Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual
Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual Nottingham City Safeguarding Children’s Board Procedures Manual

5.6.1 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-authoritythis 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 and Previously Looked After Children

Keeping Children Safe in Education

Sexting: how to respond to an incident

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 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)

Guidance on 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

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

RELATED CHAPTER

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

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in May 2019 to reflect amendments made by the Children and Social Work Act 2017.

These changes relate to the status of ‘previously looked after children’ i.e. a previously looked-after child is one who is no longer looked after in England and Wales because s/he is 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. The chapter includes a new Section 12, Mental Health and a new Section 7, Safeguarding the Looked After Child at School. A link was added to the National Curriculum Assessments at Key Stage 2.

In addition, the chapter reflects the statutory guidance Keeping children safe in education (KCSIE) 2018, as it relates to Looked After Children and guidance regarding Data protection and safeguarding as set out in Data protection: a toolkit for schools (Open Beta: Version1.0) (August 2018).


Contents

  1. Duty to Promote the Educational Achievement of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children
  2. The Personal Education Plan (PEP)
  3. When a Child First becomes Looked After
  4. When a Child Moves to a New Local Authority 
  5. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School 
  6. When a Child has No School Place 
  7. Safeguarding the Looked After Child at School
  8. Celebrating a Child's Achievements
  9. When a Child is Absent from School 
  10. School Exclusions 
  11. When a Young Woman becomes Pregnant
  12. Mental Health
  13. School Transport 

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.

1.1 Promoting the Educational Achievement of Previously Looked After Children

Under Section 22 (3A) of t and 23ZZA he 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’).

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).

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; o 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 the social worker, residential staff/carer and Designated Teacher at the child's school or, where the child has no school place, the education service, 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 LAC Reviews.

All looked after children must have a care plan, of which the PEP is an integral part. The PEP (pre-school age to 18) should be initiated as part of the care plan. 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.

PEPs should:

  • 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 looked-after children 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 levels of attainment, including information about educational institutions attended and the reasons for leaving, attendance and conduct record, academic and other achievements, any special educational needs, an indication of the extent to which the child’s education has been disrupted before entering care or accommodation;
  • An up to date and accurate chronology 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.

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 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 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
  • They pass the updated PEP to the child's social worker and VSH 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, such as the VSH.

Avoidance of Disruption in Education

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

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

  • The child’s wishes and feelings have been ascertained and given due consideration;
  • The wishes and feelings of the parent(s) have been ascertained where the child is accommodated (where possible) and where appropriate where the child is subject to a Care Order);
  • The educational provision will promote educational achievement and is consistent with the PEP;
  • The Independent Reviewing Officer has been consulted;
  • The Designated Teacher at the child’s school has been consulted.
Other than in Key Stage 4, where the Local Authority proposes making any change to the child’s placement that would have the effect of disrupting the arrangements made for education and training, they must ensure that other arrangements are made for education or training that meet the child’s needs and are consistent with the PEP.


3. When a Child First becomes Looked After

3.1 Notification

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 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.

3.2 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 looked after children 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.

3.3 The First Personal Education Plan

The first PEP should be in place within the first 20 days of a child becoming Looked After.

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. This meeting should be chaired by the child’s social worker. An exception to this is where the child attends a Nottingham City school, where this is the case, the meeting can be chaired by the Designated Teacher.

Where the child is excluded from school, the Head Teacher should be invited.

Where the child has no school 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, (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 and social worker - the basis of a working partnership;
  • Establish boundaries of confidentiality;
  • Agree a date 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. A copy should also be sent to the child's Independent Reviewing Officer and the Virtual School.

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.


4. 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 3.2, 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 s/he moves to a new placement. 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 s/he also has a school place.

Where the child does not have a school place - see Section 6, 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 the Children and Young People Aged 0-25 with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Procedure.


5. When a Child Needs or Joins a New School

Choosing and applying to a school place is primarily the child’s social worker's responsibility but in exceptional circumstances may be delegated to or shared with others. 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 6, 10 and 11, unless this is unavoidable - see Avoidance of Disruption in Education in Section 1 above.

School details will need to be amended on the electronic record.

5.1 Notification

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 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.

5.2 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 he/she is aware of the current position with regard to the Plan, including any additional support provided and by whom.

5.3 The First PEP in a New School

A meeting should be held at the new school as soon as practicable.

A new or updated PEP should be in place within the first 20 days of a child joining a new school. Subsequent PEP’s should correspond with the Looked After Review cycle.

The first PEP in a new school should:

  • Identify the child’s immediate and priority needs (e.g. English as an additional language, literacy support, behaviour management, mental health issues);
  • Establish contact between residential staff/carer, school staff and social worker - the basis of a working partnership;
  • Identify a named person for the day to day management of the PEP and agree who contacts whom about what;
  • Establish boundaries of confidentiality;
  • Share important information - perhaps including the Placement Information Record;
  • Clarify 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 and how and when the next full PEP is going to be drawn up (this needs to take account of the Looked After Review cycle because the PEP has to be ready before or at the Review; but also term dates, parents’ evenings, school target setting days, SEN Support Plan reviews, annual reviews of Statements of SEN etc.).

The completed PEP should be distributed to those invited to the meeting and the child's Independent Reviewing Officer and the Virtual School.


6. When a Child has No School Place

Finding a school place is primarily the social worker's responsibility but may be delegated to or shared with others.

6.1 PEPs

Children without a school place should still have an up-to-date PEP. It should address the child's immediate educational needs and longer-term planning.

6.2 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 his or her needs, 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. The named officer for looked after children within the admissions team should be informed of the need for a school place and relevant information about the child and schools preferred and reasons why. The named officer should then ensure that all paperwork is completed and that the looked after child is given priority for admission. If necessary, they will pursue directing schools if it is felt that this is the only school that can meet the child’s needs. The Virtual School should also be informed of the child’s admission need by the child’s social worker.

6.3 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 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 6.4, 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. The named officer for looked after children in the Nottingham City admissions team should be informed. The named officer will support by contacting the admissions team in the local authority where the child is to be schooled. The Virtual School should also be informed.

6.4 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 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.


7. 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).

7.1 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 be aware that behaviours linked to issues such as drug taking, alcohol abuse, deliberately missing education and sexting 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.

7.2 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 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.

7.3 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 with regard to who is and is not allowed to have access to any looked after child.

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.

7.4 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); sexual violence and sexual harassment; physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, shaking, biting, hair pulling, or otherwise causing physical harm; sexting 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 looked after children, 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.

7.5 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 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 - Statutory guidance for local authorities.

Where necessary, the Children Missing from Home and Care Joint Procedures must be followed - see the Nottingham City Safeguarding Children Partnership (NCSCP) Procedures.


8. 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; after exams and at the Big It Up Awards.

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, and including on the electronic record and in the PEP. Achievements are collected on a termly basis and recorded on the Virtual School database. An external contractor is used to collect data for children placed out of the city.


9. When a Child is Absent from School 

Attendance data is collected by the Virtual School and an external contractor for looked after children placed in and out of the city, respectively.

If a child does not attend school for any reason the residential staff/carer must notify the school and the child’s social worker immediately.

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 they have missed.

If the child is missing from school and/or home, please see: Section 7, Safeguarding the Looked After Child at School.


10. School Exclusions

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

10.1 Fixed Term Exclusions

Exclusion from school should be a last resort for Looked After or Previously Looked After Children, 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 five 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 sixth day the school should provide a suitable full-time provision, for the child to be educated.

The school will communicate the reasons for the exclusion to the 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 five days, the social worker should ensure a reintegration meeting is held within the five days to discuss his/her return and how best this can be supported.

Exclusion data is collected by the Virtual School and an external contractor for looked after children placed in and out of the city, respectively.

10.2 Permanent Exclusions

Ideally, any looked after pupil should not be permanently excluded, as alternatives to exclusion should be explored with the school and Local Authority before a permanent exclusion is issues. However, when exceptionally 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 arrange their future educational provision. Again, for the first five days of the exclusion the school will provide work and the child must not be out in public during school hours. From the sixth day the local authority will arrange for a place for the child to be educated (normally a pupil referral unit (PRU) or Learning Centre).

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

When a school is considering permanently excluding a looked after child, it is obliged to contact the Virtual School.

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


11. When a Young Woman becomes Pregnant

Becoming pregnant is not in itself a reason to stop attending school, nor to cease education.

Where a young woman becomes pregnant, the social worker must ensure that the young woman remains in education if at all possible and arrange for her to receive support from the education authority for the area in which she lives and/or the school she attends. 


12. 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 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 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, 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.


13. School Transport

In order to maintain continuity of school, those with responsibility for school transport should be approached 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.

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