When a child or young person is taken into care, we have a responsibility to keep things as stable as possible for them.
Maintaining continuity by keeping the child in the same school is a priority. The school may change later as the child is placed permanently.
We should make every effort to keep them in their existing school to ensure continuity of learning, friendships, and pastoral support from their school.
Where this isn’t possible, you should work in partnership with the Virtual School to identify appropriate educational provision.
As the lead professional, you should always complete school application forms in partnership with the foster carer.
Where a child becomes looked after and is placed within Bracknell Forest, the placements considered should take into account where the child currently attends school.
The Virtual School must be consulted before any change is considered or communicated to the child.
If, for any reason, a child has to change school, you should, wherever possible, make sure that a new school place has been identified before moving a child from their current school.
When you need to find a school place for a looked after child
You may need to find a new school place for a child in care if they are:
- starting school for the first time
- at the stage of moving from primary to secondary school education
- at the stage of moving from year 2 to year 3, if attending an infant school
- being moved a significant distance to a new care placement, for example to live with a family member (where it is workable to transport the child to their current school, the school move should only take place once permanency has been agreed)
- to be moved from their current school on a permanent basis for safeguarding reasons
- being placed for adoption
Who to involve
The social worker must notify the Virtual School as soon as plans to move the young person are being considered.
You should always consult the Virtual School before making plans for a school move. Where a child is placed out of their home local authority in a planned way, then staff from the Virtual School will research local schools and will work with staff from the Virtual School from the receiving local authority to find the best school for the child or young person.
Under no circumstances should the proposed carers be asked to seek a school for the child.
You should work in close partnership with the other key adults involved in the care and education of the child, to make sure that the choice of school is appropriate, and that it forms a positive part of the child’s care plan. It’s crucial that you involve the young person in the decision making process.
You should record all school change planning in the young person’s care plan and agree it through the CLA review process.
Things to consider
Before applying for a school place, the Virtual School should always be contacted. They will support the process.
The school’s Ofsted rating
You must always consider the current Ofsted judgement of the school.
Statutory guidance states that good or outstanding schools should be prioritised. Children in care shouldn’t be placed in schools with an inadequate Ofsted rating. The Virtual School will support you in reviewing the most recent Ofsted reports.
Where a child is already attending a school which is inspected and judged to be inadequate, it’s important that you use the termly personal education planning and monitoring process to assess the progress they’re making, and to make a judgement about whether there needs to be a change in school.
The school’s location
You should consider how easy it will be for the child’s carer to get them to school.
While convenience shouldn’t be the overriding factor, where two or more schools could meet the child’s needs, you can consider ease of travel arrangements.
Where the child is at an appropriate age and stage of development, you should consider how, over time, independent travel can be promoted.
Applying for a school place
Before an application is submitted, the Virtual School should be consulted about the choice of school.
For moves to a Bracknell Forest school, the social worker should then complete a school application form via the Bracknell Forest Admissions Team.
Once Bracknell Forest’s Admissions Team receives the application they will liaise with relevant school. You will then receive an offer of a school place from the Admissions Team.
The Virtual School must be involved in order that they can fast track the admissions procedure to make sure that no child is out of education.
The Virtual School will continue to quality assure all ePEPs as part of the monitoring system set up by the Virtual School Head.
When a suitable school is identified, check the relevant local authority’s arrangements for moving school during the year.
The social worker should complete an application form and submit it either to the relevant local authority or directly to a school as advised.
Children with SEND or EHCP
Where a child has a special educational need, you need to identify a school best placed to meet those needs.
If the child has an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP), The SEN Team must be involved. You should always check with the statutory assessment team, before placement, that the appropriate specialist provision is available in the location you’re looking to place the child.
It will be necessary for the child’s named casework officer to undertake a statutory consultation process to identify a school that can meet the specific needs identified in the EHCP. If a child is undergoing a statutory assessment for special educational needs, you should make every effort to keep them in their current school until the assessment has been finalised, and the appropriate type of provision has been identified. This may take up to 20 weeks.
Where a child has significant special educational needs, or an EHCP, transition planning for secondary school should begin early in Year 5.