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5.4.3 Education of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter applies to all Looked After and Previously Looked After Children. It should be read in conjunction with the following government guidance documents:

Guidance on Looked After Children with Special Educational Needs placed out-of-authority this guidance explains the respective roles of the home Authority and the Authority where the child lives when these are different.

Promoting the Education of Looked-After Children and Previously Looked-After Children

Keeping Children Safe in Education (All staff in a school or college should read Part One of the guidance)

Sexting: how to respond to an incident

Data protection: 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 GDPR does not prevent, or limit, the sharing of information for the purposes of keeping children safe.

Sexual violence and sexual harassment between children in schools and colleges

Supporting Pupils at School with Medical Conditions: Statutory Guidance for Governing Bodies of Maintained Schools and Proprietors of Academies in England (DfE)

Designated Teacher for Looked-After and Previously Looked-After Children

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

Exclusion from Maintained Schools, Academies and Pupil Referral Units in England: A Guide for those with Legal Responsibilities in Relation to Exclusion

Mental Health and Behaviour in Schools - Guidance

Regulated activity in relation to children: scope

Note: that different provisions apply to children who acquire Looked After status as a result of a remand to local authority accommodation or Youth Detention Accommodation. In relation to those children, please see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure, Care Planning for Young People on Remand or Youth Detention Accommodation.

RELEVANT LOCAL GUIDANCE

Bolton S.E.N.D - Local Offer

RELATED CHAPTER

Children and Young People Aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Procedure

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in March 2020 to reflect Keeping Children Safe in Education 2019 which replaces the 2018 version. Section 8, Safeguarding the Looked After Child at School has been amended to include reference to Upskirting (which is now a criminal offence) and serious violence.

OFSTED’s advice that Local Authorities should exercise due diligence in ensuring schools for LAC pupils are registered with the DFE has been added.


Contents

  1. Duty to Promote the Educational Achievement of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children
  2. The Personal Education Plan (PEP)
  3. Avoidance of Disruption in Education
  4. When a Child First becomes Looked After
  5. When a Child Moves to a New Local Authority 
  6. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School 
  7. When a Child has No School Place
  8. Safeguarding the Looked After Child at School
  9. Celebrating a Child's Achievements
  10. When a Child is Absent from School 
  11. School Exclusions 
  12. School Transport 
  13. Children and Young People with Medical Conditions
  14. Mental Health
  15. Training for those Involved in the Care and Education of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children
  16. Information Sharing

    Appendix 1: PEP Flow Chart

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 the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) schools and colleges that are public bodies have a general duty to have regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation, to advance equality of opportunity between different groups and to foster good relations between different groups. The duty applies to all protected characteristics and means that whenever significant decisions are being made or policies developed, thought must be given to the equality implications such as, for example, the elimination of sexual violence and sexual harassment. Looked After Children may be classed as having protected characteristics as a result of disability, age, religious beliefs, sexual orientation and/or race.

Under Section 22 (3A) 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 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').

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.

(A child is in 'state care' outside England and Wales if they are in the care of, or accommodated by, a public authority, a religious organisation or any other organisation the sole or main purpose of which is to benefit society).

Governing bodies of schools and colleges must appoint a Designated Teacher specifically for looked after children to promote the educational achievement of children who are Looked After and Previously Looked After Children to ensure that this person has appropriate training, knowledge and skills to do the job efficiently.

An up-to-date list of Designated Teachers should be maintained to assist with communications and assist other authorities that have placed children within the authority.

As leaders responsible for ensuring that the local authority discharges its duty to promote the educational achievement of their Looked After children and Previously Looked After Children, Directors of Children's Services and Lead Members for Children's Services should ensure that:

  • Schools attended by Looked After and previously looked After children are registered. OFSTED’s Chief Inspector stresses the importance of ensuring that all placements of Looked After Children are made with due diligence. Before any placement the local authority should carry out all necessary checks to make certain that schools are registered with the Department for Education;Closing the attainment and progress gap between Looked After and Previously Looked After Children and their peers and creating a culture of high aspirations for them is a top priority;
  • Looked After and Previously Looked After Children have access to a suitable range of high quality education placement options and that commissioning services for them takes account of the duty to promote their educational achievement;
  • VSHs are in place and have the resources, time, training and support they need to discharge the duty effectively;
  • VSHs have robust procedures in place to monitor the attendance and educational progress of the children their authority looks after;
  • The authority's Children in Care Council (CiCC) regularly addresses the educational experiences raised by Looked After and Previously Looked After Children and is able to respond effectively to such issues.

The Virtual School Head should be the lead responsible officer for ensuring that arrangements are in place to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of the authority's Looked After and Previously Looked After Children, including those placed out-of-authority.

VSHs should ensure the educational attainment and progress of children Looked After and Previously Looked After Children by the local authority are monitored and evaluated.

The VSH should ensure that there are effective systems in place to:

  • Ensure the status of the child and their entitlement to support is made clear to all the professionals supporting that child;
  • Maintain an up-to-date roll of its Looked After and Previously Looked After Children who are in school or college settings and gather information about their education placement, attendance and educational progress including those children who are placed outside the Borough of Bolton;
  • Inform headteachers and Designated Teachers in schools if they have a child on roll who is Looked After and Previously Looked After Children by the VSH's local authority;
  • Ensure that all those involved with the child understand their role and responsibilities in initiating, developing, reviewing and updating the child's PEP and how they help meet the needs identified in that PEP;
  • Ensure up-to-date, effective and high quality PEPs that focus on educational outcomes and that all Looked After children, wherever they are placed, have such a PEP;
  • Ensure the educational achievement of children Looked After and Previously Looked After Children by the authority is seen as a priority by everyone who has responsibilities for promoting their welfare;
  • Report regularly on the attainment of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children through the authority's corporate parenting structures.

Governing bodies should ensure that appropriate staff have the information they need in relation to a child's Looked After legal status and who holds parental responsibility. They should also have information about the child's care arrangements and the levels of authority delegated to the carer. The designated safeguarding lead, through the Designated Teacher for Looked After children and Previously Looked After Children, should have details of the child's social worker and the name of the Virtual School Head (VSH).

The VSH is integral to ensuring that local authorities discharge their duty to provide suitable advice and information for the purpose of promoting the educational achievement of previously looked after children. They can also undertake any activity they consider appropriate where that activity will promote the educational achievement of such children in their area. The VSH should promote a culture that takes account of the child's views according to age and understanding in identifying and meeting their educational needs.

Promoting the Educational Achievement of Previously Looked After Children

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 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.


2. The Personal Education Plan (PEP)

The Personal Education Plan (PEP) allows all professionals, parents / carers and the child, to set out what needs to happen to meet the educational needs of the child. Where the child has no school place, the education service, in conjunction with the social worker should take responsibility. 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 Personal Education Plan should be initiated as part of the Care Plan before the child becomes Looked After (or within 10 working days of becoming looked after), and have up to date information included.

All looked after children must have a care plan, of which the PEP is an integral part the PEP document will inform the care plan. It provides essential educational 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 should chair the PEP meeting and lead on completing the PEP form with accurate up to date information and monitor how the PEP is used in school to make sure the child’s progress towards education targets is monitored effectively, with the Virtual School Head having a quality assurance role.

The PEP is an evolving record and must be reviewed and updated at a minimum of every six months but more frequently if required, for example if a child changes school or there are specific educational issues. A PEP can be convened at the request of the multi-agency team and the child. The PEP is currently recorded electronically by the social worker after the educational setting has completed the form on the prompt document. Copies of the latest version of the document should be shared with professionals, the child and family where deemed appropriate. Consideration should be given to writing the document in a child friendly manner. It is the responsibility of the social worker and school to ensure that PEP meetings happen in a timely manner.

PEPs should:

  • Identify individual developmental and educational needs in relation to skills, knowledge, subject areas and experiences;
  • Set specific short and long-term educational attainment targets agreed in partnership with the child and the carer where appropriate;
  • Include a SMART plan with clear actions, 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. The school is accountable for detailing the spend of the PPG+ within the PEP;
  • Identify if a child has special educational needs (information contained within an 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 or well-being needs relevant to the child’s education, this includes the use of the strengths and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ’s);
  • Set out how a child’s aspiration and self-confidence is being nurtured thinking about the curriculum and additional support that may be required, especially in consideration of longer-term goals towards further and higher education, work experience and career plans. 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, this document is about them and should be done in conjunction with the child;
  • 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 and when. It is also helpful to consider any contingency plans and what will happen if actions are not completed.

The designated teacher should take responsibility for leading the process of target setting for looked after children in school, should monitor and track how their attainment progresses, and ensure that identified actions are put in place.

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. This should be shared with the social worker as corporate parent to ensure that the child’s social care file is robust and detailed in respect of education;
  • A description of any planned changes to existing arrangements and provision to minimise disruption;
  • A description of the child's leisure interests;
  • Details of all those who are involved with promoting the child's educational achievements and leisure interests;
  • A comprehensive breakdown of how the Pupil Premium is assisting the child’s progress and applications for bursaries should be discussed as part of PEP Meetings and recorded on the form. Any progress should be recorded and in the event that progress is not made then the use of the PPG should be revised and alternative interventions put in place;
  • A clear and succinct SMART plan.

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 their individual attainment targets in their PEP.

If the young person is not on track to meet targets, the designated teacher should take the lead in agreeing the best way forward for the child to make progress and ensure that this is recorded in the PEP.

A child's care plan is reviewed regularly by the authority that looks after them (Looked After Children’s Review), 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 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 designated teacher is responsible for ensuring that:

  • They review the PEP before the statutory review of the care plan, it is up-to-date and contains new and updated information since the last PEP review, including whether agreed provision is being delivered the PEP document should take a pro-active approach and detail any arising issues at the earliest opportunity;
  • The PEP is clear about what actions need to be taken forward, noting what resources may be required to further support the child and from where these may be sourced; and
  • The PEP is recorded electronically 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 looked after children 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 should be done through a meeting involving the social worker, the young person, carers and others where necessary. The VSH will have oversight of this process but will not necessarily attend the meeting.

The PEP must include the contact details of the Virtual School Head for the authority that looks after the child.


3. Avoidance of Disruption in Education

The Nominated Officer (Virtual School Head) must approve of any change of educational placement affecting any child before it occurs. 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 and recorded clearly within the PEP;
  • The wishes and feelings of the parent(s) have been ascertained where the child is accommodated where possible and appropriate;
  • The educational provision will promote educational achievement and this is clearly reflected with the PEP;
  • The Independent Reviewing Officer has been consulted and shared their view;
  • 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.


4. When a Child First becomes Looked After

4.1 Notification

As soon as a child becomes looked after (if not before), the child's social worker must complete a Change of Circumstances form and notify the education service where the child is placed. If the child is placed out of borough then the VSH should be alerted to any change of provision. Any child placed out of borough must have education provision and this is the responsibility of the social worker.

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. If the child is placed out of borough then the social worker should liaise with the SEN department where the child is placed to ensure that there is case responsibility.

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. Regular liaison should then be maintained.

4.2 Pupil Premium Plus Funding

All looked after and previously looked after children are eligible for PP+ funding. This additional funding is 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 however, a breakdown of spending and interventions should be provided by school and recorded within the PEP.

The PP+ for looked after children is managed by the VSH and currently distributed to the allocated school. However the PP+ for previously looked after children is managed by the school.

4.3 The First Personal Education Plan

The first PEP should be in place as part of a Care Plan within 20 working days of a child becoming Looked After.

The child's social worker should arrange the first PEP meeting which should include the Designated Teacher at the school (where the child has a school place) 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, a PEP must still take place. The relevant education officer should be invited and asked to 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;
  • 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 and social worker - the basis of a working partnership;
  • Establish boundaries of confidentiality;
  • Agree a date for the next PEP review meeting (within six months) 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. It should also be recorded electronically within reasonable timescales (10 working days).

N.B. The provision of education for pupils with statements of SEN can only be changed if the child's statement has been amended at an annual review. The SENDAS department should be consulted accordingly to ensure that legislation is complied with.


5. When a Child Moves to a New Local 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 4.3, 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 the child moves to a new placement. The social worker should alert the education department in the area that they will attend school. The relevant Education Officer and, if appropriate, the SEN adviser, should be provided with a full educational history and asked to assist in the search for a school place.

Whenever possible a child should not be moved to a new placement until they have a school place. For any child placed in the area of a different local authority the VSH should be alerted of any school places by the social worker.

Where the child does not have a school place - see Section 7, When a Child has No School Place.

Pupils With Education, Health and Care Plans

Where a child has an Education, Health and Care Plan the Plan must be transferred - see the Children and Young People Aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Procedure.


6. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School

The choice of school requires discussions between 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. Looked After and Previously Looked After Children have been given the highest priority within school admission arrangements. Social workers should alert the appropriate persons so that pupil premium arrangements can be made for looked after children including those placed in another local authority.

Schools judged by Ofsted to be 'good' or 'outstanding' should be prioritised for Looked After and Previously Looked After Children in need of a new school. Unless there are exceptional evidence-based reasons, Looked After children should never be placed in a school judged by Ofsted to be 'inadequate' and this should be discussed with the VSH.

The child's wishes and feelings should be considered 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 - see Section 3, Avoidance of Disruption in Education.

School details should be amended on the electronic record to ensure that the most accurate details are available.

6.1 Notification

At least one member of staff in the school must be informed by the social worker within 48 hours that the child is Looked After or is previously 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.

6.2 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 and is primarily the social workers responsibility.

6.3 The First PEP in a New School

A meeting should be held at the new school as soon as practicable. Every child should have an up to date PEP form. This should be in place no later than 20 working days after moving to a new school.

The first PEP in a new school should:

  • Identify the child’s immediate and priority needs;
  • Identify those who are required to participate in the PEP meeting and sharing of information;
  • Identify a named person at the school who will liaise with the social worker;
  • Establish boundaries of confidentiality;
  • Share important information relevant to the child’s education;
  • Clarify with school how PP+ will be used to support the child;
  • Ensure records are forwarded from the previous school and/or carer;
  • Agree a date for the next PEP review meeting.

The completed PEP should be distributed to those invited to the meeting and recorded electronically.


7. When a Child has No School Place

Finding a school place is primarily the social worker's responsibility but should be supported by those deemed most appropriate. The VSH should be alerted by the social worker of any child that does not have a school place and what is in place to resolve this as a matter of urgency.

7.1 PEPs

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.

7.2 Children Placed within the Local Authority Area

Where the child does not have a school place 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.

7.3 Children Placed in a Different Local Authority Area

Where the child does not have a school place the child's social worker should notify the education service in the area where the child is placed and request that a school be identified 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 7.4, 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. It is the social worker's responsibility to ensure that they follow up any requests in respect of finding a school placement. If there are any issues then this should be shared with the Virtual Head.

7.4 Pupils with Education, Health and Care Plans

Applications for school places for pupils with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) should be made through the special needs section of the local education service maintaining the statement, not directly. This needs to be planned for as early as possible as it can cause long delays. 

See: Children and Young People Aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Procedure.


8. Safeguarding the Looked After Child 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:

  1. The child protection policy and procedures;
  2. The Data Protection Act and safeguarding;
  3. The child behaviour policy;
  4. The staff behaviour policy (code of conduct);
  5. 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.

8.1 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.

All children should feel and be safe in the school they attend. Looked after children 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 health or development;
  • Ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with safe and effective care;
  • Being proactive in enabling them to experience positive outcomes.

8.2 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).

GDPR does not prevent, or limit, the sharing of information for the purposes of keeping children safe. Lawful and secure information sharing agencies, if it is essential for keeping children safe and ensuring they get the support they need.

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.

8.3 Protecting Looked After Children 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 regarding who is and is not allowed to have access to any looked after child. Information that is relevant in respect of safeguarding should be shared with the school this is to not only safeguard the child but other children and staff within the school. In some circumstances it maybe suitable to put in place a risk assessment. Any safeguarding concerns should be shared immediately in line with safeguarding procedures. Schools must also ensure all staff are aware of the protocol for managing allegations of professional abuse.

Information should be shared with staff where appropriate and necessary of issues that may have led to some children becoming looked after.

8.4 Protecting Looked After Children from Peer on Peer Abuse

For further information, please see: 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);
  • 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. Each setting should follow the policy and procedure in place to protect all children. Children can often be the perpetrators of abuse and whilst the school has a duty to safeguard all children circumstances need to be considered to ensure that all children receive education. These situations should be managed sensitively and with the support of Safeguarding in Education Team where appropriate.

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.

8.5 Assisting Looked After Children to Reduce Risk Taking Behaviour

There is a whole range of risk taking behaviours that looked after and previously looked after children could be involved in.

A child going missing from education is a potential indicator for concerns about safety and welfare.

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. This is in line with statutory obligations outlined in Keeping Children Safe in Education (2017).

Further information about children at risk of missing education can be found in the Children Missing Education - Statutory guidance for local authorities.

Where necessary, the Children Missing from Care Procedure must be followed - see the Bolton Safeguarding Children Partnership website.


9. Celebrating a Child's Achievements

Children's educational (and other) achievements should be acknowledged at one or more of the following times: at Looked After Reviews; in the PEP, at school-based meetings; in school reports; and after exams.

Recording a Child's Achievements

A Looked After Child'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.


10. 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. If the child is looked after but placed with parents and/or family then a first day visit should be requested by school to the Early Intervention Team.

In any case where the child has been absent from school for more than 10 days, 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 s/he has missed.

If the child is missing from school and/or home, please see: Section 8, Safeguarding the Looked After Child at School.


11. School Exclusions

Where a school has concerns about a Looked After child's and Previously Looked After Child's behaviour, the VSH should be informed and, where necessary, involved at the earliest opportunity. This is to enable the VSH, working with others, to:

  • Consider what additional assessment and support needs to be put in place to address the causes of the child’s behaviour and prevent the need for exclusion;
  • Make any additional arrangements to support the child's on-going education in the event of an exclusion.

Where a looked after child is excluded from school, the child's social worker must inform the child's Independent Reviewing Officer.

11.1 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 Looked After and Previously Looked After Children. Exclusion from school should be a last resort and used only when all other interventions have been exhausted.

Where a child is excluded from school for a fixed period, the school will provide work for the child for the first five days of the exclusion and liaise with the relevant people the reasons for 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 sixth day the school should provide a place for the child to be educated.

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 five days, the social worker should ensure a reintegration meeting is held within the five days to discuss the child’s return and how best this can be supported.

11.2 Permanent Exclusions

When a child is permanently excluded but is remaining in the same foster or residential placement, the social worker will liaise urgently with the local education service in which the child is living to find an alternative school placement. The local authority should provide education provision from the first day of the permanent exclusion and from the sixth day the local authority will arrange for a place for the child to be educated. Schools should alert the social worker, VSH and the education department in the event of a child being or at risk of permanent exclusion.

In the case of permanent exclusion, a meeting of a committee of governors will be held within fifteen days to review the decision. If the committee decides to uphold the decision to permanently exclude, an appeal can be made within fifteen school days. The appeals form can be completed by a foster carer or anyone who has Parental Responsibility for the child.

See also: Exclusion from Maintained Schools, Academies and Pupil Referral Units in England: A Guide for those with Legal Responsibilities in Relation to Exclusion.


12. School Transport

In order to maintain continuity of school, those with responsibility for school transport should be approached to provide transport. A decision will be made considering the child's age and the distance from the child's address to the nearest suitable school.


13. Children and Young People with Medical Conditions

From 1 September 2014, governing bodies have a statutory duty to make arrangements to support pupils at school with medical conditions. The Designated Medical Officer can support schools with these duties. For more information see Supporting Pupils at School with Medical Conditions: Statutory Guidance for Governing Bodies of Maintained Schools and Proprietors of Academies in England (DfE).


14. 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. 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. Multi-agency working may be required to ensure that professionals 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, attachment disorder 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.


15. Training for those Involved in the Care and Education of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children

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 Looked After and Previously Looked After Children. 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 Looked After and Previously Looked After Children. Each school should have a designated Looked After Children governor.


16. Information Sharing

VSHs should have access to a secure email account that enables them to exchange information securely with other VSHs in whose area they have placed children.

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 looked after child's educational record should be transferred with them to the new school.

For further information regarding sharing of information, please see: Section 8.2, Data Protection and Safeguarding.


Appendix 1: PEP Flowchart

Click here to view Appendix 1: PEP Flowchart.

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