP meeting, taking into account the child's wishes concerning confidentiality.
Where the child is a Previously Looked After Child, sharing of information regarding the child's status is an issue that should be discussed with the parent or person with Parental Responsibility, but impressing upon them the importance of sharing such information where it is assessed the child has educational needs as a result of being Previously Looked After, or where a previous school has supported the child on this basis.
9.2 Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans
A change of school at any time needs the agreement of the relevant local education service maintaining the Education, Health and Care Plan. This needs to be planned for as early as possible as it can cause long delays.
The child's social worker should ensure that they are aware of the current position with regard to the Plan, including any additional support provided and by whom.
The PEP meeting should identify key targets for the child and then at the end of each term targets are reviewed and new targets are set for the following term. There will be a full PEP meeting held within each academic year for every child. There will also be review PEP meetings or a review of the PEP document if the child changes placement, school or both.
10. When a Child has no School Place
Finding a school place is primarily the social worker's responsibility but in Calderdale the Virtual School lead on Identifying appropriate schools and working with social care to find a school that best meets the child's needs. The Virtual School will endeavour to put some educational input e.g. Tuition or online learning in place at the earliest opportunity whilst a school place is being sought and transition is taking place.
Children without a school place should still have an up-to-date PEP. It should address the child's immediate educational needs and the longer-term planning.
10.2 Children Placed within the local authority area
Where the child does not have a school place because one cannot be found, or because mainstream school is not appropriate to their needs, the Virtual School in liaison with the child's social worker should notify and seek assistance from the education service (and the SEN adviser, in appropriate cases). The local education service should identify a school place within 20 working days at the latest; and should be asked to provide alternative education if a school place cannot be found immediately or is not appropriate.
10.3 Children Placed in a different local authority area
Where the child does not have a school place because one cannot be found, or the child has been placed at very short notice, the child's social worker in liaison with the Virtual School will notify the education service in the area where the child is placed and lead on the identification of a school for the child as soon as possible. The assistance of the local education service (and the local SEN adviser if appropriate) should also be sought. Unless Section 10.4, Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans applies, the education service local to the placement should identify a school place within 20 working days at the latest; and should be asked to provide alternative education if a school place cannot be found immediately or is not appropriate.
10.4 Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans
Applications for school places for pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan should be made through the special needs section of the local education service maintaining the plan, not directly. This needs to be planned for as early as possible as it can cause long delays.
11. Safeguarding Children Looked After at School
All staff in the school should be aware of the systems in the school that support safeguarding. These systems should be explained to them as part of induction and there should be regular update training for all staff. This should include:
- The child protection policy and procedures;
- The Data Protection Act and safeguarding;
- The child behaviour policy;
- The staff behaviour policy (code of conduct);
- The safeguarding response to children who go missing from education.
All staff must report any concerns regarding Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), and should report modern slavery, trafficking or exploitation.
11.1 Child Protection Policy and Procedures
Following induction, all staff should have read the child protection policy and have an awareness of safeguarding issues and be clear about how to report concerns and who they should report to. Staff should receive training and guidance so they can recognise signs that a child is being drawn into anti-social or criminal behaviour (including gang involvement) and understand how behaviours linked to issues such as drug taking, alcohol abuse, deliberately missing education and sexting (also known as youth produced sexual imagery) put children in danger. (See also Section 11.4, Protecting Children Looked After from peer on peer abuse and Section 11.5, Serious Violence)
All children should feel and be safe in the school they attend; Children Looked After are a vulnerable group. The aim of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children in education should be:
- Protecting them from maltreatment;
- Preventing any impairment of their mental and physical health or development;
- Ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with safe and effective care;
- Taking action to enable them to have the best outcomes.
11.2 Data Protection and Safeguarding
NOTE: Information does not refer simply to written or electronically stored records. It also refers to other kinds of information such as biometric data (for example, use of finger prints to receive school dinners or to enter buildings).
UK GDPR does not prevent, or limit, the sharing of information for the purposes of keeping children safe. Lawful and secure information sharing between schools, Children's Social Care, and other local agencies, is essential for keeping children safe and ensuring they get the support they need.
When Designated Safeguarding Leads in schools are considering whether, or not, to share safeguarding information (especially with other agencies) it is considered best practice for them to record who they are sharing that information with and for what reason. If they have taken a decision not to seek consent from the data subject and/or parent/carer that should also be recorded within the safeguarding file.
All relevant information can be shared without consent if to gain consent would place a child at risk. Fears about sharing information must not be allowed to stand in the way of promoting the welfare and protecting the safety of children. As with all data sharing, appropriate organisational and technical safeguards should still be in place.
11.3 Protecting Children Looked After from Adults that may Pose a Risk to them and/or other Children in the School
It is essential that social workers, carers and school staff, particularly the Designated Safeguarding Lead, have absolute clarity with regard to who is and is not allowed to have access to any Child Looked After.
Any suspicion regarding any adult seeking contact with the child, either in person or through social media, during school hours should be reported to the Designated Lead immediately.
Any member of staff who has concerns about anyone working within the school (staff, volunteers) or undertaking work on or near school premises (contractors, advisors, catering and so forth) must inform a senior member of staff immediately.
The child's social worker must then be informed and child protection procedures then followed. Staff will also need to be aware of issues such as forced marriage and FGM that may have led to some children becoming looked after.
For further information, please go to: Part 5 of KCSIE - Child on Child Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment
All staff should be aware that safeguarding issues can manifest themselves via peer on peer abuse. This can include (but is not limited to):
- Bullying (including cyberbullying);
- Physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, shaking, biting, hair pulling, or otherwise causing physical harm;
- Sexual violence such as rape, assault by penetration and sexual assault;
- Sexual harassment such as sexual comments, remarks, jokes and online sexual harassment, which may be stand-alone or part of a broader pattern of abuse;
- Upskirting which typically involves taking a picture under a person’s clothing without them knowing, with the intention of viewing their genitals or buttocks to obtain sexual gratification, or cause the victim humiliation, distress or alarm;
- Sexting (also known as youth produced sexual imagery); and
- Initiating/hazing type violence and rituals;
- Staff should be clear as to the school or college's policy and procedures with regards to peer on peer abuse.
Looked after and Previously Looked After Children can be particularly vulnerable to individual or group bullying either in person or through social media where they can be subject to verbal and physical violence and/or sexual violence and harassment.
Girls are at significantly greater risk of sexual harassment and assault than boys. Schools and colleges should ensure that their response to sexual violence and sexual harassment between children of the same identified gender is equally robust as it is for sexual violence and sexual harassment between children of different identified genders.
Schools must have procedures in place to protect all children, but particularly vulnerable groups of children such as Children Looked After, from unwanted and damaging interactions with their peers. It is important, as well, to be aware that Looked After and Previously Looked After Children may be the perpetrators of abuse. In this case, the school or college will have a difficult balancing act to consider. On the one hand to safeguard the victim (and the wider student body) and on the other hand providing the alleged perpetrator with an education, safeguarding support as appropriate and implementing any disciplinary sanctions.
All staff should be aware of indicators which may signal that children are at risk from, or are involved with serious violent crime. Indicators may include increased absence from school, a change in friendships or relationships with older individuals or groups, a significant decline in performance, signs of self-harm or a significant change in wellbeing or signs of assault or unexplained injuries. Unexplained gifts or new possessions could also indicate that children have been approached by, or are involved with, individuals associated with sexual exploitation, criminal networks or gangs.
Children Looked After are particularly vulnerable to being targeted by gangs. Carers, social workers and school staff should be proactive and share any concerns at the earliest possible time.
For further information please see:
- Preventing youth violence and gang involvement;
- Criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults: county lines.
11.6 Assisting Children Looked After to Reduce Risk Taking Behaviour
There is a whole range of risk taking behaviours that Looked After and Previously Looked After could be involved in ranging from gang based activities to drug and alcohol abuse and/or radicalisation.
A child going missing from education is a potential indicator of abuse or neglect and such children are at risk of being victims of harm, exploitation or radicalisation.
School and college staff should follow their procedures for unauthorised absence and for dealing with children that go missing from education, particularly on repeat occasions, to help identify the risk of abuse and neglect, including sexual or criminal exploitation, and to help prevent the risks of going missing in future. It is essential that all staff are alert to signs to look out for and the individual triggers to be aware of when considering the risks of potential safeguarding concerns such as travelling to conflict zones, female genital mutilation and forced marriage.
Further information about children at risk of missing education can be found in the Children Missing Education guidance.Where necessary, the Children Missing from Care Procedure must be followed - see the West Yorkshire Local Safeguarding Children Boards Consortium Procedures Manual.
12. Celebrating a Child's Achievements
Children's educational (and other) achievements should be acknowledged at one or more of the following times: at Child Looked After Reviews; in the PEP, at school-based meetings; in school reports; and after exams.
Recording a Child's AchievementsA Child Looked After's educational attainments at Key Stages 1-3, GCSE, A Level and GNVQ should be recorded, including on the electronic record and in the PEP.
13. When a Child is Absent from School
The residential staff/carer must notify the school and the child's social worker immediately if the child does not attend school for any reason.
In any case where the child has been absent from school for more than 10 days, the Virtual School and the social worker should liaise with the school, the child, residential staff/carers and any other relevant person to address:
- The reasons for the absence;
- How to ensure the child returns to education as soon as possible;
- Whether and how the child can be helped to catch up on what they have missed.
14. School Exclusions
There is a principle in Calderdale that no Child Looked After will be permanently excluded from a school. The Virtual School therefore works closely with schools where concerns are arising to prevent this being an outcome.
Where a school has concerns about the behaviour child who is Looked After or Previously Looked After, the coordinator should be aware and the VSH should be informed and, where necessary, involved at the earliest opportunity. This is to enable the Virtual School, working with others, to:
- Consider what additional assessment and support (such as additional help for the classroom teacher, one-to-one therapeutic work or a suitable alternative placement) needs to be put in place to address the causes of the child's behaviour and prevent the need for exclusion;
- Hold regular meetings to enable all the key professionals to identify their role and responsibilities around preventing an exclusion, and to identify any unmet needs that need to be addressed;
- Provide additional advice, guidance or training that may support the school in responding to the child's unmet needs.
14.1 Fixed term exclusions
Looked After and Previously Looked After Children have disproportionately high rates of exclusion and are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of exclusions. Headteachers should, as far as possible, avoid excluding any Child Looked After. Exclusion from school should be a last resort; therefore it is important to work with the school and carers to intervene as soon as a child's behaviour becomes a cause for concern.
Where a child is excluded from school for a fixed period, the school will provide work for the child for the first 5 days of the exclusion. The social worker must liaise with the residential staff/carers about suitable arrangements for supervising the child doing the schoolwork during the day and ensuring the child does not go out during school hours. With effect from the 6th day the school should provide a place for the child to be educated.
The school will communicate the reasons for the exclusion to the Virtual School, residential staff/carer and the social worker. Whoever is the most appropriate one to do so will discuss this with the child. The social worker should inform the parents, if appropriate.
The social worker, in consultation with the child and parents, must seek advice as to whether to appeal against the decision to exclude the child.If the child is in primary school and receives a fixed term exclusion or is in secondary school and is excluded for more than 5 days, the social worker should ensure a reintegration meeting is held within the 5 days to discuss t their return and how best this can be supported.
14.2 Permanent exclusions
The Calderdale principle is that no Child Looked After will be permanently excluded; however should there be an exceptional circumstance where this was not preventable the following would adhered to:
When a child is permanently excluded but is remaining in the same foster or residential placement, the Virtual School will liaise with the social worker and the local education service in which the child is living to find an alternative school placement. Again, for the first 5 days of the exclusion the school will provide work and the child should not be out unaccompanied in public during school hours. From the 6th day the local authority will arrange for a place for the child to be educated.
In the case of permanent exclusion a meeting of a committee of governors will be held within 15 days to review the decision. If the committee decides to uphold the decision to permanently exclude, an appeal can be made within 15 school days. The appeals form can be completed by a foster carer or anyone who has Parental Responsibility for the child.
15. School Transport
In order to maintain continuity of school, those with responsibility for school transport should be approached by the Virtual School to provide assistance with transport. A decision will be made taking into account the child's age and the distance from the child's address to the nearest suitable school.
16. Mental Health
Looked-after and previously looked-after children are more likely to experience the challenge of social, emotional and mental health issues than their peers. For example, they may struggle with, developmental trauma and insecure attachments, executive functioning skills, forming trusting relationships, social skills, managing strong feelings (e.g. shame, sadness, anxiety and anger), sensory processing difficulties, foetal alcohol syndrome and coping with transitions and change. This can impact on their behaviour and education.
Designated Teachers are not expected to be mental health experts; however, they have an important role in ensuring they and other school staff can identify signs of potential issues and understand where the school can draw on specialist services, such as CAMHS and educational psychologists. In addition, many schools have an officer responsible for making links with mental health services, with whom Designated Teachers can work closely. Where such an officer is available, Designated Teachers should work with them, and access training and support from the VSH to ensure that they, and other school staff, have the skills to:
- Identify signs of potential mental health issues, and know how to access further assessment and support where necessary, making full use of the SENCO and local authority support team where applicable; and
- Understand the impact trauma, insecure attachments and other mental health issues can have on looked-after and previously looked-after children and their ability to engage in learning. It is also important that the Designated Teacher and other school staff are aware that these issues will continue to affect previously looked-after children, and that the school will need to continue to respond appropriately to their needs.
17. Training for those Involve in the Care and Education of Children Looked After
The VSH should ensure that there are appropriate arrangements in place to meet the training needs of those responsible for promoting the educational achievement of Children Looked After. This includes carers, social workers, Designated Teachers and IROs.
Such training, among other things, should include information about school admission arrangements; Special Educational Needs; attendance and exclusions; homework; choosing GCSE options; managing any challenging behaviour in relation to education settings; promoting positive educational and recreational activities and supporting children to be aspirational for their future education; training and employment, and the importance of listening to and taking account of the child's wishes and feelings about education and the PEP process.
The VSH should ensure that school governing bodies understand the importance of specific professional development for, as a minimum, their senior leaders and Designated Teachers in supporting the achievement of Children Looked After.
18. Information Sharing
Arrangements for sharing reliable data must be in place, particularly in relation to the tracking and monitoring of attainment data and notifications of where children, including those placed out-of-authority, are being educated, and must set out:
- Who has access to what information and how the security of data will be ensured;
- How children and parents are informed of, and allowed to challenge, information that is kept about them;
- How carers contribute to and receive information;
- Mechanisms for sharing information between relevant local authority departments and schools;
- How relevant information about individual children is passed promptly between authorities, departments and schools when young people move. Relevant information includes the PEP, which as part of the Child's educational record should be transferred with them to the new school.