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3.8.17 Education Policy for Foster Carers

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter reflects the importance of working with children who are Looked After to ensure they are able to maximise their abilities, skills and talents within the school setting and that they are supported to overcome any deficits in this area they may have.

See also: Education of Looked After Children/Personal Education Plans (PEPs) Procedure

Education Policy for Adoptive Carers and Children for Whom the Plan is Adoption

Children's Services Policy, Values and Principles

Lincolnshirechildren.net (LACES)

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in December 2014 to include a link to the Education of Looked After Children/PEP procedure.


Contents

  1. Purpose
  2. Policy Statement
  3. Introduction
  4. Barriers to Educational Achievement
  5. Prioritising Education in the Foster Home
  6. Looked After Children Excluded from School


1. Purpose

The purpose of the Foster Carer Education Policy is to ensure that Looked After Children (LAC) are suitably supported in their homes to make expected progress with their educational development. The Policy will provide guidance and set out the expectations of carers, who play a significant role in influencing the educational achievement of looked after children or young persons who are in the care of Lincolnshire County Council.

This policy document should be read in conjunction with Education of Looked After Children/Personal Education Plans (PEPs) Procedure which outlines our statutory duty to 'Promote the Educational Achievement of Looked After Children' and includes Lincolnshire's Personal Education Plan (PEP) procedure.


2. Policy Statement

Under section 22 (3A) of the Children Act 1989, local authorities have a duty to promote the educational achievement of Looked After children. Section 99 of the Children and Families Act 2014 imposes a requirement for an officer to be appointed to discharge this duty – sometimes referred to as a 'Virtual School Head'. 

Consistent with Lincolnshire County Council, Children's Services, the Education Policy for Foster Carers takes as its policy statement that which has been adopted by the Children and Young People’s Strategic Partnership:

“That every child in every part of the County should achieve their potential”.

2.1 Policy Aims

To ensure that looked after children achieve to their full educational potential, whilst they are in the care of Lincolnshire County Council.

The aims of the Policy are built around the four strategic outcomes of the Children and Young People’s Plan:

  • Children and Young People; are Healthy and Safe;
  • Children and Young People; Develop to their potential in their early years and are ready for school;
  • Children and Young People; Learn and Achieve;
  • Children and Young People; are Ready for Adult Life.

2.2 Policy Outcomes

  • Looked after children in the care of LCC will be in suitable educational placements, and will be supported to reach their academic potential;
  • Foster Carers will have opportunities to access relevant support and training designed to assist them in meeting the educational needs of the children in their care;
  • Each child or young person's education will be reviewed and monitored.


3. Introduction

The learning and education needs of each child or young person in foster care must be given a high priority and encouragement. Support must be provided to enable them to make expected progress and reach their full potential.

It is important that carers take an active interest in the educational development of the children in their care and to build their trust and confidence. Of key importance will be the need to ensure that each child develops the key skills of literacy and numeracy. The home and the school share this responsibility and must work together to support these objectives for the child's educational progress.


4. Barriers to Educational Achievement

Lincolnshire County Council as corporate parent has a collective responsibility to overcome any potential barriers to education which may exist for children in foster care.

Barriers include:

  • Lack of effective advocacy;
  • Lack of stability due to moves and school changes;
  • Prolonged periods of exclusion;
  • Low expectations and assumptions;
  • Failure of services to share information.

Foster carers are key to breaking down the barriers by valuing and supporting the education which children receive. They are expected to take specific interest in the child’s education and progress, to have contact with the school regularly being proactive to support and work with the school, to aid planning and review progress and take part in and contribute to the child’s Personal Education Plans.


5. Prioritising Education in the Foster Home

To enable children to progress with their education, Education should be a priority in the home, this should include:

5.1 Carers regularly helping with:

  • Reading development (Literacy skills): by reading to, or with, or listening to the child read, helping to pronounce new or unfamiliar words, explaining meaning - looking in a dictionary, learning together;
  • Number development (Numeracy skills): by supporting and practising multiplication tables, simple number bond, mental arithmetic, playing number games round a meal table;
  • Ensuring regular and punctual attendance at school. Avoiding absence from school for any reason other than illness. Medical appointments should be organised to be outside of the school day, as should any LAC reviews;
  • Family holidays should only be taken during the school holidays. Under the Schools Attendance Legislation (National Archives) any requests to take a child of compulsory school age out of school during term time can only be granted in exceptional circumstances and does not include requests for holidays with an 'educational experience';
  • Payments for a Penalty Notice (for parents who fail to ensure their children’s regular attendance at school) are subject to timescales;
  • Supporting and encouraging children to engage with extended school work and out of school activities and to engage in home learning;
  • Liaising with social worker, school, designated teacher on major decisions related to school work and any social or school issues;
  • Attending parents evenings at school in consultation with the child's social worker;
  • Reflecting  high expectations for education and communicating these to children to help them build confidence and self-esteem to reach their potential;
  • Providing necessary uniform and school equipment, the cost of which will be covered by fostering allowances;
  • Ensuring the child goes to school with the right equipment needed for that day;
  • Providing a suitable quiet space for the child to concentrate and study without distraction or disturbance;
  • Facilitate safe secure access to home computer resources for the child over the age of eight and access Foster Carer Internet Safety Training if required;
  • Liaising and co-operating with the Looked After Children Education Service (LACES) who play a lead role in supporting educational goals and objectives for looked after children in order for them to maximise potential and achieve as well as their peers.


6. Looked After Children Excluded from School

(See Lincolnshire County Council Exclusion)

An exclusion from school seldom takes place without some warning indicators first being noted. Early intervention can prevent problems escalating.

  • The carer, with the help of the social worker and LACES should be prepared to advocate on behalf of the child to ensure they are getting the support they require to maintain their place in school.

6.1 Unofficial Exclusions

Unofficial Exclusions are illegal. It is against the law to ask a child to go home without going through the process of exclusion. This includes lunchtimes. If the child is excluded, the local authority has a clear process relating to support, but if the exclusion is unofficial there is no support, no process of appeal and no obligation for work to be provided by the school.

  • Carers should notify any unofficial exclusion to the LACES Team in order for such a circumstance to be appropriately challenged.

6.2 Fixed Term Exclusions

A child may be excluded by a school for up to a maximum of 45 days in any one school year. Only a head teacher can make the decision to exclude. The school may telephone and ask the carer to collect the child. Schools have a duty to provide a written explanation giving reasons about the exclusion within one school day.

If the Fixed Term Exclusion is less than 5 days the school must provide appropriate academic work for the child to complete at home.

  • The carer has responsibility for requesting, collecting from, and returning the completed work to the school;
  • The carer has responsibility for ensuring the child is appropriately monitored and supervised during the first 5 days of an exclusion. The child should not be unaccompanied by their formal adult carer in a public place during school hours.

If the Fixed Term Exclusion is for more than five days, the child is entitled to receive full time education from day six onwards. It is the school’s responsibility to provide this and details should be in the exclusion notification letter. The child’s school has a legal duty to provide suitable full time education from day six of a fixed term exclusion, either on the school site or arranged via an alternative provider.

At the end of the period of exclusion the carer together with the social worker will be requested to attend a meeting at the school. This is the time to establish and agree a Pastoral Support Plan which is aimed at preventing further problems and monitoring behaviour that resulted in the exclusion. A representative from the LACES team will attend this meeting where appropriate.

6.3 Lunchtime Exclusions

A lunchtime exclusion is a fixed term exclusion and should not run for an indefinite period. The school must provide a written explanation of the exclusion including the length. A single lunch time exclusion is equivalent to one half a school day.

  • In such a situation the carer becomes formally responsible for the supervision and behaviour of the child over this (Lunchtime) type of exclusion.

6.4 Permanent exclusions

The Local Authority and its schools endeavour to maintain a looked after child's place on a school roll. A permanent exclusion would usually be the final step in a process of dealing with disciplinary offences after a range of strategies and attempts to redress issues by the school have become exhausted.

  • All carers should work with schools, social worker and other agencies to avoid permanent exclusions;
  • All carers should act as the advocate for looked after children in their care when any exclusion happens;
  • Carers will be contacted by Education Out of School Team (EOOST) and Teaching and Learning Centres and should reply in a timely fashion in order for the appropriate education support services to be activated.

The LACES team of the Local Authority is notified of all Permanent Exclusions of LAC and will work with carers, social workers, the school and other agencies to minimise the impact on the loss of the young person's educational opportunities resulting. 

The educational achievement of all looked after children is of paramount importance. The local authority works robustly to ensure that the educational opportunities available to such vulnerable young people are maximised and that nothing detracts from a looked after child making the expected progress compared to their peers.

Each year Children Services produce an annual report on the educational performance of Looked After children in Lincolnshire to inform the Public, Elected Members, partners and employees of the academic achievement profile, the quality of the services and outcomes for children looked after, during the year. The local authority sets challenging targets for raising the academic achievement and we reflect analytically on how far we have achieved those targets. We collaborate, purposely and positively and deploy resources to best value to help reduce the gap in educational achievement between looked after children and their peers. It is to these ends that we collaborate and work in partnership with carers, valuing them as playing a crucial and vital role in supporting these objectives.

End