Frequently Asked Questions
The Virtual School Team provide support and advice to education settings and professionals who are working with children who have previously been in care.
Who are Previously Looked-After Children?
Previously Looked-After Children are defined as:-
“one who is no longer looked after in England and Wales because s/he is the subject of an Adoption, Special Guardianship Order or Child Arrangements Order which includes arrangements relating to with whom the child is to live, or when the child is to live with any person, or has been adopted from ‘state care’ outside England and Wales.”
What can the Virtual School do to help Previously Looked After Children?
- Offer advice, support information to parents and sign-post them to other services for advice and support if necessary.
- Offer advice and information to providers of early education, designated teachers in schools and providers of alternative provision in respect of individual previously looked after children.
- Improve awareness of the vulnerability and needs of previously looked-after children through training, school and / or parent meetings. This includes promoting good practice on identifying and meeting children’s needs and guidance on effective use of pupil premium funding.
How does the Virtual School achieve this?
The Virtual School offers advice to parents and schools through phone consultations, meetings or email. The Education Support Officer for Previously Looked After Children works and consults with colleagues in relevant areas such as post looked-after children social workers and the Special Educational Needs team, using the expertise, local knowledge and skills of specialist colleagues within the council to offer the correct support to the local schools and parents.
The Virtual School website is constantly being updated with relevant information and resources for schools and parents. The aim of this website is to be an easy to access information site for parents and schools We welcome your feedback and any other information that you feel would be appropriate for this site.
What is the Adoption Support Fund ?
The Adoption Support Fund was launched in May 2015 with a government commitment to fund therapeutic support for families whose children left care through adoption or special guardianship until 2021. Funding has increased year on year. The 2019-20 budget is more than double that in the first year of operation. The government recognises that children leaving care into adoptive and special guardianship families are likely to have experienced trauma prior to coming into care and will need therapeutic support to help them thrive.
For further information Adoption Support Funding please click on link below:-
What is Pupil Premium Plus funding?
The pupil premium grant is additional funding for publicly funded schools in England. It’s a school-level grant that gives schools extra resources to help them meet challenges, including those arising from deprivation.
It’s allocated for schools to:
- improve the academic outcomes of disadvantaged pupils of all abilities
- close the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers across the country
Children’s experiences prior to entering care have a long-lasting effect on their educational attainment. When children leave care, through for example adoption, it is unlikely that their educational needs will change significantly simply because their care status has changed. Recent school performance data shows that children who have left care significantly underperform compared to children who have never been in care. We believe the funding system should treat both children in care and those who have left care equally.
For further information and FAQs on Pupil Premium please access the following link:-
Is my child eligible for Pupil Premium Plus Funding?
The pupil premium includes pupils recorded in the January school census and alternative provision census, who were looked after by an English or Welsh local authority immediately before being adopted, or who left local authority care on a special guardianship order or child arrangements order (previously known as a residence order). These are collectively referred to as Post Looked-after Children (PLAC).
How can I make sure my child’s school is receiving Pupil Premium Plus Funding?
In order for schools to access the funding, parents and guardians must declare their child’s adoptive, SGO or CAO status directly to the school before the school completes the October census. Parents and guardians must provide evidence, for example, a copy of the legal order. Parents should not need to declare their child’s status again until their child changes school.
As a school, how can I ensure the best use of Pupil Premium Plus Funding for Previously Looked After Children?
The Department of Education guidance on the effective use of Pupil Premium Plus funding is a good source of information. It recommends schools refer to The Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit, their Schools Database and Evaluation Tools to ensure that maximum impact of support and read school case studies for good practice.
I electively home educate my child. Can I apply for Pupil Premium Plus funding?
Pupil Premium Plus is only available to children attending state-funded schools. The only exception is where a local authority is providing significant support for a home-educated child’s education, although this is generally in exceptional circumstances – in such cases the local authority may decide to allocate some of the pupil premium allocation.
Parents who choose to educate their children at home are effectively taking on financial responsibility to do so and are not generally eligible for Pupil Premium.
What is a Personal Education Plan (PEP)?
Personal Education Plans (PEPs) are part of the statutory care plans for Children in Care (CIC) and are a legal requirement. Although PEPS are not a statutory requirement for previously looked-after children, parents and guardians have a right to request a PEP from their child’s educational setting.
The Personal Education Plan provides the following:-
- Contains information about the child’s progress, attainment and social and emotional development
- Identifies the child’s needs and how they will be addressed in school. Targets are set at each PEP meeting and reviewed at the next meeting
- Is an opportunity to ensure there is good communication and understanding between school and parent / guardian.
What is Personal Education Plan (PEP) Meeting?
PEP meetings are used to help previously looked after children achieve the best they can within an educational setting. The purpose of the PEP meeting is to encourage positive collaboration and communication between home and school/early year provision, and to raise awareness of the needs and issues faced by children and their parents. Many Previously Looked After Children have experienced and suffered early life trauma within their birth families environment. The PEP meeting helps schools and other education settings to be aware that previously looked-after children continue to have many of the same needs as Children in Care (CiC).
A Personal Education Plan form is completed by the school, with contributions from the child. A meeting is then arranged with the school / early years provision (e.g. nursery), parents and others that parents choose to invite.
A PEP will only be used if:-
– Parents choose to identify their children as previously looked-after
– Parents wish a PEP to be implemented.
All information is confidential and stored in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
How can I ask for PEP meeting with my child’s school/early year provision?
A PEP meeting can be initiated by either school / early year provision or parents. After the first meeting, parents and school / early year provision set a review date to see how the plans made at the PEP meeting are going.
How does school/early year provision get the PEP forms?
My child already has a Provision Plan, Individual Education Plan or a Pastoral Support Plan. Do we still need a PEP?
This is for you and the school / early years provision to decide in discussion. PEPs provide different information which is valuable in understanding the pupil’s strengths and needs. It may be useful for any PEP meeting to coincide with the EHCP / support review meetings as information may be relevant for both. By completing the PEP forms, schools and parents have additional flexibility to review outcomes outside of the timescales of the other meetings.
Help and support for students in higher education
If you have been in care, either with foster carers or in a children’s home (or in Scotland under a home supervision order) and you are applying for higher education, you may wish to tick the box in the care questions on your UCAS application. Please click on the link below for further information:-