Evidence shows that, nationally, children in care don't achieve as highly as their peers.
Gaps in learning, early traumatic events, and disruptions in education due to school moves, can all impact negatively on a child’s progress. Thankfully, there are many things a school can do to improve outcomes for children in care.
Research by Ofsted and other organisations, over the last few years, has resulted in many changes to provision for children in care. This includes the introduction of the looked after children (LAC) pupil premium and the development of the designated teacher role.
Improving outcomes for children in care
Schools that are improving outcomes for children in care have the following in common:
- high expectations of what children in care can achieve, linked to excellent whole school approaches to teaching and learning.
- rigorous target setting and monitoring protocols that focus on academic progress, behaviour for learning, and attendance.
- strong information gathering procedures that provide a comprehensive picture of the child’s needs, including identification of prior learning from previous settings.
- effective timely assessment systems that identify gaps in learning and support personalised planning.
- evidence of pupil voice throughout the education planning cycle, with the child having a strong say in the decision making process.
- strong emphasis on supporting the personal development and wellbeing of children in care within a comprehensive universal pastoral system.
- effective multi-agency working, with clearly established communication systems.
- minimal use of exclusion, through effective use of early intervention and behaviour support programmes.
- strong leadership from the designated teacher and governor.
- positive engagement with parents and carers.
- wider opportunities for children in care outside the school day.
Your role as a designated teacher
Your role is to provide strong leadership to promote the educational outcomes of children in care. We offer a wide range of support and guidance to help you carry out your role.
About the designated teacher role
As designated teacher, your role is to provide strong leadership. You should promote the educational outcomes of children in care and previously looked after children.
What you should do
- Promote a culture of high expectation and aspiration.
- Champion the needs of children in care in all aspects of school life.
- Model strong, inclusive practice.
- Be a source of advice and support for staff. They should help them meet the needs of children in care
- Take lead responsibly in school for the development and oversight of each child’s termly Personal Education Plan (PEP). Make sure quality assurance standards, including deadlines for submission are met.
- Make sure each child has a voice in their learning plans. They should be represented in wider focus groups across the school.
- Be the school's central point of contact for other key professionals and external agencies involved.
- Make sure there are agreed protocols in place for working with other key professionals.
- Build strong, supportive relationships with carers and birth parents where they can. They should support the child's engagement.
You're required to report to the governing body of the school every year. You'll tell them the outcomes for children in care and previously looked after children.
Your annual report to school governors
As designated teacher, you have a statutory duty to provide an annual report to governors. It will explain the outcomes for children in care and previously looked after children.
What the report should do
- Set out and explain the progress and attainment of all children in care in the school community. This will include children placed by other local councils, as well as children in the care of us.
- Include specific reference to those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). It should explain how those needs are being met through school SEND provision and education, health and care plans.
- Show the in-school gap in attainment between children in care and their peers.
- Benchmark the progress of children in care against national levels for all children and outcomes for children in care.
- Set out and compare attendance and exclusion levels of children in care with other groups and all children against both national and in-school comparisons.
- Make note of whether any children in care are identified as gifted and talented. It should show how those needs are being met.
- Show how the teaching and learning needs of children in care are reflected in school development plans. Also show how they are being met in relation to interventions and use of resources.
- Highlight the impact of any of the school’s policies on children in care, for example educational visits and extended school activities.
- Set out how improvements are measured and reported.
- Describe how the school works with the Barnsley Virtual School and it's equivalent in other authorities.
- Outline the training undertaken by the designated teacher during the year, including how this professional learning has been rolled out and it's impact.
You should also provide the governing body with a report. This should include the amount of pupil premium plus funding received and clear evidence of it's use. You should also including the impact on speeding up the progress of children in care.
This may be included as part of the annual report. The governing body may wish to consider this in line with their calendar of financial oversight.
It's important that governors are given the quality of information required to fulfil their role as critical friend. They should offer both meaningful challenge and support to the school in pursuing stronger outcomes for children in care.
At the same time, it's also important to ensure that the report respects the confidential nature of a child’s 'looked after' status. It should be written in such a way that the identity of the child in care is protected.
If you have any questions or need some help to complete the annual report, please contact the Virtual School.
Support for designated teachers
Designated Teacher Network
Our Designated Teacher Network meets termly to share good practice.
It's a cross phase network led by the Virtual School. It acts as a united group of school professionals. They champion the outcomes for children in care.
The group works together and strives towards constant improvement.
From time to time, best practice groups are formed from the network. Their aim is to drive new initiatives. In this way, all schools have a strong voice in Barnsley Virtual School developments.
To book a place
If you'd like to book a place, log into the POD.
Attending the designated teacher networks will make sure you meet the legislative duty placed on schools. They're required to secure regular and appropriate training.
It's recommended that all schools send someone to the events. This applies even if they don’t currently have any children in care on roll. This makes sure that all schools are kept up-to-date with current legislation and our protocols. In this way, every school is prepared should a member of their school community be admitted to care. This will also prepare them if they're requested to admit a child into care.
The network welcomes designated teachers from schools in neighbouring authorities that have children on role who are in our care.
The Virtual School will also provide bespoke training for schools on request.
Designated teacher conference
Every other year, we hold a multi-agency conference event. It focuses on the educational needs of children in care.
High quality national speakers are invited.
To book a place, log into the POD.
Online and face-to-face training programmes
You can take a look at the courses available from AC Education. They help all those working with vulnerable children in the UK.
Support for individual schools
The Virtual School Head can arrange to visit a new school when a child in care has been placed on their roll. This will most often happen where the child is placed at a school out of authority, or at a school that's not had children in care on roll before. They'll use this time to make the designated teacher aware of our procedures.
This will include training on the Termly Personal Education Plan (TPEP) system. They will also be informed of our quality assurance processes. This visit gives the school the chance to discuss the needs of the child. This can help them decide how to use the pupil premium funding.
Designated teachers policies and guidance
In this area, we'll include relevant policies, strategies and guidance to support your role. We will also include web links we feel may be useful.
Be sure to check in often to keep up-to-date..