Our role in supporting previously looked-after children

Definition of Previously Looked-After

Within the Department of Education Guidance, they recognise Previously Looked-after children as:

  • are no longer looked after by a local authority in England and Wales because they are the subject of an adoption, special guardianship or child arrangements order; or
  • were adopted from ‘state care’ outside England and Wales.  ‘State care’ is care provided by a public authority, a religious organisation, or any other organisation whose sole or main purpose is to benefit society.

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Our Role in Supporting Previously Looked-After Children

Virtual Schools are appointed by each local authority in England to oversee the education of looked-after children.  In September 2018, Virtual Schools across the UK were given additional responsibilities to support previously looked-after children. Surrey Virtual School appointed a designated Education Support Worker for Previously Looked-After children to cover this additional area of work. Our Education Support Worker is there to promote educational achievement through the provision of advice and information

Every local authority has a duty to promote the educational achievement of previously looked-after children in their area by providing information and advice to any person that has parental responsibility for the child, providers of funded early years education, designated teachers, and any other person the local authority considers appropriate for promoting the educational achievement of relevant children to help them advocate as effectively as possible.

Virtual School’s must promote the educational achievement of previously looked-after children from the point at which a child becomes eligible for free early education (normally the start of the term following a child’s second birthday) until the child completes the compulsory years of education.

The role extends to all eligible children in education in the area served by the VS, regardless of where they live. So, if a child lives in one local authority, but attends school in another, the VS of the local authority where the child attends school will be responsible.

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Our statutory Duties include:

  • Responding to parental requests for advice and information, including on school admissions in their area, and signpost parents to other relevant services;
  • Responding to requests for advice and information from providers of early education, designated teachers in maintained schools and academies, and providers of alternative provision in their area;
  • Developing and maintaining a good working relationship with designated teachers for previously looked-after children in their area;
  • Making general advice and information available to early years settings and schools to improve awareness of the needs of previously looked-after children;
  • Promoting good practice on identifying and meeting support needs of previously looked-after children and give guidance to schools and early years settings on effective use of the PP+.
  • Working with designated teachers and designated senior leads for mental health to ensure that schools understand the impact that issues such as trauma and attachment difficulties can have on previously looked-after children, and are ‘attachment aware’ through training.

Any intervention that a Virtual School carries out on behalf of a previously looked-after child must be with the agreement of those who have parental responsibility for the child.

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Government Guidance regarding Previously Looked-After Children