08 / EDUCATION SERVICES
"All pupils are part of a monitoring system and this proves invaluable when supporting pupils who are fostered or Looked After and accommodated. There are regular reviews with guardians, pupil support staff, depute heads, Joint Action Team and with the Reporter of the children's panel to make sure the pupils are in the best place. There is regular contact with social work. Classroom teachers are kept informed of relevant information which would help support the pupil. These pupils' needs vary depending on their individual circumstances.
"The child in care can go through quite a traumatic time. There can be all sorts of feelings of rejection, which can lead to disruptive behaviour in school. However, for a lot of these kids, school is the one stable thing in their lives. They know where they are and what they are doing. They often feel safe in school because things stay constant and they know how we will react.
"It's a matter of trying to find out these children's strengths and resiliencies. We can offer extra support and training, but they don't always buy into it. We find it motivational if you offer canoeing, orienteering and mountain biking to pupils who are experiencing a variety of problems. When they enjoy success in these activities it can have a knock-on effect elsewhere in the curriculum.
"We make use of our Spectrum unit within the school to help meet the individual needs of the pupil. These pupils can have experienced an interrupted education for many reasons and not feel confident in a full class. A more individualised programme often helps the pupil see success and progress. There are close links with Looked After Children teachers and key workers to ensure that all support is co-ordinated.
"The reward is to see these pupils move on and feel we have helped. Some go back home and rebuild their family relationships. Our pupil and family support staff work closely with myself, the young people and their families to try to support them.Others find foster families and settle well into family life. It is nice to see some of the older pupils move on into further education or training and take control of their lives."
Beverly Paterson, Principal Teacher of Pupil Support, Dumbarton Academy.
All of our Looked After children and young people should have the required support needed to develop the skills, knowledge and confidence necessary to become confident individuals, successful learners, effective contributors and responsible citizens.
"I have learning difficulties and the communication between my foster parents, school and social worker, helped me to stay on at mainstream school and leave school with seven standard grades. I am now at college doing computing. I have always had encouragement and extra support when I needed it. That makes the biggest difference: I know I am cared for." (Guy)
Education is fundamental to all other life outcomes. A positive experience of education and the development of relevant skills directly influence future employability, earning power, engagement in society, even health outcomes and the life of future generations. Education services include residential special schools and other educational provision as well as mainstream schooling.
All staff in education have an important role as corporate parents and unique opportunities to support and guide Looked After children and young people and care leavers through their everyday interactions. Teachers are cited by young people as the most influential or constant person in their lives.
To carry out this important role successfully, education staff must work effectively in partnership with other agencies, involving children and their families, to provide appropriate, timely responses. Information-sharing and communication are central to achieving better outcomes for all children and young people.
All schools, including residential schools and nurseries, should appoint a designated senior manager with specific responsibility for Looked After children and young people. The designated senior manager has a key role in guiding and supporting school staff and linking with the wider multi-agency network.
You will want to:
- Know who your Looked After children and young people are and to work closely with carers, including foster, kinship and residential carers; and/or birth family to meet the children or young people's needs.
- Make sure that Looked After children and young people and care leavers have the same opportunities as their peers who are not Looked After to benefit from high quality education through Curriculum for Excellence, including progression to further and higher education.
- Work in a child-centred way, promote attendance, make additional arrangements where necessary in order to support learning; overcome disadvantage; and encourage participation in the broadest sense.
- Promote well-being in Looked After children and young people, encouraging positive behaviour and assisting them to achieve their full potential from the broadest range of learning opportunities available, through Curriculum for Excellence, including opportunities to build skills for learning, skills for life and skills for work, and other activities such as the arts or sport.
- Make sure that each child or young person's particular needs are met, in a way which does not single them out from other children but promotes aspiration and engagement.
- Make sure your strategy for parental involvement includes corporate parents and carers.
- Strive to build positive relationships among individual children and young people, be open and approachable and encourage all children and young people to speak to you about their concerns.
- Have high expectations of Looked After children and young people and care leavers and give them encouragement and support.
- Be confident you can identify any indicators of concern and be able to co-ordinate the support needed by children and young people, working in partnership with other services and involving other support mechanisms where needed and ensuring that those children and young people who fulfil the statutory requirements have a co-ordinated support plan.
- Use the unique opportunities within an educational setting to help Looked After children and young people and care leavers develop positive relationships with adults, feel safe and encouraged to achieve.
- Ensure that council-wide policies and school policies such as anti-bullying policies take account of the particular needs of Looked After children and young people.
- Consider any decisions to exclude Looked After children or young people very carefully, including the impact which any exclusion from school may have on their engagement with education, their care placement and consequently life chances.
- Make sure that Looked After children or young people who require additional help for problems with behaviour or delays in educational progress can readily access targeted support, either within the school or via specialist resources within the local authority and partner agencies.
- Maintain stability in schooling, whenever appropriate to the interests of the child or young person, even where a placement has to change and the child has to move to a different locality.
- Measure your effectiveness in supporting and developing children and young people who are Looked After through effective tracking and monitoring attainment, achievement and engagement.
- Ensure that the progress of children and young people in residential special schools is reviewed regularly with a view to them returning to mainstream schools when appropriate.
- Collaborate with other education staff in the extended school team, like the educational psychologist, to gain a holistic understanding of the child or young person's circumstances which informs action.
- Be able to represent the views of the child or young person, or to advocate on their behalf in appropriate forums, where necessary employing the skills of people who can use alternative forms of communication such as British Sign Language ( BSL) or Makaton.
- Take opportunities to review your practice and engage with other professionals and development opportunities to learn from and share good practice, including the Looked After Children and Young People: We Can and Must Do Better Training Materials.
HOW WILL I KNOW I'VE MADE A DIFFERENCE?
- When pre-five centres, schools or other educational establishments are places where Looked After children and young people and care leavers people feel happy, safe and valued, through teaching and learning approaches which are sensitive to their needs.
- When young people who are, or have been, Looked After make the transition from school into sustained placements in further or higher education, employment or training.
- When you can give a positive answer to the question "Would this be good enough for my child?".
- When there is no difference in the rate of attendance or exclusion of Looked After children and young people as compared to their peers who are not Looked After.
- When Looked After children and young people and care leavers are just as likely as their peers to participate in out of school activities and wider school community activities such as sporting competitions.
- When Looked After children and young people and care leavers receive the additional support they require to participate in mainstream education, regardless of whether they are placed out of authority.
- When the educational outcomes for Looked After children and young people and care leavers, in terms of attainment and achievement, are the same as those for their peers who are not Looked After.