Moving children via a placing request: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

FOI reference: FOI/17/01536
Date received: 3 July 2017
Date responded: 25 July 2017

Information requested

Information about the procedure for a child to be moved from area to area via a placing request and if priory is given to looked after children (LAC). Is it necessary to have an educational plan in place for such a move or should it just be done as a matter of course. Should it be an educational officer for the LAC that would make contact with their counterpart in the chosen Authority. If a place is available must a state school give entry to a LAC.


Guidance on the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 and Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007:

Care Planning, Regulations 3-5: The child's plan should be a clear and focused document which spells out who will be doing what, and by when, in order to meet the objectives of the placement. It should address both what is necessary to ensure appropriate care for the child and also what needs to be addressed in relation to the child's family and environment to secure in the longer term a safe, sustainable and appropriate base for the child. It should outline the responsibilities of the local authority, the child, anyone with parental responsibilities for the child, and any other person the local authority consider relevant.

Education, Page 34: Social work departments and education departments have a shared responsibility to fulfil their statutory duties including those for looked after children and for children with additional support needs.

Children who are looked after should have the same opportunities as all other children for education, including further and higher education, and access to other opportunities for development. They should also receive additional help, encouragement and support to address special educational needs or compensate for previous disadvantage and gaps in educational provision.

Educational and wider developmental needs should normally be addressed in the child's plan including consideration to what arrangements need to be made for education.

When a child becomes looked after, the first step is to establish whether there are any arrangements or provisions or a co-ordinated support plan in place under the Education (Additional Support for Learning) Scotland Act 2004, as amended by the Education (Additional Support for Learning) Scotland Act 2009.

These Acts provide a single structure for children who require additional support to make the most of their education. Such support can start from very early on, just after birth if children have a disability, and cover all types of reasons why children may struggle in education, not just specific learning difficulties. Looked after children should be considered as having additional support needs just because they are looked after even if there are no other reasons. Social workers responsible for looked after children should be as familiar as parents with both requesting an assessment and also the various arrangements that can be made through provision of a range of supports, personal learning plans, individualised educational programmes and coordinated support plans. Strong links should also be formed and sustained with designated teachers for looked after children in schools, and with others in the authorities' education department responsible for additional support needs services and for looked after children. In planning for the child, local authorities should have regard to continuity of education, take a long-term view of the child's education, provide educational and developmental opportunities and support and promote potential and achievement.

Local authorities should, in most cases, act jointly with parents in relation to the education of children who are looked after on a full time basis away from home. The aim will be to ensure that the child receives the support he or she needs to achieve his or her full educational potential. When a child is subject to supervision at home, education will often be a significant element in the child's plan and the local authority should aim to work with parents to promote the child's education.

Local authorities should notify all placements to their education department or the education department of another local authority where children are placed out of their 'home' local authority area. There should be notification about all placements, except for those which are intended to last for less than twenty-eight days. Information should reach those who need it in good time, especially schools. Special support may be needed where a change of school cannot be avoided.

Local authorities should ensure that the carer's responsibilities towards the child are understood by the school. Carers may exercise the parental role in relation to the school in day-to-day matters such as attending parents' evenings or receiving school reports, but there will be many cases where parents continue to play that role or where the role is shared. It is up to the social worker to clarify such arrangements with the school following discussion with all parties.

Carers have a major contribution to make to a child's educational progress and development. They are in a good position to identify the child's capabilities and any difficulties, fears and developmental needs. With the help of the carer, and through school reports and direct contacts with the school, the child's educational progress must be kept under review along with other aspects of the child's welfare. Difficulties should be addressed and help provided, including, where appropriate, access to specialist services within the local authority's educational provision. If a child is excluded from school, the local authority and/or the parents should pursue all the avenues open to them to try to get the child re instated. If this proves impossible, and the child is permanently excluded, the local authority should ensure that the child receives appropriate education as soon as possible.

In terms of good practice, some of this is mentioned in non-statutory guidance, (2009) We Can and Must Do Better: Core tasks for Designated Managers in educational and residential establishments in Scotland:

The designated manager role is non-statutory but the guidance was developed to assist the designated person within each school or residential establishment who undertakes the important role of maintaining an overview of looked after children's progress and take responsibility for ensuring that appropriate measures are in place for supporting their education.

Core tasks: meeting the needs of looked after children and young people, page 19

  • The designated senior manager must liaise closely with other school staff, parents/carers, social work services staff and other agency personnel involved with the child or young person, to ensure co-ordinated support arrangements are in place to maximise the child or young person's learning potential.

  • The designated senior manager must ensure that the educational needs of the looked after children and young people in their establishment are clearly identified and that the appropriate support plans are in place, and that these plans are closely linked to the child or young person's care plan. Additionally, the designated senior manager will closely monitor the implementation of these plans. The monitoring of attainment, achievement, attendance and exclusion statistics in relation to the looked after children and young people in their establishment will be an essential component of this process.

  • The designated senior manager must ensure that looked after children and young people with additional support needs have appropriate ASL assessment and planning in place and that these are reflected in care planning documentation.

  • The designated senior manager must ensure that there is an appropriate input to all statutory care plan reviews and Children's Hearings. In addition, the designated senior manager may also be asked to contribute to other meetings regarding looked after children and young people, e.g. risk assessment/management meetings, informal planning meetings, etc.

  • The designated senior manager should support the efforts of parents/carers and others to provide an educationally rich home environment for all looked after children and young people within their establishment. The designated senior manager should consider parental involvement strategies within the school to ensure that the "corporate parent" has the opportunity to be involved in, for example, the Parent Council.

  • The designated senior manager should encourage parents/carers and social workers to give priority to educational needs, and to help assess and balance the demands of education versus the need for contact arrangements (i.e. contact with parents, etc.) to take place within school hours.

  • The designated senior manager must provide advice and guidance in relation to individual looked after children and young people within their establishment, and where necessary co-ordinate the pastoral needs of the children and young people concerned.

  • The designated senior manager should institute measures within their establishment which are likely to help raise the attainment and achievement of looked after children and young people, and monitor their effect as part of a general raising of attainment and achievement strategy.

  • The designated senior manager must ensure that the sending or receiving school is immediately contacted in circumstances where looked after children and young people move school. In addition, the designated senior manager must also ensure that accurate and up to date educational records are transferred between establishments within five working days. This is particularly relevant when the child or young person moves to a school outwith the local authority.

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