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Promoting the education of looked after children

Statutory guidance for local authorities

Local authorities have a duty under the Children Act 1989 to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child looked after1 by them. This includes a particular duty to promote the child’s educational achievement, wherever they live or are educated. The authority must therefore give particular attention to the educational implications of any decision about the welfare of those children.

This duty also applies to ‘eligible’ children. It also applies to those who have been placed for adoption until the court makes the adoption order giving parental responsibility to the adoptive parents.

The Children and Families Act 2014 amended the Children Act 1989 to require local authorities in England to appoint at least one person for the purpose of discharging the local authority’s duty to promote the educational achievement of its looked after children, wherever they live or are educated. That person (the VSH) must be an officer employed by the authority or another local authority in England.

Social workers, VSHs and IROs, school admission officers and special educational needs departments should work together to ensure that - except in an emergency - appropriate education provision for a child is arranged at the same time as a care placement.

All looked after children should have a Personal Education Plan (PEP) which is part of the child’s care plan or detention placement plan. The broad areas of information that must be covered in the PEP are specified in Schedule 1 (paragraph 2) of the Care Planning, Placement and Case Review (England) Regulations 2010 as amended. The PEP must now include the contact details of the VSH for the authority that looks after the child.