School Admissions, Attendance and Transition
The Virtual School provide support for children in care and previously looked-after children when they are transitioning between schools. They also support and advise relevant professionals in finding appropriate education settings.
The Nottingham City School Admissions Team co-ordinate the admission process for all children. Admissions website: http://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/education-and-schools/school-admissions/
Admissions guidance for looked-after and previously looked after children
A school admissions application should be completed by whoever has parental responsibility for the child in care.
Children in care and previously looked after children have the highest priority within school admission arrangements. However, in order to be guaranteed a school place it is essential that parents, carers and social workers submit the application within the relevant time frame. The admission requirements for children in care and previously looked after children are set out in the School Admissions Code (2014). This Code applies to maintained schools, academies and free schools.
Key Principles in applying for a school place for looked-after and previously looked-after children:
- Ensure that the application is placed within a timely manner, to avoid a delay in securing a school place
- Provide full information regarding the looked-after child
- Ensure that their LAC status is declared on the form
- Try to include any previous PEP document
- Ensure appropriate person has submitted the application (ie. the person with parental responsibility)
- Ensure that the school/education setting being applied for has been rated either good or outstanding by OFSTED
Admissions guidance for in-year admissions
If there is a need to move a child to a different school during the year, details of how to apply are available from the school and local authority where the school is located. A child should not be removed from their current school before an offer of a place at the new school has been agreed.
The Virtual School will offer advice and support when choosing an appropriate school for a looked-after or previously looked-after child.
Further guidance information
Supporting transitions into and between schools for children in care
Transition guidance for children in care
Starting a new school can be a traumatic experience for a child in care, as another significant change begins. It is important that children in care settle into a new school as quickly as possible. Getting the transition right, (the farewell to the old and the welcome to the new) can lead to improved readiness for the new school and most importantly, reduced anxiety. A child that is expected, welcomed and made to feel that they belong is more likely to settle and make sufficient progress.
Early planning and communication
Involved adults should meet and plan the transition in sufficient time. To support a smooth transition and effective planning, the receiving school should ensure they have the latest PEP document as soon as possible before the transition period starts.
This early planning and communication will help to ensure:
- The sharing of relevant information about the child: areas of strength and areas requiring support.
- A shared understanding of the child’s educational story.
- A positive beginning for all adults involved in the child’s network (including Designated Teacher and a Senior Leader).
- An agreed plan, so that everyone has an accurate picture of the situation and who is responsible for what.
- The child in care is aware of what is happening and feels both involved and informed.
- School has a good understanding of the child’s circumstances, areas of strength and development.
- A coordinated identification of additional needs and support strategies.
- Improved commitment from all involved with the child’s network to enable development and learning.
- Where a child has SEND, consideration should be taken by the network of adults around the child to ensure that the education setting can effectively meet the child’s additional needs.
Extra care with in-year admissions
Generally, schools plan, manage and deliver the transition of each year group into the school, into the next year group and out of the school very well. In addition, where children are transitioning mid-year schools need to ensure that an effective transition plan is in place, as they would a normal transition.
For In- Year admissions, it is important to remember that the child in care may be making other transitions as well as moving to a new school. The child may be new to care, have a new care placement and may have moved into a completely new area. In addition the child may have also endured other traumatic events and emotional upheaval.
A positive welcome
The aim is to make the child feel ready and welcomed. Suggestions for a smooth and supportive transition include:
Transition visits: bespoke to the needs of the child. Time to meet with key staff, tour the school, meet a few students, spend an extended time in an area of interest to the child, provide copy of timetable, discuss uniform and PE kit arrangements. To support the child, wherever possible, transition visits to the new school should be supported by key adult/staff members from previous education setting.
Transition materials: examples include; school handbook, photographs of key staff in school, map of school, extra-curricular timetable, timetable, Pastoral Support Plan, transition photo book (images of staff/key adults from previous education setting).
Admission strategies: Extended time with a key adult to talk about the move, look at any transition materials, discuss the expectations of the school, timetable, uniform, lunches etc. Time to find out from the child areas of success/concerns from previous school. Meet key staff. Arrange the meet and greet with a key member of staff. Be allocated a buddy (someone in most of the same lessons and tutor group) to help guide you through the first few days. Ensure that child is placed in classes with positive role models.
Admission assessments: Although admission assessments may be essential, it is important to consider that early assessments may not be an accurate reflection of ability as these may be influenced by the social and emotional effects of the recent move.
Class teachers ready: Make sure that class teachers are ready for their new pupil, this includes knowing any relevant information and support strategies in addition to practicalities such as; where the child is going to sit, having books and other resources ready or to hand, computer logon and password organised, who will show them to their next lesson etc. It is important to note that children in care may not wish to be identified as a looked-after child.
Review: Arrange for a phone call home after the first day, first week. Plan a review meeting (including a round robin from staff after 3 weeks to see how the child has settled in), invite the child and parent/carer, this will help to identify and consider any interventions/support necessary to help promote the child’s educational experience in school.
A positive farewell
At normal transfer time (such as pupils moving from Y6 to Y7 or leaving at the end of Y11), most schools are very good at preparing and setting the tone for a positive farewell. Schools will gather relevant information for the child and key adults, including family and the next education provider, to make their transition and next steps as smooth as possible. Schools also tend to make something of each child’s achievements and emphasise the excitement of new beginnings.
Sometimes moves can be unplanned or come with minimal notice but it is still essential to help with closure. If a child has to move school at a different time to a ‘normal transfer, schools should make efforts to replicate the above.
The aim is to make the transition to a new school, as easy as possible for the child in care. Suggested strategies include the relevant agencies (mainly education and social care) working together to:
- Create an opportunity for an appropriate adult to talk through what is changing and why.
- Facilitate proper goodbyes. Think about who the child may need to say goodbye to and where possible consider opportunities to stay in touch or visit.
- Make sure that possessions travel too – ensure that school work etc. gets to the right person in the new school.
School Closures January 2021 - advice for recording attendance of looked-after and previously looked-after children
As vulnerable children are still expected to attend school full time, they should not be marked as Code X if they are not in school (except if they are shielding, self-isolating or quarantining). If the parent of a vulnerable child wishes their child to be absent, the parent should let the school know.
The Department expects schools to grant applications for leave of absence given the exceptional circumstances. This should be recorded as code C (leave of absence authorised by the school) unless another authorised absence code is more applicable.
Where schools grant a leave of absence to vulnerable children they should still speak to parents and social workers (where applicable) to explore the reasons for this and any concerns raised. The discussions should focus on the welfare of the child and ensuring the child is able to access appropriate education and support while they are at home