We would like to reassure you that we are closely monitoring the situation and working with the government and NHS.
For guidance on coronavirus and the latest information for Devon, visit Devon County Council’s coronavirus (COVID-19) advice pages.
Information for schools, settings and governors
Many individual young people in care do well at school. However, as a group, children in care do not perform as well as their peers. The Virtual School aims to work with schools, foster carers, and other services to close this attainment gap.
Schools are at the heart of providing a good education and they have the responsibility and additional funding to provide further support to ensure that children in care achieve as well as they can. A good education provides a sound basis for transition to a fulfilling adult life, while school provides stability, continuity and normality for children in care, helping to ensure that these vulnerable young people have the best possible life chances.
- Designated teacher
- Pupil Premium, PEP and PEA
- Admissions and eliminating exclusion
- Educational outcomes
- Designated teacherPupil Premium, PEP and PEA
It is a statutory requirement under the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 to appoint a designated teacher to promote the educational achievement of looked after children who are on the school roll. The teacher should provide an annual report to the governing body who should also appoint a member to oversee the provision and work with the teacher to champion the needs of children in care.
Further information is available from GOV.UK:
- DfE – Supporting the attainment of disadvantaged pupils: Briefing for school leaders (Nov 2015)
- DfE Statutory guidance on the roles and responsibilities of the Designated Teacher (February 2018)
- DfE Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities on Promoting the Education of Looked After Children (February 2018)
- Improving the attainment of looked-after children in primary schools: guidance for schools
- Improving the attainment of looked-after children in secondary schools: guidance for schools
The Local Authority is required to maintain an up-to-date record of designated teachers for children in care. Please inform our CiC Data Coordinator, Sarah Short of any changes by emailing email@example.com or call 01392 385353
If you are a new designated teacher you may find our information for children and young people helpful as it provides a straightforward introduction to The Virtual School and some of the key processes.
- Role of the designated teacher – checklist (May 2016)
- Report to the governing body
- Role of the governing body
- Register of children in care
- GOV.UK – charging for school activities
- The Children Act 2004
- Model policy for the education of looked after children in schools and settings (February 2019)
- Protocol for Supporting CiC in Schools (including protocol for eliminating exclusions of C&YP in Care) June 2018.
- Information on guidance provided to HMI on inspecting school provision for children in care
DT Network Meetings take place each term in North, South Exeter and East Devon and are an opportunity for further training and guidance as well as networking with DTs from other schools. The meetings are supported by your Area Learning Advocates, the Educational Psychology Service and School Improvement. Dates and venues are:
- 10 March 2020, 9:30am-12:30pm at Newcourt Community Centre, Exeter
- 11 March 2010, 9:30am-12:30pm at The Watermark, Ivybridge
- 12 March 2020, 9:30am-12:30pm at Barnstaple Library
Book your place on a DT network meeting (places are limited to 30 on each date so please book early).
The Summer term DT networks are planned for 7/8/9 July 2020 – booking instructions/details will be sent to DTs nearer the time.
- Designated Teachers ‘ Training Conference – 9 October 2020 at Tiverton Hotel, full details about the conference available here.
Attachment Based Mentoring: Free training (2020)
These training courses are free of charge and open to all schools supporting a Devon based child. Schools have reported greatest impact from the 3 day training when both a senior leader and a member of pastoral staff have attended. 3.5 day extensive course and one day overview courses both available.
Attachment Based Mentoring: a Relational Approach to Learning, Development and Wellbeing (3.5 day course)
ABM aims to develop belief and understanding of how schools can support all children through both individual relationships with them and systems which are responsive to their needs. ABM was conceived by thinking about the needs of the child in school and applying the theory and research which we felt would be most helpful for them. The theoretical underpinnings come from the areas of neuroscience, attachment and connection, resiliency, solution focused therapy, restorative approaches and cognitive science. It is both a universal and targeted approach for those who are most in need and require more intensive support. We emphasise the importance of relational skills and the need to be reflective about how we are with children, as well as what we do. We aim to turn sometimes complex theory into practical approaches that can make a difference. Now in its 5th year the courses are always oversubscribed and we recommend booking early.
Dates and venues:
- 13, 14, 20 January 2020 at High Bickington Community Centre (plus a half day supervision session on 3 March 2020)
- 9, 10, 20 March at Exminster Healthy Living Centre (plus a half day supervision session on 29 April 2020Further 2020 dates to be confirmed
Attachment based mentoring: Overview for Designated Teachers, SENCos & Senior Leaders (1 day course)
Dates and venues:
Further 2020 dates to be confirmed
Book your place online
(note: you need to be logged in to make bookings)
Working with Foster Carers
This is just like working with parents but more regular contact helps the foster carer support the work Teachers are doing. Area Learning Advocates are able to provide support for Foster Carers and can be contacted via Virtual School team.
Working with educational psychologists (EPs)
EPs work in all DCC schools, supporting children in care by planning meetings, individual assessments and interventions. They particularly prioritise children in care who are at risk of exclusion, in a transition phase, during a managed move or new into care. Free training sessions offered by EPs to Designated Teachers can be found above, or by attending the DT Network meetings (info above) or the Designated Teacher Conference page also on a limited basis in schools. Traded training can also be arranged.
If you are requested additional EP support other than that already provided to your school, then please contact your Area Learning Advocate.
Children in care who go missing from schools
The first point of contact should be the foster carer, however, if they are not contactable the school should follow its usual processes and also contact the emergency Fostering Devon Duty Team (link available to DCC staff only) or call 01392 383000 and ask for ‘Fostering Devon Duty’. Further information can be found at looked-after children who go missing. The Devon & Torbay Safeguarding Children Boards website also provides detailed guidance on missing children and child sexual exploitation
Holidays in term time
The Virtual School does not support holidays in term time and carers requesting time off school to go on holiday will need the agreement of the Virtual School Headteacher and the social worker. The Virtual School attendance policy can be found here.
- New into care protocol (April 2016)
- Understanding CYP with maths difficulties guidance (January 2017)
- CAMHS pathway for children in care – information for headteachers/designated teachers (May 2017)
- LGBT Support: Young Stone wall, Proud to be
Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC)
- Supporting children where English isn’t their first language
- Unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) – Advocate for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) Colin Mitchell, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07484345897
- Details of support available from the EP Service at Babcock LDP available here
Attendance of CiC
We are concerned that recently school attendance of children in care has declined. To address this issue we ask that:
- Our VS Administrator, Kate Clarke (email@example.com) is notified when the attendance level for any child in care drops below 95%. This information will be passed to our Area Learning Advocates who will follow this up with the relevant Social Worker.
- When a child in care fails to arrive for school on any given day, that you contact their foster carer, on the same day, to ascertain the reason for non-attendance.
- CiC Attendance policy for children in care (August 2018) v3
The Virtual School use Welfare Call for all schools that do not use SIMs pupil database, also for independent schools and those outside of Devon that have a Devon Child in Care on roll. Welfare Call will call schools twice per day to gather attendance information for Devon children in care.
Educating Out of Year Group (Practice guidance for Devon schools)
Best practice guidance for parents, school staff and other professionals in Devon, with regards to children being educated
outside of their chronological year group.
Babcock LDP Educational Psychology and Early Years Services have collaborated with Devon County Council to produce guidance for schools and settings to promote successful transitions across all phases of education. Transitions are very important for children and young people and can be a challenging and anxiety-provoking time, particularly when the child or young person is vulnerable or has Special Educational Needs and/or a disability that require understanding and support over the transition. These guidance documents aim to support parents/carers, staff and other professionals in ensuring high quality transition practice across Devon.
The documents below can be found on the Babcock website here:
Admissions and eliminating exclusion
- transitions in early years
- transitions in primary and secondary education
- transition from school to further education and training
- transition from college
A personal education plan (PEP) forms an essential part of each child’s care plan and also forms part of the child’s official school record. Schools and the Local Authority have a shared responsibility for ensuring the PEP is a living and useful document. The PEP is a vital document because it provides a collective memory about a child’s education and when used effectively improves the educational experience of the child by helping everyone gain a clear understanding of the teaching and learning provision necessary to meet the child’s educational needs; this is especially important at any transition points.
Personal Education Plans
The ePEP system is now live and login details were emailed to each designated teacher. If you didn’t receive yours please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For those DTs who weren’t able to attend the training provided, a video is now available. The password has been emailed to all Devon schools – if you don’t have it please contact Aga Spier on 01392 383000 or email email@example.com.
- ePEP website (where you can log into the ePEP system)
- DCC Training Guide for ePEP (January 2018)
- Pupil premium and funding – improving outcomes for CIC letter to schools (August 2018)
- Devon policy for pupil premium plus (updated March 2021)
Personal Education Allowance (PEA)
PLEASE NOTE we are changing the PEA application process from 1 November 2020, all applications will need to be submitted via the new Smart Survey link below, the previous Application Form can no longer be used.
A PEA is for children in care who are at risk of not reaching the expected national standards of attainment. The allowances are to provide additional, personalised support. They must be linked to the targets set in the personal education plan (PEP) and show how this will contribute to improving educational achievement. The Personal Education Allowance is currently £300 per child (aged from 5 to 16 years, reception to year 11).
The designated teacher, social worker or personal education plan coordinator can apply.
A PEA will only fund activity that is over and above that which should be provided already by services or support from Devon County Council, schools and carers, or which other practitioners already provide.
Before applying for Personal Education Allowance (PEA) funding for children in care, schools must ensure that any pupil premium funding is carefully targeted to provide additional support, is meeting the educational requirements of the young person and improving their education outcomes.Educational outcomes
Children in care are given first priority for school places and schools are expected to admit them without reference to the oversubscription criteria and without delay. Social workers and parents/carers should contact their Area Learning Advocate for help with admission to schools.
ALA contact details can be found here.
- Admissions applications for CiC or those previously in care (December 2018)
- General school admissions guidance
- Relational support plan for CiC
As a group children in care are more likely to be excluded than their peers. They are more likely to be permanently excluded from both primary and secondary schools, when compared to those who are not in the care system and on average are given longer periods of fixed term exclusion (5.5 days compared to 2.2 days for those not in care).
‘The reasons why Looked After Children are an over-represented group in terms of school exclusions are many and complex. It is to do with the impact that coming into Care has on children and young people, and also the reasons why they are actually in Care which include abuse and neglect of all types. A lack of permanency is also a key issue for too many Looked After Children’
(The Adolescent and Children’s Trust).
The Virtual School is committed to eliminating exclusions of children in care and we work closely with schools to address the needs of young people in care who are finding life difficult. The protocol for eliminating exclusions of Children in Care was updated in June 2018 and is now called
Protocol for Supporting CiC in Schools (including protocol for eliminating exclusions).
When a child in care is at risk of a fixed term exclusion the school should inform their Area Learning Advocate.
REDS (Reducing Exclusions in Devon Schools) is an intervention process designed and delivered by Babcock LDP Educational Psychology Service that aims to reduce the exclusions of children in care.
The REDS process works by promoting empathy and inclusive practice in response to challenging or trauma-related behaviours. It is specifically for children in care at risk of exclusion and involves a package of Educational Psychologist support to develop a needs-led understanding of challenging behaviour that informs a comprehensive support plan.
The REDS initiative has been in place for several terms now and evaluation of this indicates that the intervention has been very successful in reducing exclusion and promoting good practice in relation to supporting children in care.
The Educational Psychology Service accepts referrals for REDS via your Area Learning Advocate (ALA) only, to refer a child please contact your ALA or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Following acceptance of a referral, the REDS process involves four stages as follows:
- The EP will chair a multi-professional meeting to establish the background and context of the pupil’s behaviour. Where possible, this will involve various staff, including senior staff, social worker, foster carers and other relevant professionals. This initial meeting gathers background information and ensures there is a shared understanding of the child’s history and factors linked to exclusion.
- The EP will meet or observe the child and elicit their views and perspective.
- A second meeting is then held (approx. one week after stage 1) to explore in depth what the function of the defined behaviours are and to identify the unmet needs. This is achieved through completion of a needs analysis, incorporating information from previous steps. This leads to a shared and agreed plan of support.
- Reviewing the implementation of the plan after about six weeks.
- Attachment-Based Mentoring: Free training (May to Nov 2019)
Further information can be found on the Designated Teacher tab
- GOV.UK – Promoting the educational outcomes of looked-after children
- Supporting children in care to achieve well at school
- VS Annual Report 2018 (Nov 2018)
- Annual report 2017 (@May 2018)
- Annual report 2016 (April 2017)
The SEN team at Babcock LDP or the 0-25 team at Devon County Council can help you with SEN needs of children in care, please call 01392 383000 and ask for the member of staff you require. (SEN 0-25 team structure chart is available here). You can also contact your Area Learning Advocate, contact details can be found on the Virtual School Team page.