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Guidance for schools

The Designated Teachers role

The Virtual School is passionate about and committed to developing the role of the designated teacher in school. This section of our webpage aims to provide useful resources to support designated teachers to carry out their duties.

All school governing bodies are required to ensure that an appropriately qualified and experienced member of staff (the designated teacher) undertakes the responsibilities within the school to promote the educational achievement of children in care. They must also ensure that they undertake training to carry out this duty.

Visit the GOV.UK website for statutory guidance on the designated teacher for looked after and previously looked after children

The designated teacher is responsible for championing the educational needs of children in care in their school and ensuring they have good quality PEPs. They should be the main author and champion of the PEP within the school. The designated teacher should maintain high expectations of children in care and have the time to understand their needs.

The Virtual School offers professional development to designated teachers as well as the opportunity to network and exchange knowledge, understanding and good practice with other designated teachers. Please visit our training and continuing professional development page to find out more about our training to support you in your role. 

Information, policies and useful resources for Designated Teachers and schools

The following resources have been developed by the Telford and Wrekin Virtual School to support the designated teacher to monitor provision and planning for children in care. 

Statutory guidance from the DfE:

Information for headteachers and governors

Schools have a key role to play in improving the educational outcomes of children in care. There is no denying that quality teaching has the greatest impact on outcomes but children in care need more than this. They need understanding, high aspirations, staff that go the extra mile and organisations that work in partnership.

Guidance from the Department of Education:

Who are our children in care?

A child is in care by a local authority if they have been provided with accommodation for a continuous period of more than 24 hours, in the circumstances set out in sections 20 and 21 of the Children Act 1989, or is placed in the care of a local authority by virtue of an order made under part IV of the Act. Visit the Department for Education website for further definitions in The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations. But if you have any doubts about the status of a student in your school then contact the Virtual School.

The majority of children in care enter care through no fault of their own. They are likely to have experienced some form of abuse, neglect or trauma prior to entering care. Most children in care live in foster care provided by the local authority or with a member of their extended family under a legal order. A smaller proportion live in children's homes, or attend residential schools due to their complex needs. Children in care tend to have higher levels of Special Educational Needs but often this is due to their Social, Emotional and Mental Health needs and not necessarily due to their cognitive abilities. It is important to remember that an unaccompanied minor/unaccompanied asylum seeking child (UASC) is entitled to the same support as a child born in this country.

UASC - Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children and Young People have a right to education. To ensure that education is relevant to need, schools and colleges would benefit from guidance and support. For more information please download the AFC Virtual School guidance.

School admissions

Children in care have been given the highest priority within school admission arrangements. The admission requirements for children in care are set out in the School Admissions Code which applies to maintained schools and academies, including free schools. But simply, a child in care must be given a place in the school chosen irrespective of the current numbers on roll or in a class. The local authority that looks after a child can instruct a school in any local authority to admit a child in care. This includes using their powers of direction in a timely way to avoid delay.

Where a local authority considers that an academy will best meet the needs of any child, it can ask the academy to admit that child but has no power to direct it to do so. The local authority and the academy will usually come to an agreement, but if the academy refuses to admit the child, the local authority can ask the Secretary of State to intervene. Visit the GOV.UK website to complete academy admission request form for children in care.

School Admissions Appeal Code

This Code came into force on 1 October 2022 and applies to all appeals lodged on or after that date. It applies to admission appeals for all maintained schools and Academy Schools in England (not including any maintained or Academy special school, alternative provision or stand-alone 16 - 19 provision). It should be read alongside the School Admissions (Appeal Arrangements) (England) Regulations 2012, the School Admissions Code and other guidance and law that affect admissions and admission appeals in England.

Visit the GOV.UK website

School Governors

Headteachers who prioritise the education and welfare of children in care ensure that the governing body is able to fulfil its duty to appoint a sufficiently senior and experienced designated teacher to promote the educational outcomes of children in care. The designated teacher must:

  • be a qualified teacher
  • be in a position to lead school staff
  • undertake appropriate training to fulfil the role
  • work closely with the virtual school.

Governing bodies that prioritise the education and welfare of children in care identify a governor to take particular interest in the work of the school in relation to children in care, and meet regularly with the designated teacher. The chair of governors supports this 'designated governor for children in care' by ensuring they have access to training to fulfil their function and advise the governing body as a whole. Please contact the Virtual School to discuss training for governors.

Headteachers should ensure confidentiality about the personal details of children in care on the school roll while facilitating termly reports from the designated teacher to the governing body and a positive working relationship between the designated teacher and the designated governor for children in care.

Transition: 10 resources and courses 

  1. Visit the creative education website for information about Supporting Your Child When They’re Starting a New School (on-demand course).
  2. Visit the creative education website for information about Ensuring a Smooth Transition in the Year of Covid (on-demand course).
  3. Visit the creative education website for information about Free PSHE resources offered to help support transition (News article, including resource link).
  4. Visit the creative education website for information about Effective transition for year 7 pupils (SecEd podcast with input from 4 schools).
  5. Visit the creative education website for information about 12 tips for a smooth year 6 to 7 transition (SecEd knowledge bank).
  6. Visit the creative education website for information about SEND: Make Transitions Work for Every Student (on-demand course).
  7. Visit the creative education website for information about Find Your Feet: Transitions Activity for Year 7 Pupils (PDF from Young Minds).
  8. Visit the creative education website for information about BBC Bitesize videos about starting secondary school (video collection for students).
  9. Visit the creative education website for information about Year 6 Secondary Transition Activity Idea Pack (Twinkl teaching resource).
  10. Visit the creative education website for information about the 6 Tips for starting a new class.

Other useful resources

Self-evaluation and school inspection. The outcomes of children in care remains a priority for Ofsted in the West Midlands Region and the Senior HMI has asked for, and been sent, a copy of the new Telford and Wrekin PEP template. The Senior HMI will issue it to inspection teams going in to Telford and Wrekin Schools so they know what to expect when they ask to see a sample of PEPs during inspections and/or meet with the designated teacher. The Telford and Wrekin Virtual School are urging schools to sign up for ARC to complete the online SEF which in turn will generate the schools action plan. This is the first step to become an attachment and trauma formed school.

The Virtual School is regularly contacted by inspectors during school inspections and asked for an opinion on the school's work with children in care. 

Please send us your completed self-evaluation as it will help us support you before or during inspection to virtualschool@telford.gov.uk. Inspectors will look for evidence of a positive relationship between the school and the Virtual School and sharing your self-evaluation with us is a way to demonstrate this.

Aquired Brain Injury - support young people to return to education

Acquired Brain Injury: The DfE have asked us to promote a new booklet and poster from the UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum: 'ABI Return - Children and Young People with Acquired Brain Injury - guiding their return to education' which is now available for professionals involved in helping children and young people with an Acquired Brain Injury prepare for, and achieve, a successful return to education and to help progress their recovery.

Download the flyer

Resources from the Multicultural Development Team and the Educational Psychology Service

Following on from the Educational Psychology Service (EPS)'s collaborative project with the Multicultural Development Team (MDT), generously supported by Telford Interfaith Council, the two teams have curated some helpful anti-racism resources for schools and support services.

Further to the resources shared above, the MDT are currently providing free training on Race Equality, How to identify Racist incidents and reporting incidents via IRIS. They also have free resources to schools which are accessible, to their SLA schools, via the online resource library. They provide bespoke CPD, workshops, support and advice for all schools.

For more information about the Educational Psychology Service please visit their website or make contact by sending an email to SENDandInclusion@telford.gov.uk.

For more information about the Multicultural Development Team please visit their website or make contact by sending an email to multicultural.development@telford.gov.uk.

Last updated: 12/04/2024 11:20

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