Local councils must protect children’s welfare. Your educational needs and achievements are part of this. Your social worker should make sure your education rights are taken care of.
The law says there must be a person in your council who gives their full attention to the education of children in care. This person is called a Virtual School Head.
They’re called a Virtual School Head, because they are not actually based in a school (though they must be a qualified teacher).
It is the Virtual School Head’s job to be a strong champion for the education of children in care. Brilliant!
Your educational achievements must be a top priority for everyone who cares for, and about, you.
Achievements include things like having good attendance, showing a great attitude to learning, making progress, and becoming a member of your school council. Passing tests and exams are a massive achievement too!
There should be no limit to how far you take your education – see below for information on going to university.
If you have been able to work on things that make your angry or upset at school, that’s also an educational achievement.
Your school must have someone who takes charge of making sure children in care do well in their education. (You mightn’t know who they are, but there will be other children in care in your school – there are over 72,000 children in care in the whole country).
If you have recently arrived at your children’s home, and you have had to leave your school, your new place must be sorted within 20 days.
Your social worker and others must try their hardest to get you into a school which has a great reputation (judged good or outstanding by Ofsted). Your wishes and feelings must be taken into account.
Your own education plan
Every child or young person in care must have a Personal Education Plan (called PEP for short). This is part of your overall Care Plan.
Your PEP must say:
- Where you have been to school or college before, or where else you have been educated (you might have had home tutors, for example).
- What your attendance and behaviour was like in the past.
- What you achieved academically and in other ways (for instance, you may have been in a drama group or have won awards for swimming or cycling).
- If you have any special educational needs.
- Where you are going to be educated now.
- The help you’ll get to do well in your education.
- If any changes are planned in your education, what’s going to be done to make sure these changes don’t have a bad effect on you.
- What you enjoy doing in your free time.
- How your carers will help you do well in your education and enjoy your free time.
In your children’s home
The person in charge of your children’s home has a lot of legal rules to follow when it comes to your education. We think they are incredibly important. The person in charge of your home must make sure:
- Staff help you achieve your education and training targets.
- Staff support your learning and progress. This includes helping you to learn how to study on your own.
- Staff understand any difficulties you have in learning, and they try and help you work through these difficulties.
- Staff help you understand the importance and value of education, learning, training and employment.
- Staff encourage ways for you to learn outside of school or college.
- Staff keep in regular contact with your school or college.
- Staff take action if you need extra or different help with your education.
- If you have been excluded from school, or you are not going to school, staff help you get educational and training support some other way.
- If you are 16 or older, staff help you get sorted in further education, training or employment.
- You have the equipment and other things you need (like a quiet study area) to learn well.
Money for college
If you are aged 16 to 19 and attend a further education college, you could get up to £1,200 a year. This is called a bursary. Ask your children’s home manager or social worker about it!
Money for university
If you are under the age of 25 years, and are going to university for the first time, you could get up to £2,000 from your local council. This is in addition to financial support that you can get like any other student. It is separate from your leaving care grant.
Your council should make sure you have somewhere to stay during university breaks. They should be mega proud of you too. Many councils have awards and celebration events for care leavers. Excellent!