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6.1.18 Education Policy for Children in Foster Carers

REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS

See also Fostering Services (England) Regulations 2011 Regulation 16, and Fostering National Minimum Standards 2011, 7, 8.

RELATED CHAPTER

Education of Looked After Children


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. School Admissions
  3. Foster Carers
  4. The Education Manager for CIOC


1. Introduction

We believe that all children and young people have a fundamental right to education. Continuity is seen as an important aspect in young people's lives and support is given to maintaining school placements when children come into care especially if there are positive support and friendships networks with other pupils and members of the community.

Education is viewed holistically as being something that happens for young people in a variety of settings and ways. This is important when working with some of the Borough’s most troubled youngsters who may have had significant periods of time out of mainstream education and who find those social settings challenging. Every effort is made through a residential curriculum to ensure learning takes place in a natural and homely environment. This can include learning to cook, shop and take responsibility for personal care. It can also include learning social skills and learning to manage their own behaviour through advice and guidance from the adults around them.

Success is rewarded in the home in a variety of ways that will hopefully then encourage the young people to keep on learning.

The Local Authority’s Children’s Services Department takes the lead in planning and providing for the needs of children in our care in a variety of settings and within the framework of the Children Act 1989 (updated and amended Section 52 of the Children Act 2004.) Care is provided on the basis of partnerships with parents, partner statutory and voluntary organisations, which embrace the Council’s corporate parent responsibilities.

Children in our care have a right to expect the same outcomes we all want for our children – they should be able to take care of their own health and expect that adults will support them in this. They should expect that they will be safely cared for and be supported in taking the risks required for achieving independence. They should have access to leisure and educational facilities that enable them to pursue their interests and have their educational needs met. Our ambitions for children in our care are the same as for our own or any other child and we are committed to providing the additional support our young people will require to achieve. Our aim is also for children in our care to be able to be active and positive members of their communities and be able to ensure that they are able to provide for themselves and their own families in the future. In order to ensure that we achieve these ambitions, the local authority as ‘corporate parents’ will demonstrate the strongest commitment to helping every child they look after, wherever the child is placed, to achieve the highest educational standards he or she possibly can.

This includes supporting their aspirations to achieve in further and higher education. Maintaining close links with the Local Authority’s post 16 providers, Connexions Service, Leaving Care Personal Advisors and the CIOC Education Support Team will support the young person’s plans for their future. All CIOC in their final year at school are offered personal guidance interviews by the post 16 providers and are supported by either their carers or an Education Support Worker. All CIOC are closely monitored in college or other educational establishments up to 18 years of age. Regular multi agency meetings take place to discuss their progress and support provided when necessary.

An event celebrating the achievement of children in our care is held on an annual basis. The awards are based on the outcomes we wish our young people to achieve. Nominations are requested from residential staff, Adolescent Support Unit, short break providers, social workers, foster carers and designated teachers in schools. Educational success, no matter how small will be celebrated on a regular basis in this way and also in the homes.

Field social workers and foster carers all have a part to play in providing support, though their roles are different. Their activity is co-ordinated through the Children in our Care planning processes and the approach taken, is that of a team effort. When a child becomes Looked After – either on a short-term or long-term basis - it is the duty of the local authority to safeguard and promote his or her welfare. This means that alongside planning secure and reliable care and responding to the child’s need to be well and healthy, the local authority have a specific responsibility to support his or her educational achievement. Ensuring that a Looked After child is placed only in a home which demonstrates high commitment to supporting the education of resident children.

When a child comes into care the local authority should ensure as far as possible, in the interest of stability, that disruption to the child’s education is minimised.


2. School Admissions

In relation to school admissions the local authority will actively support CIOC wherever they are placed by:

  • Finding, as soon as possible, a suitable full-time school place (or supporting carers to do so);
  • Ensuring, where they are the admissions authority, that CIOC are given top priority in over subscribed criteria as recommended by the School Admissions Code of Practice;
  • Appealing against any adverse admissions decision, where appropriate;
  • Challenging any admission authority which they believe is not giving top priority to CIOC placed out of area.


3. Foster Carers

Foster carers have the day-to-day responsibility for children and young people placed in their care and act as their primary carers. They play an essential role in ensuring and supporting the education of children and young people living with them.

Schools and foster carers should aim to develop strong, positive and direct links as effective exchange of information about matters relating to pupils’ education and well-being is essential and schools and carers should know who to contact in case of emergency.

Children living in foster care often have a complex array of difficulties that impact upon every aspect of their lives including school life and their ability to learn. It is important that schools understand what specific aspects of life are likely to impact on time in school so that the young person can be appropriately supported.

Foster carers should know the identity of the Designated Teacher in the school of the child/ren and young people and should ensure that they have made themselves known to the school.

Carers should also provide the following:

Support:

  • Attending Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings;
  • Making arrangements to ensure that children and young people are able to complete homework in suitable surroundings and with access to appropriate equipment;
  • Ensuring that each child and young person has the relevant equipment and uniform to participate fully in school life;
  • Encouraging participation in out of school activities and interests;
  • Children who have been excluded from school are supported and enabled to resume full time education;
  • Participating in relevant training;
  • Provide support to achieve regular attendance at school, college or alternative provision;
  • Celebrate educational success on a regular basis;
  • Attend school functions, e.g. parents’ evenings, concerts etc. This may be achieved in conjunction with the birth parents and the Social Worker;
  • Assist with reading, homework, project and advise the school of any difficulties in this area;
  • Recognise that young people in care may already be disadvantaged and that extra effort may be required to enable them to learn and participate in school;
  • Support the school in planning and carrying out strategies to achieve and maintain positive emotional adjustment;
  • Have high expectations for each child as they would for their own children.

Information:

  • Meet with the schools and Designated Teacher to exchange information;
  • Ensure that information about the child/ young person’s daily educational progress is passed on to the social worker;
  • Responding to letters and requests from school immediately;
  • Keeping the child’s class/ form /Designated Teacher informed immediately of events in the child’s home life, which may impact on educational progress;
  • Advise the school of absences and the reasons for those absences.

Decision-making:

  • Attend planning meetings, review meetings and educational meetings and contribute to the development of the plan for the child/young person;
  • Act as an advocate for the child/young person on matters such as change of school placement, implications of travel, exclusions.

Records/files ( Blue Box)

  • Ensure that the following information is kept on file and updated on a regular basis:
    • Personal Education Plan(PEP);
    • School timetable;
    • School reports;
    • Record of attendance;
    • Timetable of holidays;
    • Homework timetable and expectations;
    • Special Education Needs where identified, with current and previous individual education plans (and copy of EHCP if applicable);
    • Pastoral Support Plan (where appropriate);
    • Parents evenings and extra curricular activities;
    • Links with Young Peoples Services.
  • Take relevant information to all reviews concerning the child/young person’s education.


4. The Education Manager for CIOC

Blackburn with Darwen Council employs an education manager for children in care. The role of this person is as follows:

  • Keep all foster carers members informed of government educational legislation and any relevant changes;
  • Organise relevant training and multi agency training sessions;
  • Support the foster carer with specific difficulties relating to education that cannot be resolved through the usual channels;
  • Provide liaison with education departments outside of the Borough as and when appropriate.

End