Supporting children in care to achieve well at school
This guidance aims to provide information about the advice and help available through the Virtual School.
Key people and their contact information are noted at the end of this guidance.
Schools are expected to demonstrate high aspirations for students who are in Local Authority Care and have systems and processes in place to secure the best possible educational outcomes.
Every school or setting will have a Designated Teacher who will monitor educational provision and actively support individual Children in Care attending their school.
Ofsted will also assess and report on how well schools support Children in Care and the impact of Pupil Premium Plus. Devon County Council undertakes termly monitoring of the academic progress of every Child in Care who is of statutory school age.
Q1: How will I know if my child is doing well at school?
Schools communicate student progress and achievement in a variety of ways. These include written reports or grading systems (termly or annually) and at parent consultation evenings. The focus for Parents’ Evenings will vary between progress discussions around your individual child to more formal ‘information giving’ events for curriculum choices or career fairs. Do not rely solely on these events to provide you with the information you need. Use the school’s website and also contact the class teacher/form tutor and the Designated Teacher if you have any concerns or questions.
Questions to ask the school:
- How is Pupil Premium Plus used to improve my child’s academic progress and enrich their educational experience?
- How will the Designated Teacher keep in touch with me?
- How will I be informed of parent evenings and school events?
- What ways will the school communicate with me as a foster parent?
- How do I contact the Designated Teacher if I have a question or a concern?
- Who is the School Governor with responsibility for Children in Care?
- How will I know when my child is taking exams, has important tests or key assessments?
Q2: What support can I expect the school to provide for my child?
Schools will receive Pupil Premium Plus funding for every Child in Care. This funding is provided to ensure that any additional support your child needs is put in place. How Pupil Premium Plus is used will be recorded within your child’s Personal Education Plan (PEP). Devon County Council does not release Pupil Premium Plus funding to schools until the PEP has passed our Quality Assurance process.
The school should also be carefully monitoring your child’s attendance and letting you know straight away if attendance or punctuality becomes a concern. An Education Welfare Officer (EWO) will also be monitoring your child’s attendance and will be in regular contact with the school.
The Designated Teacher has to ensure that your child’s education, social and behavioural needs are addressed. It is important that wider curriculum and enrichment activities are on offer for Children in Care and that they are actively encouraged to access broader opportunities.
If your child has particular talents the school should recognise this and provide additional opportunities so that they can excel in these areas. If your child has Special Educational Needs & Disability (SEND) the school will be providing extra support or catch-up sessions to help their progress.
Your child will be placed on the SEN Register and their progress will be reported and discussed with you on a regular basis by the school’s Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCo). If your child attends a mainstream school, Special School or has complex needs, Devon Information, Advice and Support (DIAS) are able to provide impartial information and advice to support your conversation with schools, further information is available on the Devon DIAS website.
Your child may also receive additional support from a Teaching Assistant or specialist support staff. The school should inform you of any additional support sessions or staff allocated to your child and this will be recorded in their PEP.
Transport for children to and from school is arranged (within the Devon County Council Transport Policy) through the School Transport Team, further information is available on the school transport page.
Q3: How can I get the best from parent consultation evenings? There are often too few opportunities to talk about my child
In Primary, Special Schools or Early Years settings you will be offered an individual appointment to talk about your child, this will be with the class teacher or a key worker. You do not need to wait until formal open evenings – telephone the school and ask to make an appointment to see the Headteacher.
Class teachers are usually happy to have an informal chat with parents at the end of the day or you could ask for an informal catch up at any time in the term. If your child has school transport you might book a telephone appointment.
At Secondary phase Parents’ Evenings are usually more formal. Try to make as many appointments with individual teachers as possible to get a broad view of your child’s progress. If time is short, prioritise key subjects such as English and Maths and the area or subject that your child really enjoys. An appointment with their form tutor is essential as they will know your child best. Always ask to meet the Designated Teacher but it is also worth asking to meet the SENCo (if your child has SEN) on a more regular and formalised basis.
Questions to ask the school:
- How is my child’s progress checked and the impact of the PEP measured?
- Is my child achieving as well as they should be?
- If not, what are the barriers to their learning?
- What is the school doing to overcome any barriers and how can we work together?
- When is homework set and how will I know what has been set?
- What extra support is the school providing for key areas such as English and Maths?
- How will you let me know if you have any concerns?
- What grades are you predicting for my child in the National tests?
- How is the PEP and Pupil Premium Plus being used to ensure that my child achieves the best they can?
Q4: What can I do if my child has difficulty managing their behaviour and has been ‘in trouble’ at school?
The school should be working very closely with foster parents, carers and Social Workers as a matter of course, particularly if there are any concerns around behaviour or social and emotional issues. Any incidents of bullying should be reported to the Designated Teacher and Virtual School and must be acted upon by the school.
Your child should be able to access additional support from within the school (counsellors and pastoral workers for example, or support through the Thrive approach) but also from external specialists working for Devon County Council or CAMHS.
The Behaviour Support Team offer classroom-based support and the Educational Psychology Team will also provide guidance, support and training on positive processes to behaviour management, such as Thrive. They also undertake Statutory Assessments if required when children have high levels of need. If your child has behaviour/emotional difficulties, the transition to the next phase of education can be particularly challenging (such as moving from Primary school to Secondary school). The school will be aware of the need to provide additional transition opportunities for vulnerable children.
If your child has been excluded or is threatened with exclusion please talk with the Virtual School who will offer support and may suggest talking with a Devon County Council Inclusion Officer.
Questions to ask the school:
- What is your school’s Behaviour Policy and how do the sanction/reward systems work?
- What support can you offer to help my child with their emotional and social needs?
- How is Pupil Premium Plus being used to provide any additional support for their personal development?
Q5: My child is keen to go on to further or higher education: what is on offer and how do we get good advice?
From Year 9 your child will start to consider their Post 16 Pathway. Throughout Years 10 and 11 Schools and Colleges will organise meetings and events to outline new opportunities and choices through ‘taster days’ and careers evenings. These are very important meetings where Foster Carers will play a significant role in supporting their child’s choices for their future.
CSW is commissioned to provide individual support to Children in Care and provide advice and guidance for a broad range of education and training opportunities on offer, within and beyond Devon, from the age of 16. Schools and Colleges provide a range of information on the University application process. It is important that schools have high aspirations for Children in Care and are willing to provide additional support to enable Children in Care to overcome any barriers to accessing Higher Education.
The Virtual School organise visits to FE colleges and universities to raise aspiration and help with planning future choices.
Future plans will be discussed at PEP meetings and a wider discussion of what is on offer explained. The Virtual School work closely with the Step Forward in Devon to provide support for young people in making their post 16 choices .
Questions to ask the school or college:
- What are the entry requirements for particular courses?
- How long will the course run and will financial support be available? How do we apply?
- What qualifications will my child get if successful?
- Has my child has a CSW meeting to plan a post 16 pathway?
- When can we visit and find out more about this course or new School/College?
- What additional support can my child expect whilst at University/college either from Devon County Council as the Corporate Parent or from the University itself?
Provision and opportunities from the age of 14:
Type of Provision
|Available in Devon|
Maintained Secondary School
Serves a local area and is part of the Local Authority family of schools.
(not all Secondary Schools have Sixth Forms)
State funded independent school. School with Trustees
accountable to the DfE and the Regional Commissioner.
|11-18||See School Information|
Further Education College
Post 16 with a diverse range of courses.
University Technology College (UTC)
Specialist academy offering vocational courses and links with local businesses, colleges, and universities.
|14-19||South Devon UTC, Newton Abbot|
Specialist schools for children with additional needs
Schools providing for a specialist range of additional needs places allocated by the 0-25 team for children with SEND needs
|5-19||Devon’s SEND Local Offer|
Apprenticeship and Workplace
Broad offer arranged for those aged 16+ through colleges and independent training providers – a mixture of work-based learning and off job training.
Independent Specialist College
Residential Schools and Colleges for students with complex needs or disabilities.
|2-25||Information via the Local Offer website|
Raising an issue
Schools and colleges will work closely with you to ensure that your child has the best possible educational experience and are able to meet their potential. Sometimes schools and colleges do not get things right and can unintentionally create further barriers for children in care.
We would advise Social Workers and Foster Parents to raise concerns as early as possible with the school so that problems can be addressed. The Virtual School headteacher is also there to help your child get the most out of their education and can be contacted if there is a problem.
- Attainment and Progress 8 New Key Stage 4 performance measures
- CAMHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services
- CATs Cognitive Assessment Tests
- DCC Devon County Council
- DfE Department for Education
- DT Designated Teacher
- EBACC English Baccalaureate
- EWO Education Welfare Officer
- IO Inclusion Officer
- PEP Personal Education Plan
- PEPSO Personal Education Plan Support Officer
- SENCo Special Educational Needs Coordinator
- SEND Special Educational Needs & Disability
- Thrive A special programme to build self esteem
- KS Key Stage
Questions to ask the school
What other ways will the school communicate with me as a foster parent?
How do I contact the Designated Teacher if I have a question or a concern?
How will the Designated Teacher keep in touch with me?
How will I be informed of parents’ evenings or school events?
How will I know when my child is taking exams or has important tests or key assessments?
How will you inform me if you have concerns about attendance?
How will you let me know if you have any concerns?
How is the Pupil Premium Plus used to improve my child’s academic progress and enrich theireducational experience?
What additional support or extra opportunities is my child getting?
When is homework set and how will I know what has been set?
What extra support is the school providing for key areas such as English and Maths?
What is your school’s behaviour policy and how does the sanctions/rewards system work?
How is Pupil Premium Plus being used to provide any additional support for their personal development?
Who is my child’s learning mentor?
If my child has behaviour/emotional issues, are they addressed in the PEP?
My child is very talented, what additional opportunities are available at school?
What are the entry requirements for particular courses?
How long will the course run and what financial support will be available? How do we apply?
What qualifications will my child get if successful?
When can we visit and find out more about this course or new school/college?
What additional support can my child expect whilst at university, either from DCC as Corporate Parent or from the university itself?
Who is the school governor with responsibility for children in care?
Is my child achieving as well as they should be?
If not, what are the barriers to their learning?
What is the school doing to overcome any barriers and how can we work together?
What grades are you predicting for my child in the national tests?
How is the PEP and Pupil Premium Plus being used to ensure that my child achieves the best they can?
How is my child’s progress checked and the impact of the PEP measured?
What support can you offer to help my child with their emotional and social needs?
What additional opportunities are provided for vulnerable children as they prepare to move on to the next phase of education?