Who are ‘Looked After’ Children?
Under the Children Act 1989, a child is looked after by a local authority if he or she is in their care or provided with accommodation for more than 24 hours by the authority. They fall into four main groups:
• children who are accommodated under a voluntary agreement with their parents (section 20)
• children who are the subjects of a care order (section 31) or interim care order (section 38)
• children who are the subjects of emergency orders for their protection (sections 44 and 46)
• children who are compulsorily accommodated. This includes children remanded to the local authority or subject to a criminal justice supervision order with a residence requirement (section 21).
The term ‘in care’ refers only to children who are subject to a care order by the courts under section 31 of the Children Act 1989 - they may live with foster carers, in a Children’s home, in a residential school, with relatives, or with parents under supervision. Children who are cared for on a voluntary basis are ‘accommodated’ by the local authority under section 20 of the Children Act – they may live in foster care, in a Children’s home or in a residential school. All these groups are said to be ‘Looked After Children’ (LAC). They may be looked after by the schools local authority or may be in the care of another authority but living in the schools LA.
This policy has been developed in consultation with Derby City Council’s Looked After Children and Care Leavers Policy. (See Appendix 1)
Lees Brook Community School is committed to promoting the educational achievement and welfare of students in public care.
The school’s Governing Body is committed to providing quality education for all its students based on equality of access, opportunity and outcomes. This policy includes requirements set out in “Statutory guidance on the duty on local authorities to promote the educational achievement of looked after children under section 52 of the Children Act 2004” (Nov 2005) and associated guidance on the education of Looked After Children. The school’s aim is to contribute towards achieving the five outcomes of Every Child Matters, the Government’s aim for every child, whatever their background or their circumstances. The five outcomes are:
· Stay safe
· Be healthy
· Enjoy and achieve
· Make a positive contribution
· Achieve economic well-being
The school will:
• ensure that its policies and procedures are followed for those Looked After as for all children
• ensure that all Looked After Children have access to a broad and balanced curriculum
• provide a differentiated curriculum appropriate to the needs and ability of individual students
• ensure that Looked After students take as full a part as possible in all school activities
• ensure that carers and social workers of Looked After students are kept fully informed of their child’s progress and attainment
• ensure that, where practicable, Looked After students are involved in decisions affecting their future provision.
THE POLICY IN ACTION
The school will have a designated member of the senior leadership team and the Governing Body will have a designated governor with responsibility for Looked After Children.
Designated Senior Leader for Looked After Children: Katie Heffern
Designated Governor for Looked After Children: Reverand Ward
See Appendix 2: Roles and Responsibilities
The Governing Body endorses Derby City Council policy. The Council, as the Admission Authority for Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools, believes that admissions criteria should not discriminate against Looked After students. This stance is also endorsed by the Derby City Admissions Forum. Due to care placement changes, Looked After Children may enter school mid-term. It is vital that they are given a positive welcome. If necessary, additional support and pre-entry visits will be provided to help the new student settle in.
This policy recognises that all students are entitled to a balanced, broadly based curriculum. The school’s Looked After Children policy reinforces the need for teaching that is fully inclusive. The Governing Body will ensure the school makes appropriate provision for all Looked After students.
3 Allocation of Resources
The Governing Body will ensure that the school allocates resources to support appropriate provision for LAC in order to meet the objectives set out in this policy.
4 Monitoring the progress of Looked After Children
The social worker for the Looked After student should initiate a Personal Education Plan (PEP) within 20 days of the student joining the school or entering care, and ensure that the young person is actively involved. It is vital that the school assesses each Looked After student’s attainment on entry to ensure continuity of learning.
The school monitors and tracks the achievement and attainment of all students at regular intervals. Looked After Children will require their PEP to be reviewed, according to their needs, as initiated by the reviewing officer or social worker, and the young person’s views should be sought by the Designated Teacher and noted on the PEP.
See Appendix 3: Derby City Council’s guidance on PEP forms
5 Record Keeping
The Designated Senior Leader will know who all the Looked After Children in school are and will have access to their relevant contact details including parents, carers and social worker. The Designated Senior Leader will also know about any Looked After Children from other local authorities. It is important that the school flags Looked After Child status appropriately in its information systems so that information is readily available as required.
6 Staff Development
The school will encourage staff to attend courses that help them to acquire the skills needed to support Looked After Children. Part of the Designated Senior Leader’s role is to develop awareness of issues associated with Looked After Children.
7 Partnership with Parents/Carers and Care Workers
The school firmly believes in developing a strong partnership with parents/carers and care workers to enable Looked After Children to achieve their potential. Review meetings are an opportunity to further this partnership working.
8 Links with External Agencies and Organisations
The school also recognises the important contribution that external support services make in supporting Looked After Children. Colleagues from the following support services may be involved with individual Looked After Children:
• Looked After Children teams
• educational psychologists and others from Local Authority SEN services
• medical officers
• school nurses
• Education Welfare Officers
• Social care worker/ Community care worker/ Residential child care worker
• Youth Offending Service
• School-age parents’ officer.
Policy Review and Evaluation
The school considers the Looked After Children policy to be important and it will undertake a thorough review of both policy and practice each year. The outcomes of this review will inform the school’s Strategic Development Plan.
APPENDIX 1: What Look After Children Say
• “I would like to have a say as to whether I move school or not.”
• “Money should not be the most important thing when deciding if I should move schools.”
• “I would really like to have a chance to visit the school before I start.”
• “I would like my school work and achievements to be passed on to my new school and not forgotten about.”
• “I would have liked a buddy or peer mentor when I moved to my new school to help me get settled.”
• “We want to be treated as normal. We don’t want to be pitied or treated differently.”
• “I’d like to be able to choose a particular teacher to talk to – not just the designated teacher.”
• “I want to keep my life private. I don’t want people knowing everything about me unless I say so.”
• “I don’t want my teachers hearing embarrassing/personal details about me and my family at review meetings.”
• “I want my own copy of school reports and I want my parents to have a copy.”
• “The head of year is extremely important in passing on ‘need to know’ information to individual subject teachers.”
APPENDIX 2: Roles and Responsibilities
Looked After Children (LAC) are one of the most vulnerable groups in society and it is nationally recognised that there is considerable educational underachievement when compared to their peers. For example, they may experience:
• a high level of disruption and change in school placements
• lack of involvement in extra curricular activities
• inconsistent or no attention paid to homework.
This may result in:
• poor exam success rates in comparison with the general population
• under-achievement in further and higher education.
These issues may also affect adopted young people.
The Designated Senior Leader will:
· be an advocate for LAC within school
· give regard to the impact of relevant decisions for LAC on both the LAC and the rest of the school community
· know who are all the LAC in school, including those in the care of other authorities, and ensure the availability of all relevant details from school record-keeping systems as required
· attend relevant training about LAC
· act as the key liaison professional for other agencies and carers in relation to LAC, seeking advice from the LAC team when appropriate.
· ensure that LAC receive a positive welcome on entering school, especially mid-year and, if necessary, offer additional support and a pre-entry visit to help the new pupil settle
· convene an urgent multi-agency meeting if a LAC is experiencing difficulties or is at risk of exclusion
· keep PEPs and other records up to date and review PEPs at transfer and at six monthly intervals
· ensure that care and school liaison is effective including invitations to meetings and other school events
· ensure confidentiality on individual children, sharing confidential and personal information on a need to know basis, bearing in mind the wishes of the individual pupil
· act as the key adviser for staff and governors on issues relevant to LAC
· actively encourage and promote out of hours learning and extra curricular activities for LAC
· ensure a speedy transfer of information, records and coursework, where appropriate, when a LAC transfers to another educational placement
· report to the Governing body on LAC in the school and inform of relevant policy and practice development
· prepare reports for Governors’ meetings to include: the number of LAC on roll and the confirmation that they have a Personal Education
· contribute information to LAC reviews when required
· arrange a mentor or befriender (adult and /or pupil) to whom the young person can talk, possibly through the learning mentor scheme or through Connexions, particularly when the pupil is new to school
· ensure that any Special Educational Needs are addressed in conjunction with the SENCO and in accordance with the Code of Practice for SEN. LAC are six to eight times more likely to have a statement of Special Educational Needs than the general school population.
The majority of children who remain in care are there because they have suffered abuse or neglect. The Every Child Matters: Change for Children programme aims to improve outcomes for all children. To date, the outcomes achieved by Looked After Children have been unacceptably poor and the Government is committed to addressing this disparity. As corporate parents we all have a part to play in this by vigorously applying the principles of good parenting by:
· agreeing with the social worker the appropriate people to invite to parents’ evenings etc.
· attending governor meetings as appropriate – such as the admission, disciplinary and exclusion of Looked After Children
· giving priority to education
· listening to children
· providing stability and continuity
· taking corporate responsibility
· promoting inclusion
· raising standards
· intervening early
· promoting early years experiences
· celebrating success.
Personal Education Plan (PEP)
· their attendance compared to other pupils
· their attainment (SATs/GCSEs) compared to other pupils.
· the number, if any, of fixed term and permanent exclusions
· the destinations of students who leave the school
The school will ensure the actions of its staff will be consistent with good practice. They will:
· have high expectations of the educational and personal achievements of LAC.
· keep the Designated Teacher informed about a LAC’s progress.
· follow school procedures
· positively promote the raising of a LAC’s self esteem.
· ensure any LAC is supported sensitively and that confidentiality is maintained
· be familiar with the school’s policy and guidance on LAC and respond appropriately to requests for information to support PEPs and review meetings.
· liaise with the Designated Teachers where a LAC is experiencing difficulties
· give only official exclusions and only use exclusions in line with the school’s exclusion policy, and relevant national guidance, being mindful to the difficulties this may create in the care placement
· contribute to regular liaison with social care colleagues and other appropriate professionals and keep carers fully informed at all times
· ensure that all LAC have an appropriate PEP that is completed within 20 days of joining the school or of entering care (see Derby City’s guidance on PEPs in Appendix 3) and ensure that the young person contributes to the plan
The Governing Body will ensure it actions will be consistent with good practice. It will:
• ensure that the admission criteria and practice prioritises LAC according to the DfE Admissions Code of Practice
• ensure all governors are fully aware of the legal requirements and guidance for LAC
• ensure there is a Designated Teacher for LAC
• liaise with the Headteacher, Designated Teacher and all other staff to ensure the needs of LAC are met
• nominate a governor with responsibility for LAC who links with the Designated Teacher
• receive regular reports from the Designated Teacher.
• ensure that the school’s policies and procedures give LAC equal access in respect of: admission to school, National Curriculum and examinations, both academic and vocational, out of school learning and extra curricular activities, work experience and careers guidance.
• annually review the effective implementation of the school policy for LAC.
• ensure that the Designated Teacher is invited to the exclusion meetings of LAC.
The Local Authority will:
• lead the drive to improve educational and social care standards for LAC
• ensure that the education for this group is as good as that provided for every other Derby City student
• ensure that LAC receive full time education in a mainstream setting wherever possible
• ensure that every LAC has a school to go to within 20 days of coming into care or of coming to Derby from another authority
• make sure that each LAC has a PEP according to national guidance
• ensure that every school has a Designated Teacher for LAC and that these teachers receive appropriate information, support and training
• provide alternative educational provision where appropriate
• ensure that appropriate support is provided whenever possible
• work with others to provide smooth transitions at the end of the Foundation Stage and Key Stages 1, 2 and 4 and at any mid-phase transfer
• identify a designated officer who has responsibility for championing the education of LAC
• be vigilant and proactive in identifying the special educational needs of LAC and work collaboratively with other services and agencies to meet those needs.
• keep appropriate records, confidentially as necessary, and make these available to other professionals/ parents/carers/pupil as appropriate
• make extra copies of reports available when required.
Local Authority contact numbers for the Education of Looked After Children are:
Children in Care Team
APPENDIX 3 : PERSONAL EDUCATION PLAN GUIDANCE
(A) Initiating a Personal Education Plan on a child’s entry to care:
The school will receive a Personal Education Plan from Children &Young People’s Department with the first two pages completed. (Personal Education Plan: Details pages 1&2)
The school will:
· complete the education sections of the PEP (PEP Cumulative Record pages 3&4 and PEP Plan pages 5&6) in consultation with the social worker/carer/parents/child as appropriate
· discuss the plan with the child/young person, encouraging them and recording their comments in box on page 6
· inform the school nurse that the young person has entered public care or that a young person in care has joined the school
· keep the original completed PEP in the student’s school file and use it as a working document.
· make a photocopy of the completed PEP and send it to the Reviewing Team in the envelope provided within 20 school working days. The team will then distribute the PEP to all relevant people.
(B) Statutory Care Plan Review meetings
It is a statutory requirement that PEPs are reviewed every six months. Before the Statutory Care Plan review, the school will update the PEP by:
· Recording any additions to the Cumulative Record (pages 3&4)
· Reviewing the targets and actions from the last PEP meeting; these will either be on the PEP Plan (pages 5&6) or PEP Plan/Review form (pages 7&8)
· Completing a new PEP Plan/Review (pages 7&8). The school should be sure to record any changes here as well as setting new targets and recording any comments from child/young person (on p8).
· Taking a copy of the PEP (and any attached information) to the review meeting or, if not attending the meeting, sending it to the Reviewing Team
· Putting a copy of the PEP Plan/Review form (and any updated information) with the original PEP in the child’s/young person’s school file.
The school should also consider:
· If the child/young person has Special Educational Needs, it may wish to hold the PEP and IEP reviews together to minimise paperwork and time.
· If the child/young person moves to another school, the completed PEP, including the review documents, should be forwarded with the child’s school file in the normal way to the receiving school.
For fuller explanations please refer to the DfE “Guidance on the Education of Children and Young People in Public Care”.
In the event of any queries or problems advice and guidance should be sought from the appropriate person in the Reviewing Team (currently Margaret Maughan, Derby 717100)