Previously Looked After Children
Coronavirus (COVID-19) adoption support fund scheme to help vulnerable families
The Secretary of State for Education has announced that up to £8 million will be available for therapeutic support for families whose adopted children may have already suffered trauma and may be made more anxious owing to the uncertainty of the effects of the virus. Adoptive families will be offered emergency support including online counselling and couples therapy as the government expands the scope of the Adoption Support Fund to meet needs arising from the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19).
Previously Looked After and Looked After Children policy
The Previously Looked After and Looked After Children policy by Worcestershire Virtual School outlines schools Key Responsibilities and duties to promote the Educational Achievement of Looked after Children. This Policy applies to all looked after Children and Previously Looked after Children and it must be read in conjunction with government guidance documents.
Two new documents published by the Department for Education are extremely relevant to previously looked-after children. Both of these have the potential to influence how schools work with previously looked-after children and their families.
Website: The Designated Teacher for looked-after and previously looked after children statutory guidance (February 2018) (GOV.UK website, opens in a new window)
Key points to consider:
- the guidance is statutory therefore schools must comply
- the guidance recognises that previously looked after children are likely to have significant barriers to their learning
- it requires that all schools identify a designated member of staff who will take responsibility for promoting the achievement of previously looked-after children; this person should be experienced, in a senior position with the ability to influence whole school decisions; they should also receive regular training ensuring other staff access training and are kept updated
- in order to meet needs of previously looked after Children Social, emotional and academic needs are suggested as a priority
- the importance of involving parents in decisions about their child’s education and ensuring good home-school links are built this includes involvement about how pupil premium plus is spent.
- the importance of relationships between staff and pupils and the importance of enabling children to have voice is identified
- there is recognition that previously looked-after children are more likely to have special educational needs and mental health needs
- direction is given for schools to put in the right support so as to avoid exclusion of a previously looked-after child becoming necessary
- introduces the new requirement for Virtual School Heads (VSH) to make information and advice available to parents and schools in relation to previously looked after children
- the Guidance is clear about schools needing to ensure sufficient flexibility in their behaviour policy to meet the needs of previously looked after children
This is the main safeguarding document that schools need to be familiar with, in terms of previously looked-after children the guidance states:
A previously looked after child potentially remains vulnerable and all staff should have the skills, knowledge and understanding to keep previously looked after children safe. When dealing with looked after children and previously looked after children, it is important that all agencies work together and prompt action is taken when necessary to safeguard these children, who are a particularly vulnerable group.” (Point 95).
Education Advice Line
Up to £2,345 of funding can be claimed by schools to support Previously Looked After Children. You can find out more about qualifying criteria, what the money is for and how it should be spent at PAC-uk.org
An Inclusion plan drawn up in partnership with the young person, parents, professionals and school to ensure the effective provision for a Previously Looked-after child in school.
More information on the Worcestershire Virtual School Inclusion Plan (Word document)
Website: Adoption Central England (ACE (opens in a new window) - ACE provides adoption services and adoption support to children and families.
Website: Adoption UK (opens in a new window) - A charity providing support, community and advocacy for those parenting or supporting children who cannot live with their birth parents
Website: PAC UK (opens in a new window) - PAC provides information and advice to anyone who has been affected by adoption or other forms of permanent care, as well as the professionals who support them, with expert, independent advice and counselling.