Looked After Children
Staff Lead: Mr A Joyce Governor Committee: Curriculum & School Improvement Committee (CSI)
The school policy for Looked after children was recommended by the virtual schools team at Dorset County Council.
Sturminster Marshall First School recognises that all pupils are entitled to a balanced, broad-based curriculum and aims to promote the educational achievement and welfare of pupils in public care. The school and the governing board endorses Dorset County Council policy and welcomes LAC who may be looked after by our local authority or those who may be in the care of another authority.
This policy includes requirements set out in ‘Statutory guidance on the duty on local authorities to promote the educational achievement of looked after children under section 52 of the Children Act 2004’ and associated guidance on the education of Looked after Children.
Our approach to encouraging and supporting the education of Looked after
Children is based on the following principles:
- prioritising education set within an inclusive context which makes reasonable adjustments to ensure a personalised curriculum
- listening to the Looked after Child
- working closely with home, voluntary and statutory agencies
- promoting attendance, through a programme of early intervention, priority action, reducing exclusions and promoting stability within a positive learning environment
- identifying need, including social and emotional as well as learning needs or gifted and talented skills and abilities
- targeting support, including accessing resources from other agencies as well as provision from school resources
- having high expectations
Rationale - Every Child Matters
Many children and young people who are in care have suffered abuse or neglect. Despite having as broad a range of abilities as their peers, Looked after Children are particularly vulnerable to underachievement. Barriers to their progress include a high level of disruption and change in school placements, lack of motivation or involvement in extra-curricular activities. Sturminster Marshall First School believes that the educational experience of all children should be positive and powerful and aims to provide a learning environment in which every Looked after Child can be successful. We believe that this school has a major part to play in ensuring that LAC are able to be healthy, stay safe, enjoy, achieve, make a positive contribution to society and achieve economic wellbeing, in line with Every Child Matters.
We recognise that due to care arrangements LAC may enter school mid-term and that it is important that they are given a positive welcome and where appropriate additional support and pre-entry visits to help them settle. The school recognises that Looked after Children are an 'excepted group' and will prioritise Looked after Children in the school's oversubscription criteria following the DCSF Admissions Code (Admissions of Looked after Children (England) Regulations (2006)
Support and Resources
The Governing board will ensure that the school allocates resources, including professional time and expertise, to support appropriate provision for Looked after Children, meeting the objectives set out in this policy.
Role and Responsibilities of the Designated Staff
The duties of the Designated Teacher will include:
- ensuring that Looked after Children are welcomed into the school, necessary meetings are held and arrangements are put in place to ensure their needs identified and met. This may include providing basic equipment and resources if necessary and providing appropriate support in meeting uniform requirements if needed
- maintaining an up-to-date record of the Looked after Children in school, including those in the care of other authorities and ensuring all necessary information is passed to other staff as required
- monitoring and tracking progress of Looked after Children in school and intervening if there is evidence of individual underachievement
- holding a supervisory brief for all children being looked after and acting as advocate for the LAC in school
- liaising with teaching and non-teaching staff in school, including the person responsible for Child Protection as well as pastoral and subject staff to ensure they are aware of the difficulties and educational disadvantage LACs may face
- establishing and maintaining regular contact with home, statutory and voluntary agencies
- ensuring PEP review meetings are held regularly and information passed to all those concerned, including the local authority
- attending training as required to keep fully informed of latest developments and policies regarding Looked after Children
Record Keeping and Information Sharing
The Designated Teacher will keep an up-to-date record of Looked after Children in school and will ensure that relevant information is made known to appropriate staff. A Personal Education Plan will be initiated within 20 school days of the Looked after Child or Young Person starting at the school or being taken into care and will be reviewed regularly and as necessary and appropriate to meet the needs of the LAC.
The PEP will provide a regular opportunity to review progress, note any concerns and ensure all relevant parties are informed accordingly. Copies of reports and appropriate documentation will be sent to authorised carers and agencies involved with the child as well as any receiving school at point of transition. It is vital that the Looked after Child is aware of information being recorded, in what circumstances and who will have access to it. How this is shared with them will depend on their age and level of understanding.
Sturminster Marshall First School recognises that Looked after Children are particularly vulnerable to exclusions. Where a LAC is at risk of exclusion the school will try every practicable means to maintain the child in school. A multi-professional meeting will be arranged, bringing together all those involved with the child to discuss strategies to minimise the risk of exclusion. The child’s Personal Education Plan will reflect strategies to support the child and where relevant those employed in the Pastoral Support Plan. All relevant measures and resources will be considered to provide support and provide alternative educational packages to prevent an exclusion from happening. Please refer to the school's Behaviour Policy for more information.
Staff Development and Training
Arrangements will be made to ensure that the Designated Teacher is kept up to date with developments relating to the education and attainment of Looked after Children. Other staff will receive relevant training and support to enable them to work sympathetically and productively with Looked after Children, including those who are underachieving or at risk of underachieving or who have additional needs. These may include EAL, being Gifted and Talented or having learning or physical needs. Teachers with responsibility for Special Educational Needs provision and for children who are Gifted and Talented will be informed of those Looked after Children who have particular gifts, talents or learning needs and will work with them appropriately.
The school recognises the value of a close working relationship between home and school and will work towards developing a strong partnership with parents/carers and care workers to enable Looked after Children to achieve their potential. Consultation evenings as well as PEP and Care Plan review meetings provide opportunities to continue to develop this partnership working.
Links with other Agencies
The school recognises the value of working together with other agencies and organisations and will work closely with colleagues from services involved with the Looked after Child including Social Care teams; Community Educational Psychologist; Health services, CAMHS; Youth Offending Teams.
Racial Equality & Equal Opportunities Statement
All children have equal access and inclusive rights to the curriculum regardless of their gender, race, disability or ability. We plan work that is differentiated for the performance of all groups and individuals. We are committed to creating a positive climate that will enable everyone to work free from racial intimidation and harassment and to achieve their full potential. All staff have equal access and inclusive rights to their work regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, race, disability or ability. Our school is committed to creating a positive climate that will enable everyone to work free from racial intimidation and harassment and to achieve their full potential.