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South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures
South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures

5.4.1 Selecting a School for Children in Care


This chapter was reviewed and updated in May 2016. The chapter has been substantially amended and should be read in its entirety.


  1. Introduction
  2. Our Principles
  3. The Plymouth Education Policy with Regards to Educational Placements

    Appendix 1: OFSTED Framework for the Inspections of Services for Children in Need of Help and Protection, Children Looked After and Care Leavers

    Appendix 2: The Key Judgements Made During School Inspections

1. Introduction

The Corporate Parenting Group discussed the education policy relating to the selection of a school for Children and Young people in Care at their meeting of 26th February 2014.

2. Our Principles

  • Since a good education makes a profound difference to the life chances of Children and Young People in care, our ambition is that they should attend good or outstanding schools;
  • Equally, the needs of the Children and Young People in care are paramount;
  • There is therefore a need to balance the need for a child or a Young Person to attend a good school and the need to minimise disruption in the life of Children and Young People who have already experienced many changes;
  • Every option should be open to Children and Young People in care. Through the Personal Education Plan process, they should be supported to access the school that best meet their needs, including private schools, boarding schools, grammar schools, faith schools, the University Technical College, free schools or studio schools.

3. The Plymouth Education Policy with Regards to Educational Placements

Scenario 1

When a child is placed in care on a temporary basis, even if the school the child/young person is attending has been judged by Ofsted to be requiring improvement or inadequate, we will not move the child/young person to another school for the following reasons:

  • We do not know whether the child/young person might go back to his/her parents;
  • The staff in the home school are best placed to support the child/young person through the trauma of being placed in care.

However, because the temporary arrangements could last up to 6 months, the Virtual school will monitor closely the progress of the Children and Young People in care and will be fully involved in ensuring that education planning feeds into care planning.

Scenario 2

When the child/young person is permanently matched in a foster placement, the choice of school is based on the following principles:

  • We would prioritise finding a permanent match in the locality of the school the child is attending, if the child is safe, happy and progressing well as this would offer stability;
  • The specific needs of the child/young person, including any Special Educational Needs will be paramount;
  • We will be mindful of on-going safeguarding considerations in relation to previous history;
  • We will prioritise the need for developing stability, attachment, integration into a permanent family/community;
  • We will ensure that travel time between home and school is kept to a minimum;
  • Key Stage 4 studies will not to be disrupted, as per the Statutory Guidance, unless there are exceptional circumstances;
  • We will take into consideration the overall judgement of the most recent Ofsted inspection report, including the judgement on safeguarding issues;
  • We will also take into consideration the track record of the school in supporting the needs of Children and Young People in care as we know from experience that the OFSTED judgement is not the only criteria that we should use to define a good school.

Scenario 3

Where there is a planned change of care placement within the city or out-of-city, the Social Worker supported by the Virtual School, and Special Services if the child has a statement of Special Education Needs or in the future an EHC plan, will check the availability and OFSTED rating of education provision before finalising the foster care or residential placement.

Scenario 4

If there is an emergency change of care placement to an out-of-city provision, the Social Worker will either:

  • Contact the Virtual School to check if the team has any information about the quality of the proposed education provision;
  • Contact the admission team of the relevant local authority as a priority in order to ensure that full time good education provision is offered as soon as possible.

Scenario 5

When a Young Person is permanently matched via adoption, prior to adoption, some looked after children will live with their prospective new parents prior to the final Adoption Order. When that happens, if they are of statutory school age, they may stay at their existing school or move to a new school. The decision as to whether to keep them in their existing school or to send them to a new school will depend on where the adopted parents live.

  • Many of our adopted parents do not live in Plymouth. In that case, the Adoption Service will support adoptive parents to choose the right education provision in their area;
  • However, if the adoptive parents live in Plymouth or the travel-to-learn area, we will recommend that the child continues to attend his current school unless:
    • The child or young person does not feel safe, happy or is not progressing well;
    • The professionals and adopters believe that remaining in the current school will undermine the stability of the placement long term.

Scenario 6

If the OFSTED judgment on a school changes from outstanding or good to requiring improvement or inadequate:

  • The Virtual School Headteacher will notify the Head of Service for Children and Young People in Care;
  • The Virtual School team will carry out a risk assessment. The outcomes of the risk assessment shared with the Head of Service for Children and Young People in Care, the relevant social workers and their team managers;
  • Where there are any concerns, a Personal Education Plan (PEP) meeting will be initiated by the Virtual School Team as a matter of urgency. This meeting will require the attendance of the Social Worker;
  • In the unlikely event that a child or Young Person needs to move school, the Virtual School Team will support the Social Worker in finding an alternative placement;
  • If the child or Young Person stays in the school, the Virtual school will allocate support if required and will monitor closely the progress his/her progress.

In the case of education provision commissioned through the Peninsula wide contract, the Virtual School will contact the Commissioning Team with a view to suspending the provision until the quality improves. The Commissioning Team, in partnership with the Virtual school team will support the Social Worker in finding an alternative placement.

Scenario 7

If the school that a child or Young person attends fails to meet his/her need despite the interventions from the Virtual School Team and even if the school is judged by OFSTED to be at least good, the Virtual School will support the Social Worker and/or the relevant adult with PR to apply to a different school. Whilst the aim will be to choose a good or outstanding school, the criteria listed in scenario 2 will apply.


  • We are aware that whilst having a “good school” policy will work in an urban setting where there is a huge choice in provision, the policy will be very challenging to apply in rural areas where there is only one school;
  • Whenever a child changes school, the social worker should initiate a new PEP process within 10 working days to support the child to make a successful transition.

Appendix 1: OFSTED Framework for the Inspections of Services for Children in Need of Help and Protection, Children Looked After and Care Leavers

The inspectors will make a judgement on the overall effectiveness of services and arrangements for children looked after, care leavers and children who need help and protection. The overall effectiveness judgement is a cumulative judgement derived from:

  • The experiences and progress of children who need help and protection;
  • The experiences and progress of children looked after and achieving permanence including graded judgements on:
    • Adoption performance;
    • The experiences and progress of care leavers.
  • Leadership, management and governance.

Inspectors will make their judgements on a four-point scale: outstanding; good; requires improvement; inadequate.

In terms of the key judgement relating to “The experiences and progress of children looked after and achieving permanence”, a local authority is likely to be judged good if:

“…Children and young people attend school or other educational provision and they learn. Accurate and timely assessments of their needs, as well as specialist support where it is needed, help them to make good progress in their learning and development wherever they live. They receive the same support from their carers as they would from a good parent. The attainment gap between them and their peers is narrowing. The local authority maintains accurate and up-to-date information about how looked after children are progressing at school and takes urgent and individual action when they are not achieving well. All looked after children and young people attend a good school.

Appendix 2: The Key Judgements Made During School Inspections

Inspectors evaluate the quality of the education provided in the school. In doing this, they consider all the evidence gathered to support the judgements they must make.

In coming to the judgement about the school’s overall effectiveness, inspectors should consider whether the standard of education meets the acceptable standard of ‘good’, or exceeds it and is ‘outstanding’. If it does not meet the acceptable standard, inspectors will consider whether it ‘requires improvement’ or is ‘inadequate’.

Grade descriptors are provided in the school inspection handbook. These descriptors should not be used as a checklist. They must be applied adopting a ‘best fit’ approach, which relies on the professional judgement of the inspection team. The exception is that teaching must be outstanding for overall effectiveness to be outstanding.

  • The quality of teaching, learning and assessment is at least good;
  • All other key judgements are likely to be good or outstanding. In exceptional circumstances, one of the key judgement areas may require improvement, as long as there is convincing evidence that the school is improving it rapidly and securely towards good;
  • Deliberate and effective action is taken to promote pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development and their physical well-being;
  • Safeguarding is effective.

Outcomes for pupils

The descriptor for good is as follows:

  • Across almost all year groups and in a wide range of subjects, including in English and mathematics, current pupils make consistently strong progress, developing secure knowledge, understanding and skills, considering their different starting points;
  • In a wide range of subjects, the progress of disadvantaged pupils, disabled pupils and those with special educational needs currently on roll is close to or is improving towards that of other pupils with the same starting points;
  • Pupils read widely and often, with fluency and comprehension appropriate to their age. A very large majority of pupils in Year 1 achieve the expected standard in the national phonics check;
  • Pupils’ progress is above average or improving across most subject areas. Overall progress of disadvantaged pupils, disabled pupils and those with special educational needs is above average or improving;
  • From different starting points, the proportions of pupils making and exceeding expected progress in English and in mathematics are close to or above national figures. The progress of the very large majority of disadvantaged pupils is similar to or improving in relation to other pupils nationally;
  • Where attainment overall is low, it shows consistent improvement;
  • Pupils are well prepared for the next stage of their education, training or employment and have attained relevant qualifications. The proportion of pupils progressing to higher and further education establishments, apprenticeships, employment or training is close to or above average. These pupils do so at a level suitable to meet appropriate career plans.