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3.5.4 Guidelines for Promoting the Educational Achievements of Looked After Children


  1. Introduction
  2. The Roles of the Elected Members and Director of Children, Education and Youth Services
  3. The Role of Social Workers and the Placement Team
  4. The Role of Foster Carers and Social Care Staff in Residential Establishments
  5. The Role of School Staff and Governors
  6. The Role of Other Professionals
  7. Involving Children and Young People
  8. Training
  9. Records and Information Sharing

1. Introduction

Section 52 of the Children Act 2004 sets out the duties for local authorities to promote positive educational opportunities, attainments and achievements for Looked After Children (LAC)

We have a responsibility to do the very best we can to ensure that we fulfil our duties. These duties are statutory and we as corporate parents must act to provide a seamless service to the children and young people in our care. The expectation is that as corporate parents we should do what good parents would do for their children.

This guidance will ensure that all staff working with Looked After children will actively support and promote positive education outcomes and experiences.

2. The Roles of the Elected Members and Director of Children, Education and Youth Services

  • Elected Members will take a lead role in promoting the education of Looked After Children. Through a range of groups they will provide the corporate policies within which we operate. The Scrutiny and Review process will provide a forum for members to monitor and challenge the services that are provided to ensure that they meet the targets in relation to the attendance and educational achievement of the children;
  • The Director of Children, Education and Youth Services will have a key role in ensuring that the duty to promote the educational achievement of Looked After Children is implemented. He/she should ensure that there are structures in place through which any differences of opinion within the local authority about how best to secure the child's educational needs are carefully managed and resolved.

3. The Role of Social Workers and the Placement Team

  • Placements for a Looked After Child are only to be made when an educational placement has been secured, except in emergency situations. This is particularly important when placing a child out of borough where the demand for school places exceeds supply. Educational arrangements must be made within 20 school days;
  • For placements in residential care, where education is provided, we will ensure that the National Curriculum is offered and that any additional support required is included in the placement contract;
  • The Placement Team must ensure that residential establishments and independent fostering agencies have clear written education policies and that they follow at least the prescribed National Minimum Standards in promoting educational achievement for Looked After Children;
  • The social worker is responsible for initiating a Personal Education Plan (PEP). This should be done when the child becomes looked after, regardless of whether they have a school place. This must be presented with the Care Plan at the first Looked After Review (within 28 days of accommodating the child) - see Hillingdon Virtual School Handbook;
  • From April 2004, the right to a free part-time pre-school place was extended to all three year olds. Social workers must ensure that an equivalent of the Personal Education Plan is drawn up which sets out the child's needs, and the services and support that are required to meet them;
  • Social workers for young people who reach sixteen must ensure that that the Pathway Plan includes an updated assessment of the young person's education and training needs. It is the responsibility of the young person's Leaving Care Personal Adviser or social worker to make sure that this plan is in place and reviewed - see Leaving Care Procedure;
  • The social worker taking the lead should ensure that the PEP is completed with the involvement of the child, the school, carers and where appropriate the child's parents. The PEP must be considered at all Looked After Reviews and be updated at a minimum of once a year between October and December or when circumstances change. These might be a change in placement, school or when excellent progress and targets are met;
  • Social workers for LAC who have an Education, Health and Care Plan must ensure that the identified needs of the child are met (as set out in the Individual Education Plan) in school and have access to effective advocacy;
  • When a child or young person is in danger of exclusion from school, the social worker or where appropriate the carer should attend any meetings to discuss what support is available to avoid exclusion;
  • Supervising social workers in the Fostering Team should stress the importance of educational aspirations for Looked After Children in the recruitment, assessment and pre-registration training of foster carers. Following approval, foster carers will be expected to attend on-going training. Supervising social workers will advise foster carers in the provision of appropriate educational materials within the placement to help support the child's development.

4. The Role of Foster Carers and Social Care Staff in Residential Establishments

  • Carers will in consultation with the social worker, contact the appropriate school as soon as a child is placed with them to discuss how best they can support the child's educational development;
  • Carers should take reasonable steps to ensure that the child attends school punctually and are appropriately equipped every day;
  • Carers must maintain regular contact with the child's school, such as attending parents' evenings and school events;
  • On a day to day basis, carers should ensure that a child has access to a quiet area for study and homework, check that homework is completed (provide or facilitate support if needed) and encourage after school activities. They should also check on the child's progress and attendance and keep the social worker and where appropriate the child's parent informed of the child's educational progress;
  • Carers should celebrate with the child and reward their educational achievements;
  • Carers with whom the child resides acquire some Parental Responsibility under the educational statute and have therefore a clear mandate to advocate on behalf of the child and to act in their best interest. They should make representations to the school on their behalf and make decisions that would be expected of any reasonable parent;
  • If a child is excluded from school, the carer should help the school's designated teacher to formulate a plan to ensure the child's successful re-integration back into school.

5. The Role of School Staff and Governors

  • School Governors should provide positive support to the head teacher in addressing the needs of Looked After Children within an inclusive environment. The designated Governor together with the designated teacher have a pivotal role in advocating for Looked After Children;
  • The designated teacher must ensure that all Looked After Children have a PEP which takes into account, where appropriate a Pastoral Support programme, Individual Education Plan or Education, Health and Care Plan;
  • The designated teacher should also ensure that the carer receives regular school reports, pupil's examination results and invitations to school events;
  • The designated teacher is also responsible for providing a central point of contact for all professionals working with each Looked After Child;
  • Schools should give priority to Looked After Children when allocating places and should include this in their admissions policy;
  • Schools should provide additional help and pay due attention to key stages in a Looked After Child's education such as at key stage transfers and preparation for examinations.

6. The Role of Other Professionals

  • The Educational Psychology Service will identify and address the educational, social and emotional needs of Looked After Children. The service will contribute to policy development, training and direct intervention with Looked After Children where required. The EPS will also use its specialist knowledge and skills in child and adolescent development, psychology and education to help support early intervention. This will prevent later, more substantial difficulties and promote the raising of educational standards which impact on positive patterns of behaviour. The EPS will also provide guidance to improve the emotional well being of LAC;
  • The Education Welfare Service will maintain a database in order to monitor and support the attendance of Looked After Children;
  • The Behaviour Support Team will implement strategies to maintain good attendance and raise attendance levels of those who are presenting difficulties;
  • The Independent Reviewing Officers will, in addition to their statutory responsibilities of monitoring an individual child's progress, also provide information which will be used to provide 6 monthly reports on the educational attainment of Looked After Children in Hillingdon.

7. Involving Children and Young People

  • Social workers and carers should involve the child when choosing a school. This could include talking to the child about what they want from a school, taking the child to visit the schools and helping him/her to compare the good and bad points of each school;
  • Looked After Children must also be involved in the drafting of their PEP;
  • During Looked After Reviews, the child must be encouraged and given opportunities to express their views and wishes - see Looked After Reviews Procedure.

8. Training

  • Social workers will receive training on education and understand their responsibilities to ensure that school and education processes (e.g. admissions, transfer arrangements) are in place;
  • Multi-agency training should be provided to designated teachers, school staff and school governors which cover all aspects of the care system, including advocacy, the impact of care upon education, responsibilities under the Children Acts and associated regulations, the role of the school in relation to care planning and Looked After Reviews. Training should, in particular, ensure that designated teachers are clear about how they can support social workers, foster carers and the child's birth parents to receive the support they need;
  • Foster carers and residential childcare staff will receive training on all aspects of the education processes, how they can access services, including those for early years' education. They should also be trained to be effective advocates in dealing with school admissions, issues arising from behavioural problems and school discipline and exclusions.

9. Records and Information Sharing

  • Copies of the PEP must be held by each school/education establishment as well as the social worker, and any other lead agency concerned with the child. It is also the responsibility of the designated teacher to ensure that the PEP is updated and reviewed - see Hillingdon Virtual School Handbook;
  • In order to ensure that the best is achieved for Looked After Children, we need to ensure that appropriate and specific arrangements are in place for sharing reliable data so that the integrated children's services department in Hillingdon, schools and other agencies can meet the educational needs of Looked After Children;
  • We should establish and maintain a protocol for sharing relevant information about care placements and education through inter-authority arrangements;
  • We must ensure that relevant information about individual children is passed promptly between authorities, departments and schools when a Looked After Child moves to a new placement.