The role of the Virtual School
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 their parents, guardians, and educators. These duties apply to children who are in early years provision and continue throughout the compulsory years of education, where the child is in provision funded in part or in full by the state.
Who are our previously looked after children?
Previously looked-after children are defined as those who 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. The duties also extend to children who were adopted from ‘state care’ outside of England and Wales, if the ‘state care’ was provided by a public authority, a religious organisation or any other organisation whose sole or main purpose is to benefit society.
How are Previously Looked After Children supported?
Additional funding known as pupil premium is available to help to improve the attainment of PLAC and close the attainment gap between this group and their peers, reflecting the significant additional barriers faced by these children.
It has been recognised that “74% of those adopted in 2014-15 entered care due to abuse or neglect. Their needs do not change overnight and they do not stop being vulnerable just because they are in a loving home. Their experiences in early life can have a lasting impact which can affect the child many years after adoption. We therefore believe that teachers and schools have a vital role to play in helping these children emotionally, socially and educationally by providing specific support, to raise their attainment and address their wider needs.” — Department for Education (2015)
What difficulties can adopted and permanently placed children experience?
- Forming trusting relationships with adults
- Social skills and relationships with peers
- Executive functioning skills, such as planning, organising, remembering, inhibiting their impulses, focusing their attention, and initiating tasks
- Speech and language difficulties
- Learning delays or difficulties
- Managing their strong feelings, such as shame, sadness, anxiety, and anger
- Coping with transitions and change
- Sensory processing
Who is entitled to funding?
Any pupil in reception to year 11 who was recorded on the October census as no longer looked after by a local authority (LA) or other state care because of:
- A special guardianship order
- A child arrangements order (previously known as a residence order)
From April 2023, this includes pupils adopted from state care from outside England and Wales
How much is the funding?
The funding for school-age children (in years reception – year 11) is £2530 for the 2023-2024 academic year.
How can I make sure my child’s school is receiving Pupil Premium Plus Funding?
In order, for schools to access the funding, parents and guardians must declare their child’s adoptive, SGO or CAO status directly to the school before the school completes the October census. Parents and guardians must provide evidence, for example, a copy of the legal order, or a confirmation letter from the local authority which placed their child. Parents should not need to declare their child’s status again until their child changes school.
How can I make sure that my child is receiving the Pupil Premium Plus Funding?
This money is not ring-fenced for your child. However, we would expect a proportion to be spent on every PLAC each year. The reason for this flexibility is that PLAC are only recorded once per year in the October censor meaning numbers can fluctuate and the children needs can vary. By allowing schools this fluidity they can ensure maximum impact for this cohort of children. Although the school can make the final decision, it should be made following parental consultation and show direct evidence that it is benefiting their cohort of PLAC and according to children’s needs.
How do I know what the school is using the Pupil Premium Plus Funding for?
Designated teachers should encourage parents and guardians’ involvement in deciding how the PP+ is used to support their child and be the main contact for queries about its use. This could be via an information-sharing meeting with all parents, or on an individual basis.
Having PEP meetings with the Designated Teacher is a very useful and effective way of discussing the progress and needs of the child as well as discussing (if appropriate) the use of PP+ funding. Designated Teachers find it an effective way of understanding and overseeing this cohort of children as well as individual’s needs; using the findings to plan for future training, interventions or resources needed within school.
Information on what the school uses its Pupil Premium funding for should be available on their website or ask the school’s Designated Teacher for further information in the first instance.