School admissions for looked after children
Time out of school will disadvantage a child in care, place increased pressure on the foster placement and have a negative impact on attainment.
The School Admissions Code is clear that children in care take priority for school admissions.
The following duties are placed on local authorities:
- Securing an educational place is one of the main considerations when agreeing a care placement.
- The government expects local authorities to set a time limit of 20 school days within which they must secure an education placement for any child in care - it will be a full-time place in a local mainstream school unless the circumstances of the child make full-time or local or mainstream provision unsuitable.
- Local authorities and admissions authorities have to justify any delay in providing education.
- Admissions authorities should not fail to admit a young person because they are in care, nor should they allow any unnecessary delay in the admissions process.
- Even if a school is over-subscribed, the highest priority must be given to children in care who must be taken on roll.
It is the responsibility of the person with parental responsibility to submit a school application, usually in the case of a child in care, the social worker.
The local authority will often provide the admissions service for schools in its area, but if the school is an academy, it may be necessary to apply direct to the school. Please refer to the school's own website for details.
Supporting school placement stability
When a child or young person is taken into care, every effort should be made to enable them to remain in their current school to provide them with continuity of learning, friendships and pastoral support from their school.
It is important that the social worker is always closely involved in the application process for any school place, to ensure that the school place being applied for is appropriate and that all of the relevant information about the young person is made available to the new school.
Whenever a school place is being applied for the social worker must always consider the current Ofsted judgement of the school. Statutory guidance states that we should only be placing Looked After Children in schools which have been judged to be good or better.
Consultation with Derby Virtual School about school moves
If it is thought that a school move is required, the young person’s social worker should always consult with Derby Virtual School before progressing plans. All school change planning should be recorded within each young person’s PEP.
Please note, if your foster child has an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP), the Vulnerable Learners Service (VLS) Team will be responsible for consulting with schools to identify which is best to meet the child's needs, though parental preference will be taken into consideration. They are also responsible for commissioning places where a child's EHCP states that a special school is required.