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
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:
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 calling 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)
- Designated Teacher for CiC: Report to 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 (August 2022)
Training opportunities for designated teachers
DT network meetings take place online each term 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. Future dates for your diary are:
- 2 March 2023, 2.00 – 3.30pm
- 4 May 2023, 2.00 – 3.30pm
- 29 June 2023, 2.00 – 3.30pm
- 13 November 2023, 2.00 – 3.30pm
All DT network meetings now take place online, via Teams. Outlook calendar invites will be sent nearer each date to all designated teachers – if you don’t receive the invitation please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Designated Teachers’ Training Conference – Friday 6 October 2023, full details about the conference available here nearer the time.
Attachment based mentoring (ABM): Free training (2022/23)
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 that are responsive to their needs.
ABM was conceived by thinking about the needs of the child in school and applying the theory and research that 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.
ABM is a relational, child-centered and holistic approach to supporting our most vulnerable children. Drawing on theories and research from the fields of attachment, coaching and resilience, it is a comprehensive practical guide as to what to do and how to be to ensure that the individual needs of each child are met.
The approach aims to enable children to feel safe, connected, and capable – forming positive relationships and enjoying learning.
Day 1: Attachment and Relationships – Being the significant adult
Day 2: Development – Being the coach
Day 3: Practical support and skill development – Being the parent in school
Day 4: Supervision session
Dates and venues (3.5 day course):
Please see details and links to book Attachment Based Mentoring Training below, please note you need to be logged into your Devon Education Services account to be able to book, if you don’t have an account you can register here.
- 07 March 2023 | Exeter (7/8/14 March 2023 plus supervision 27 April pm) Book here
Attachment based mentoring: Overview for designated teachers, SENCos and senior leaders (one day course)
This one day course provides an overview of the ABM approach and is for senior leaders, SENDCos and designated teachers who have a responsibility for co-ordinating and supporting the approach in school.
Attachment and Relationships (being a significant adult): The theories that underpin our understanding of effective relationships and their role in development, learning and well-being as well as developing the skills and practical strategies that we need to use in our work with children.
Development (being a coach): The theory and practical application of using solution-focused coaching skills to support the child to identify skills and strengths and work towards what they would like to achieve.
Practical support (being a parent in school): Supporting inclusion, providing information, being an advocate and how we can set and maintain boundaries with nurture and empathy, using a relational rather than behavioural approach.
Dates and venues (one day course):
Please see details and links to book attachment based mentoring training below, please note you need to be logged into your Devon Education Services account to be able to book, if you don’t have an account you can register here.
- 09 March 2023 | High Bickington Book here
Attachment based mentoring: Supervision sessions (online)
These sessions are open to anyone who has completed an online ABM course or a face to face ABM course and who is using ABM in their work.
These sessions will be run by an educational psychologist and an SEMH advisory teacher and will provide an opportunity for mentors to discuss their work, ask questions, share good practice and problem solve together.
- Re-cap on your learning with fellow learners
- Ask questions
- Share good practice, ideas and resources
- Engage in joint problem solving
- Make links with other mentors in your area
- 27 March 2023
- 18 May 2023
- 4 July 2023
You can book your place online.
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 (August 2022)
- 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)
- Unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) -The Virtual School aims to respond to the individual educational needs of each young person in Care so we have both an Advocate for UASC young people (Colin Mitchell email@example.com), who is a specialist dedicated to the specific needs of this cohort and supporting them, also an Area Learning Advocate (Julie Potter) with responsibility for the educational progress of this group, enquiries can be made via firstname.lastname@example.org / tel: 01392 383000. Colin Mitchell, as the Advocate for UASC within the Virtual School, continues to offer outstanding support to all the current UASC in care but also support to the care leavers.
- Details of support available from the EP Service
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 2022)
The Virtual School uses 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 regard to children being educated outside of their chronological year group.
Devon County Council has produced 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 or carers, staff and other professionals in ensuring high-quality transition practice across Devon.
The documents below can be found on the Support for schools and settings website:
- transitions in early years
- transitions in primary and secondary education
- transition from school to further education and training
- transition from college
Pupil Premium, PEP and PEA
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
ePEP website (where you can log into the ePEP system)
Devon policy for pupil premium plus (updated February 2023)
Personal Education Allowance (PEA)
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.
Admissions and eliminating exclusion
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 or 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 (July 2022)
- 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 email@example.com.
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 – 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
- Virtual School annual report 2021/22
The Virtual School now has an SEN Caseworker for all CiC to Devon, Sarah Winstone, she can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also contact your Area Learning Advocate.