Barnsley Virtual School

As a designated teacher your role is to plan and monitor the progress of children in care. There are tools and guides to help you do this. 

Here you can learn more about Personal Education Plans (PEPs) and how they can help any child in care. We also have information to help you to plan for early years and children in care over 16 years of age.

Personal Education Plans (PEPs)

What Personal Education Plan (PEPs) are and how they help a child in care.

What is a PEP?

A termly Personal Education Plan (PEP) is a document that captures the attainment, progress and education needs of a child in care.

It shows how extra funding, from the personal premium grant, will be spent. It aims to support positive outcomes for children in care and remove any barriers to their learning.  

What each child's plan includes

  • education needs, both short and longer term. 

  • social and emotional needs that need to be worked on, including any related to attachment.

  • SMART short-term targets, those things the child is expected to be able to achieve by the end of the term.

  • SMART longer-term plans for education targets and goals.

  • actions and timescales for specific people. These support the achievement of agreed targets. It also shows use of any extra resources. This may be things like the pupil premium, which aims to support the attainment of looked after children.

  • Highlights access to effective strategies to intervene and how this will make/has made a difference to achievement levels.

Early years support and guidance

The gap between children in care and children not in care begins before children start school. 

University of Oxford and Childcare Trust research

The research, recently published in 'Starting out right: early education and looked after children December 2016' concluded that:

  • early adversity leads to poorer outcomes for children in care. This is in contrast with children not in care. This can include a notable attainment gap at school.
  • the gap between children in care and children not in care begins before school. There is a strong case for stepping in early. Especially in relation to attachment, social and emotional skills, managing behaviour and reactions, language development and health and physical needs
  • there is a strong case for stepping in early, through attendance at early years settings, from age two and upwards. Good quality early years provision can narrow the gap for disadvantaged children
  • children in care – due to their unique risk profile – may be more sensitive to changes in early years provision. Quality and stability may be more important for children in care than for other children.
  • there is also tentative evidence that pre-school attendance may support carers. It may also reduce the likelihood of placement breakdown. It also shows that involvement of carers in children’s education and care experience is important

(Matthews, Harding Clancy and Dixon, July 2016)

Early years pupil premium

Looked after children, aged three to four years old, in Foundation Stage 1, can access the early years pupil premium.

This means the school or setting will receive an extra 53p an hour to meet the child's needs. This amounts to £302.10 in total if the child attends the full 570 free hours of education they're entitled to.

The Virtual School Head has a legal duty to oversee how the early year pupil premium funding is spent. This is in line with the looked after children pupil premium grant. In Barnsley, this is done in partnership with the early years admission team.

Monitoring outcomes for pre-school children

  • On entry to care, pre-school termly Personal Education Plans (PEPs) for three and four year olds are requested. This is in line with the current PEP processes for school aged children (see PEP policy).
  • Updates to pre-school TPEPs are requested three times a year. The collection date is set based on agreed dates for early years settings to report cohort numbers to us so we can allocate funding.
  • Where a setting hasn't had a child in care before, the Virtual School offers bespoke training to the setting. This is to support the setting through the process.
  • All digital messages go through the Egress secure system.

Two year old funding

All children in care are also able to access two year old funding, which provides 30 hours of preschool education.

Health Visitors inform foster carers and social workers of this funding. It is often brought up as a part of the looked after children (LAC) health assessment process.

Support for early years practitioners

Designated teachers and safeguarding leads from voluntary and private settings are encouraged to attend the Designated Teacher Network. This can form part of their continuing professional development.

The Virtual School Head works in partnership with the early years advisers. This is to make sure settings are aware of their duties. The Virtual School can provide bespoke training at the request of a setting.

Children in care over 16 years of age

The Virtual School is tasked with monitoring education provision for children in care up to the age of 19 years.

Years 12 and 13

We monitor provision for children in Years 12 and 13 through the use of post-16 Termly Personal Education Plans(TPEPs). These plans sit alongside the pathway plans for each young person.  

Key Stage 4

Career aims and options post-16 are noted and planned for Key Stage 4. This is done as part of a young person’s Termly Personal Education Planning. This process is supported by the targeted independent advice and guidance (TIAG) team.


At the end of October, the post-16 data team tell us where those in Year 12 and 13 have moved on to. This data is provided at this time as it falls at the end of any course taster sessions. It is also after the date of formal post-16 registration. This ensures the data is of actual courses studied.

In the first two weeks of the second half of the autumn term, the post-16 TPEP for each child in care is requested. This will come from the providers. This is in line with our step by step guide to education planning and monitoring for children in care over 16 years of age. The Virtual School Head quality assures the education plans.

Each young person’s progression towards achieving the qualification/outcomes noted on the plan are monitored. This is through the request of updates to the post-16 TPEP mid-year (after February half term).

A young person may be referred to the Education Training and Employment (ETE) panel. This will happen if the October list shows they're not in education, training or employment.

The panel will try to find out the reasons why a young person isn't engaged in ETE. They will then develop an action plan. The idea is to remove the any barriers and match the young person to the best provision for them. 

Similarly, where the post-16 TPEP notes a problem, a referral to the ETE will be undertaken. This may also occur where the young person’s social worker indicates they are struggling to engage with their course/apprenticeship.

For more information email

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