Education


Contents

1. Introduction
2. Responsibilities of the Placing Authority
  2.1 Electronic Personal Education Plans (ePEPs)
  2.2 Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) Funding
  2.3 Avoiding Disruption in Education
3. Responsibilities of the Home
4. Support with Homework
5. Learning at Home
6. Safeguarding in Schools
7. Exclusion / Refusal to Attend School


1. Introduction

Obtaining a good education can be the key to vastly improving a child’s chances in life. Children in Care can be particularly disadvantaged educationally, they may have had their education disrupted as a result of changes of placements and circumstances, and may not have had the opportunity to develop to their full potential. Some children may have little sense of their abilities and may need encouragement to develop greater self-esteem.


2. Responsibilities of the Placing Authority

The placing authority has a corporate responsibility for promoting the educational achievement of all Looked After Children.

Delegation of authority in relation to education should be recorded in the child’s Placement Plan.

2.1 Electronic Personal Education Plans (ePEPs)

The placing authority must ensure that all children have a school place and an Electronic Personal Education Plan (ePEP) which promotes their educational achievement. The ePEP must be drawn up before the child becomes Looked After (or within 10 working days in the case of an emergency placement), and be available for the first statutory review meeting and all subsequent Looked After Reviews.

If a child is placed in the home without an ePEP and it is the child’s first Looked After placement, the timescales above apply; if it is a subsequent placement, the child should already have an ePEP, if this is not the case, the home’s manager should obtain one from the social worker.

ePEP’s 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 an Education Health and Care Plan (EHC Plan) does not have to be duplicated in the ePEP, 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 ePEP.

ePEPs should be reviewed by the Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) at Looked After Reviews.

2.2 Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) Funding

Both Looked After and Previously looked After children are eligible for Pupil Premium Plus (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 these children 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 Virtual School Head (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.

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.

Looked After  children are eligible for Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) funding. This is additional funding provided to help improve the attainment of  Looked After children and close the attainment gap between these children 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  children. The designated teacher has an important role in ensuring the specific needs of 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 Virtual School Head (VSH).

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.

2.3 Avoiding 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.


3. Responsibilities of the Home

This section provides guidance on the role and responsibilities of the home's manager and staff.

In order to maximise educational opportunities, it is essential that teaching and care staff work co-operatively in an attempt to provide meaningful and relevant 24 hour curriculum. Education is not limited merely to the classroom, education is a continuous process which occurs throughout the waking day.

It is important that all staff work co-operatively to promote the education of Looked After children and young people. Care staff should liaise on a regular basis with teaching staff or with external schools and educational support services, to ensure that educational programmes are promoted within the home. Link Workers should have regular contact with teachers and co-operate with reviews of key plans e.g. ensuring that education and Placement / Care Plans are consistent with or complement each other.

Staff should have an understanding of:

  • Admission processes for local schools;
  • Role of Designated teachers for Looked After Children;
  • Role of Virtual School Head (VSH).

Staff need to have knowledge and skills in regard to the child’s education and training targets and the next steps for learning.

Staff should challenge the education / training provider if the child does not have the support to progress as outlined in their plans.

Staff should act as advocates for or on behalf of a child.

Children should have access to online learning, access to a computer and the internet. Support should be given in regard to safeguarding, see - Staying in Touch, the Safe Use of the Internet, Social Media and Taking Photographs Procedure.

The home should work closing with the placing authority to support and enable a child who is either excluded or not on a school roll.

The Registered Person should challenge the placing authority if no school / education place is identified.

Where a children’s home is also an education provider, the home should have a process in place for liaising in regard to the support for the child and also challenge each other when necessary.

Link Workers must ensure that children have adequate space, time, opportunities and support to complete homework and take part in extra curricular activities.

Children should be encouraged to join a library and have opportunities to access a range of educational support material, including books and specialist educational software.

Link Workers, in the absence of parents, must attend all school events that would usually be attended by parents such as open days, school plays etc.

Any young person of statutory school age who is not attending school (or a pupil referral unit) would be provided with an appropriate and differentiated educational programme delivered under the supervision of a qualified teacher during normal school hours. Staff from the home would work closely with the Social Worker to secure a school placement as quickly as possible.


4. Support with Homework

Staff in residential children's home need to establish and maintain an atmosphere that encourages children and young people to value learning. Homework is closely linked to curriculum work for children, provides a sense of continuity between home and school. Completing their homework can help the child build up their personal confidence and motivation.

Young children may have reading and spellings to practice each evening, others may have to do work linked to the National Curriculum. Children often need encouragement to complete their homework and they can find it difficult to keep up an interest in schoolwork. It is the responsibility of the carer to set clear expectations that the child will attend school and complete homework.

Most schools will have a homework policy and staff should be aware of the policy. They need to know any consequences for children not completing their homework on time. They should understand how best to help the child to finish their homework.

Staff should show the young person they care about their learning and education.

Children and young people do their homework successfully when they are helped with their studying.

Even when some young people reject support it is important for them to know the staff are available to assist if they should change their mind. Staff should take an active interest in children's homework. They should ask what the child has done at school that day. They should also maintain awareness of the curriculum and the work the child is doing.

Staff should consider and encourage children and young people to join a homework club at their school or local library.

If children are accessing the Internet to research their homework, they may require adult supervision to do so.

Specific areas of work may be identified within the child's ePEP. Carers should know if work identified in the ePEP is additional to mainstream homework. If the level of homework being set is considered either insufficient or excessive, the staff should bring this to the attention of the teacher and social worker.

If carers feel unable to assist children in particular areas of homework, this should be discussed with the teacher.

Necessary textbooks, revision guides and/or IT software should be obtained to help the child, either from the school, library or by purchase agreed via the social worker.

If a child / young person has been unable to complete homework for reasons out of their immediate control, staff should notify the school of this straight away.

The Designated Teacher should be aware of the difficulties some children will come up against when living in public care and this should be acknowledged if homework is not completed.

Staff should sign any documentation associated with homework. Most children have a reading record for parents / carers to sign or a school planner requiring signing each week Staff should become familiar with home school agreements and other policies at the child's school.


5. Learning at Home

Reading materials

All residential children's homes should ensure that there is a wide range of books available to the children. All homes should have books and other materials, comics, magazines and newspapers, for children / young people to read. These should be age appropriate and in line with the child and young person's ability.

Listening to children read and reading to them on a regular basis is essential when children are developing literacy skills. Being read to helps young children with their language skills. For some children unable to accept close contact or support from staff, or for those with literacy related learning difficulties, the use of audio stories should be considered. Many young people will also enjoy being read to especially if they have not had this experience as young children.

Carers should ensure they are aware of the education Key Stages for each child they are caring for. Carers can seek advice and information about the National Curriculum from the Designated Teacher or from the Education Coordinators.

For children of primary school age, carers should attempt wherever possible to hear a child read each night. There may be reading resources provided by the school and will link with the school's homework policy. For children of this age, carers should attempt to read to them at least three times per week.

Reading could be a group activity, but where possible it should be undertaken individually. For children of an age to sit SATS examinations, additional material can be borrowed from local libraries and schools.

The Education Coordinators may be able to offer assistance with revision material and guides which can help the child. Reading may be linked to particular areas of interest for children i.e. their hobbies and interests or comics and magazines they enjoy reading.

All carers should sign the child's reading records each time they have heard them reading and should also give evidence of any additional reading taking place.

Planning additional curriculum activities

Additional curriculum activities should be encouraged. If a child is involved in a particular project at school, carers should plan supporting activities at weekends or during school holidays. This could include visits to local museums, the theatre or visiting local libraries.

Additional curriculum activities could be linked to leisure and hobbies. Homes Managers and foster carers should keep an accurate record of activities undertaken by the child / young person. If a child has an Independent Visitor, mentor or other person who is involved in supporting them, they may be able to link activities to leisure interests and school projects.

Children should be encouraged to take up opportunities and activities available at their school including attendance at after school clubs, music lessons, sports activities or homework clubs. These should be recorded on the ePEP.

Parents should be kept informed of their child's progress and they should be told about the educational support their child receives.


6. Safeguarding in Schools

Looked After Children are a vulnerable group, and all staff, working in schools should be aware of the systems in place to support safeguarding. 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 or physical health or development;
  • Ensuring they are growing up in circumstances consistent with safe and effective care;
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

There should be staff (usually the Designated Teacher or the SEND coordinator) who will be able to share with you information about:

  • The school’s 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.
They will also explain that staff must report any concerns regarding Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).


7. Exclusion / Refusal to Attend School

On rare occasions young people may either be unable to attend school as a result of exclusion or may choose not to attend school (also known as school refusal). Exclusions are either fixed term; i.e. for a specified number of days after which the young person will return to their school; or permanent; where it is not intended that the young person will return to that particular school.

Staff from the home should be aware of any difficulties the young person is experiencing or causing within the educational setting prior to exclusion being used by the school. Staff from the home should liaise closely with school staff in order to provide additional support to the young person during this period of difficulty. All action taken at this time will be recorded in the young person's individual records and the Electronic Personal Education Plan (ePEP) will be amended to reflect the changed circumstances.

However there may well be situations whereby the school has no option but to exclude the young person without prior warning, for example in response to an isolated incident of a very serious nature. Examples of this would include a serious assault on another pupil or member of staff or the taking of illegal substances into to school.

When young people have been excluded from school or have refused to attend, staff from the home will ask the school to provide study materials for the young person to complete during the period of their exclusion or refusal. Staff from the home will assist and supervise the young person in completing this work during normal school hours.

It is important that any young person who is excluded and also other young people in the home do not view exclusion from school as an “extended holiday”.

On those occasions where a young person is permanently excluded from school, staff from the home will work closely with the child’s social worker to identify an appropriate alternative educational placement. Whilst an alternative placement is being sought, the home will endeavour to provide a short term educational package.