We are Family - Supporting LAC and previously LAC in schools together
The Leicestershire Virtual School is a local authority service whose role is to improve the education of children in care by supporting our Early Years settings, family of schools, carers and social workers to help children and young people to do their best.
By working with schools and colleges, we ensure that children in care have good quality Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings. The PEP sets out plans for a child’s education and helps carers, teachers and social workers to understand and plan what we can do to offer extra support if and when needed.
Under the Children and Young Persons Act 2008, schools are required to appoint a Designated Teacher, to support the learning of children in care and manage the process of how the school works with the Virtual School and social workers to promote the child’s education.
The Virtual School provides regular updates and thorough training to Designated Teachers to ensure they are best equipped to enable our children and young people to improve their educational outcomes and life chances.
School LAC policy
We are an essential advocate for the importance of education and aim to raise self-esteem, expectations and aspirations and remove barriers to learning. We support schools to promote understanding of the issues faced by looked-after children and previously looked-after children and we have produced a School LAC Policy template for schools to base their own LAC policy:
Attachment-aware and trauma-informed schools
Attachment-aware and trauma-informed school practice can make a huge difference to the outcomes of looked-after children and previously looked-after children.
Children must feel valued, safe and secure in order to succeed, and this will only be achieved when they experience positive relationships in school that acknowledge and take into account their individual needs.
Children communicate through behaviour, and we wholeheartedly agree that thinking of a child as behaving badly disposes you to think of punishment, whereas thinking of a child as struggling to handle something difficult encourages you to help them through their distress. We believe that the best and most supportive policies focus on the relationships between adults and children, and that strong relationships enable us to better help children and reduce their anxieties.
The Leicestershire Virtual School has worked closely with the Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland Trauma-Informed Practice (TIP) Group to help schools adopt trauma-informed behaviour and relationship policies, a template for which can be found below:
Looked-after Children (LAC) admissions protocol
It is the duty of the Virtual School to ensure that “looked-after children have access to a suitable range of high quality education placement options.” Looked-after children often require a change in school placement outside of normal transition points, but unfortunately there are delays in accessing a school place which can have a negative impact on children: de-schooling them, increasing gaps in education, making eventual integration to school more difficult and putting stress on fostering arrangements that can result in breakdown of the placement.
To address this the Leicestershire Virtual School, in consultation with the Leicestershire Admissions Service, has produced guidance that seeks to clarify timelines and the local authority’s expectations when an in-year application for a school place is submitted for a Leicestershire LAC.
Please note: this applies to children without an EHCP requiring a place in a Leicestershire mainstream school/academy.
Unaccompanied asylum seeking children
Occasionally, we have unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) who require a school or college place, so to help you deliver the best support possible to these children, we have produced a booklet with some useful information and strategies:
What we do
- Ensure children in care have a place in an Early Years setting and have a successful transition to school
- Make sure children in care have a school place and access to education at the most appropriate school for their needs
- Encourage hobbies and attending fun and educational out of school activities
- Keep changes of school to a minimum, especially during Year 6 and Year 11
- Ensure regular PEP (Personal Education Plan) meetings (three times a year) and make sure the Pupil Premium Plus is used effectively
- Make sure children in care are given the right sort of advice on careers or further education and encourage and support Post-16 learning
- Support carers and social workers to take an active role in a child’s education
- View statutory guidance for local authorities to support looked after and previously looked after children's aspirations to achieve in further and higher education