Children in care are given the highest priority within school admission arrangements. The admission requirements for looked after children are set out in the School Admissions Code. This Code applies to maintained schools and academies, including free schools.
It is important that admission authorities understand that Fair Access Protocols do not apply to children in care and that they are ‘excepted pupils’ in relation to infant class size regulations.
The local authority, as a corporate parent, does not tolerate drift and delay where children the authority looks after are without an education placement that is appropriate to their assessed needs. This includes using the powers of direction in a timely way rather than delay issuing a direction as a result of protracted negotiation.
The choice of school requires skilled working between relevant people. It should be based on a discussion between the child’s social worker, their carers and, if appropriate, birth parents. The Virtual School Head should normally be consulted to avoid choosing a school that is unlikely to meet the child’s needs.
In arranging a school place the child’s social worker working with the Virtual School Head and other local authority staff, where appropriate, should seek a school or other education setting that is best suited to the child’s needs.
The following principles should apply:
School changes in Key Stage 4
The Care Planning, Placement and Review Regulations became statutory on 1st April 2011 and Promoting the Education of Looked After Children (July 2014) require that young people in Key Stage 4 (years 10-11) at school or
in an education placement should not change that education placement
unless in exceptional circumstances and without the agreement of The Virtual
Clearly there will on occasions be a need for a change of care placement
for young people that are in Key Stage 4 and that decision is a care planning
one that is solely a social care decision.
The evidence is that changes to education placement are disruptive and
often prevent our young people achieving. Often GCSE and
other qualifications have set coursework which is not easily transferable as
schools use many different examination boards.
It is vital that there is a need to improve the care planning to include
education in the planning stages and not after a move has been made or agreed
to prevent our young people missing out on education or not able to continue
with their chosen qualifications.
In order to meet the requirements of the regulations when planning a
care placement move for any child looked after that is in Key Stage 4 (years 10
and 11) it is a requirement seek agreement from the Director of Local Delivery
who will contact the Virtual School Head with the proposed plan so there can be
discussion and agree the right way forward.
It is appreciated that on occasions there will be a need for emergency
placement moves, in those circumstances, social workers should contact the Virtual
School Head at the earliest opportunity in order to
make any plans necessary to meet the young person’s educational needs and meet
their statutory right to an education.
DfE guidance on the admission of summer born children can be found here.