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3.5.3 Personal Education Allowances for Looked after Children


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Use of Personal Education Allowances
  3. Eligibility for Support
  4. Links with Personal Education Plans (PEP)
  5. Procedures for Allocating and Deploying Resources
  6. Monitoring
  7. Menu of Permitted Spend


1. Introduction

The white paper Care Matters: Time for Change, published in June 2007, confirmed the Government's commitment to introduce an annual personal education allowance for all Looked After Children of statutory school age who are at risk of not reaching the national expected standards of attainment. They are intended to help local authorities support the wide range of learning needs of Looked After Children and give them access to additional learning and development activities.

Raising the attainment of Looked After Children is a central responsibility of local authorities and their partners in children's trust arrangements and a vital part of narrowing the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and their peers. It requires local authorities to work effectively with their partners, in particular schools and health services, to support their learning and development and remove barriers to their education. As corporate parents, local authorities are under a specific duty to promote the educational achievement of Looked After Children; and they must set statutory annual targets on the attainment of Looked After Children in English and Mathematics at Key Stage two and the attainment of Looked After Children at the end of Key Stage 4 (GCSE).

Personal education allowances are intended to provide additional, personalised support to Looked After Children who have been identified as at risk of falling behind their peers in their education. Support should be tailored to their individual needs. The allowances are not intended to replace, duplicate or substitute the services or support that local authorities, schools, carers or other practitioners already provide for Looked After Children or as Universal Services for all children in their area. From April 2008, the Government expects that £500 per annum should be made available as a personal education allowance for each child in care who has been identified as eligible for additional support.


2. Use of Personal Education Allowances

Personal education allowances are intended to pay for activities or resources which support the learning and development of a child in care, that a parent (rather than a school, local authority, or other service) would be expected to fund for a child who was not Looked After.

When considering how to use a personal education allowance, local authorities should think holistically about the needs of their Looked After Children and the barriers to their learning. The choice of activity should be linked to the education objectives set out in a child's Personal Education Plan (PEP). Examples of the types of activities that a personal educational allowance might be used to support include:

  • Additional one to one tuition to support their learning;
  • Out of school learning and development that will build the child's self esteem and confidence;
  • Additional, personalised, educational trips and visits, for example to see a play that is being studied as part of the school curriculum;
  • Learning resources that the local authority does not expect to be covered by fostering allowances or children's homes fees;
  • Wider activities that will benefit the child's learning and development; and
  • Additional support for vocational training.

It is possible to pool the budget for a group of Looked After Children where this would result in increased levels of support - for example, greater efficiency may be achieved by joint commissioning where a number of Looked After Children have similar learning or development needs. Where it is decided to pool funding allocated for personal education allowances in this way Looked After Children affected should be consulted on this approach and it should be demonstrated how the joint provision links to the individual needs of the group of children and their Personal Education Plans.

Personal educational allowances for Looked After Children are not intended to replace services, support or resources that the local authority, schools, carers or other agencies working with Looked After Children already provide, or that are provided to all children in the area as a matter of course. The local authority should ensure that any support provided is additional to that which is received from other services. In particular, personal education allowances should not be used to replace:

  1. The support set out in an Education, Health and Care Plan or made at School Action or School Action Plus;
  2. Resources that a local authority provides through its allowances for foster carers or children's home fees;
  3. Trips and visits organised by the school as part of the curriculum. It is expected that the local authority, or carer if covered through the fostering allowance or children's home fees, should provide resources for these activities;
  4. Basic equipment that the child needs for school, such as school uniform or equipment for physical education lessons;
  5. Alternative education for Looked After Children on a fixed term or permanent exclusion from school.


3. Eligibility for Support

As a minimum, personal education allowances should be provided for all Looked After Children who are not making sufficient progress and are at risk of not reaching the expected national standards of attainment. All children are expected to achieve at least:

  • Level two in reading, writing and mathematics at key stage one;
  • Level four in English, mathematics at key stage two;
  • Level five in English, mathematics at key stage three; and
  • Five A* - C grades at GCSE including English and maths, or equivalent.

Support should not be focused solely on those children who are not reaching these attainment thresholds. All children are expected to progress at least two national curriculum levels (or equivalent) in English and mathematics between each Key Stage from the age of 7 (in KS1 most children are expected to progress at least 1 level depending on their starting point). Personal education allowances to help ensure that Looked After Children are making progress with their education, irrespective of their absolute level of attainment. To support better prevention and early intervention, support should be provided at the earliest opportunity to Looked After Children at risk of not reaching the expected national standards.

Personal education allowances should be provided for all eligible Looked After Children who are of school age - they are not just for children in the school years in which key stage examinations are taken. Support should also be provided to all Looked After Children irrespective of how long they have been looked after - eligibility should not be limited to children who have been looked after for a minimum period of time.

When identifying which children are eligible for a personal education allowance, systems must be established for monitoring the educational progress of the Looked After Children. Attention should be paid to the needs of particularly vulnerable groups of Looked After Children, including children who:

  • Have recently become Looked After;
  • Have experienced repeated episodes of care;
  • Are placed out of authority;
  • Are in residential children's homes;
  • Have moved schools mid-year;
  • Are not in mainstream education (e.g. children in pupil referral units); and
  • Have additional learning needs or Special Educational Needs (although the personal educational allowance must not replace the support provided through school action, school action plus or an Education, Health and Care Plan).

It is not intended that local authorities provide one-off support. Looked After Children should receive a personal education allowance on an annual basis for each year that they are at risk of not reaching expected standards of attainment.


4. Links with Personal Education Plans (PEP)

See also Education of Looked After Children (including Personal Education Plans) Procedure

All Looked After Children should have a Personal Education Plan (PEP), which should be reviewed as part of the Looked After Review of the child's Care Plan and at other times as necessary. Responsibility for the initiation and maintenance of a PEP lies with the child's social worker. The educational content of the PEP should be developed in conjunction with the school's designated teacher for Looked After Children, staff of the Virtual School for LAC and other education professionals. Alongside the Virtual School, the designated teacher should monitor progress against individual's PEP and work with the local authority to support the child's education.

The PEP should act as a record of what needs to happen for a child to reach his or her potential and reflect any existing educational plans such as an Education, Health and Care Plan. The PEP should identify the child's educational and developmental needs and contain personalised short and long term targets. Allocation of a personal educational allowance for a child in care must be linked to their PEP.


5. Procedures for Allocating and Deploying Resources

  1. Child's social worker makes a coherent bid to support the objectives/outcomes agreed in the PEP following the PEP planning meeting. A simple proforma should be used for this purpose (see Appendix). A copy of the PEP should be attached to the proforma;
  2. The value of a PEA is not expected to exceed £500 in a school year, although 2. the actual value will depend on the nature of the activity to be supported.

All bids will be considered and agreed by the Virtual Headteacher or Senior Education Officer.


6. Monitoring

  1. The effectiveness of the PEA will be discussed at the next PEP review meeting. The Social Worker will complete a short evaluation form and return this to the Senior Education Officer;
  2. An evaluation of the scheme will be undertaken by the Governing Body of the Virtual School (Enjoying and Achieving sub group to the Corporate Parent Board) by the end of the school year, based on a report from the Virtual Headteacher. Effectiveness will be judged against success criteria i.e. evidence of raised attainment and engagement, improved levels of attendance, reduced levels of fixed term exclusions, improved behaviour patterns. The evaluation should include the views of the child and his/her carer and Social Worker.


7. Menu of Permitted Spend

The deployment of PEA funding should be appropriate to the age, ability and circumstances of the child. PEA's are only available to Looked After Children under the authority of London Borough of Hillingdon. They can be used for one-off purchases or for activities up to a period of 3 terms i.e. half a year. Further continuation of the funding will be dependent upon a PEP review and request for further support. The programme to be supported and any associated reward scheme should be understood by and agreed with the child.

  1. Help with homework - educational resources, computer software etc.;
  2. Home tuition - support for SATs, GCSE, related vocational qualifications;
  3. Educational activities by carers or placement support workers at weekends, evenings, holidays;
  4. Incentive schemes to encourage improved attendance, behaviour and attainment (short term targets);
  5. Sporting/arts/dance/drama clubs etc.;
  6. Youth Development Service activities/schemes where extra costs may be incurred;
  7. Access to behaviour management courses/support outside the norm;
  8. Expenditure to reduce potential obstacles to attending e.g. additional school uniform/sportswear etc.;
  9. Appropriate rewards/incentives for the young person's engagement as appropriate;

Click her to view Application for a Personal Education Allowance to Support a Child in Care's Attainment and Attendance

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