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Social Care

Page last updated: 04/06/2018

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There is a requirement for every child in care to have a statutory review​​​ of their care within 28 days of entering care and subsequently every 6 months, unless there are changes to the care plan. Statutory reviews are chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO). Schools are usually invited to participate and complete a report for the review. 

​The Virtual School Handbook is intended to be helpful to any local authority officers, in particular Directors of Children’s Services (DCS), Virtual School Heads (VSH), social workers, school admission officers, special educational needs departments, independent reviewing officers (IRO) and Lead Members. It is also hoped that schools, and specifically headteachers and​ designated teachers for looked after children will find it helpful in understanding the roll of the VSH and the needs of children in care​.

There is also three useful documents to aid your understanding. The Legal Framework​ details the different legal status' afforded children, and together with the Frequently Asked Questions​​ provide a simple overview. A brief guide to special guardianship order support (SGO).

Further information on children in care is available from the Government website and has been handily packaged together on this link​.​

Independent Review Service

The IRO Service in Essex has been working closely with members of the Children in Care Council to refresh the approach to reviews for children in care. Some changes have been made to the way the the review process in undertaken and how they may affect your participation

1. To make review meetings more engaging and purposeful for children in care, we need to ask children who they would like at their meeting and what they want to talk about. 

This might mean that fewer people are invited to the child’s meeting and the IRO may need to meet or speak with you separately, or ask for a written report. Children have asked to keep meetings short (about 40 minutes) so we all will need to make sure that we prepare well and share information in advance.

2. The Independent Review Officer (IRO) will be using a “Strengths Based Approach” within review meetings as well as in the forms that are used to gather information from families and professionals. 

Participants will be asked to tell us:

What is going well?

What is going less well?

What needs to happen?


3. There will be a new recording tool to help us capture key information and wherever possible the IRO and participants will encourage and support young people to chair their own reviews.

Please help us make reviews more engaging and purposeful. Things that will help include: 

Being focused and respectful in meetings

Remembering that the review is focused upon the young person, how well the plan reflects their needs, and how well they are being cared for and supported.

Submitting reports in advance

Recognising that many issues should be dealt with outside of the review process