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Previously cared for children

Information, resources and guidance for parents/carers, educational settings and any other agencies

The Virtual School has a duty to promote the educational achievement of previously looked after children through the provision of advice and information to

  • any person that has parental responsibility for the child
  • providers of funded early years education, Designated Teachers for previously looked-after children in maintained schools and academies
  • any other person the local authority considers appropriate for promoting the educational achievement of relevant children.

For more information, refer to the Department for Education guidance: Promoting the education of looked-after and previously looked-after children - GOV.UK

The Designated Teacher for previously cared for children

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 states that governing bodies have a duty to designate a suitable member of staff to promote the educational achievement of previously cared for children, including those adopted from abroad. The designated teacher ensures all staff are aware of the needs of these students and contributes to school-wide policies affecting them, including the use of Pupil Premium and other sources of funding. The designated teacher should work closely with parents and guardians to ensure the best outcomes for the child, socially, emotionally and educationally.

The full statutory guidance for designated teachers can be found at Designated teacher for looked-after and previously looked-after children - GOV.UK

If you are the parent/carer of a previously cared for child and you have concerns about your child’s education or wellbeing at school, you should contact the school and request a meeting with your child’s teacher/tutor, the school’s Designated Teacher for children we care for and previously cared for children and/or the Special Education Needs and Disabilities Coordinator.  You might also wish to invite your child’s Head of Year if your child attends a secondary setting

The drop-down tabs below provide specific information to support parents/carers, educational settings and support services in understanding what previously looked after children are entitled to during the Early Years and throughout the compulsory years of education.  Users will also find links to useful resources

Click on the down arrows below to open details

Admissions

Care experienced children are among the most vulnerable children in society and it is of paramount importance that a school place is found that is in the best interests of the child as quickly as possible. Admission authorities must give highest priority to Children We Care For and Previously Cared for Children.

The admission requirements for Previously Cared For Children are set out in the School Admissions Code. This Code applies to maintained schools and academies, including free schools.

Please refer to the Oxfordshire County Council School Admissions page for further information.

Please also refer to Department for Education guidance on the admissions priority for children adopted from state care outside of England.

Early Years

Funded education

Go to Early Education Funding (EEF) for 2, 3 and 4 year olds for more information.

Early Years Pupil Premium

Adopted 3- and 4-year-olds are now entitled to Early Years Pupil Premium to help them reach their potential.  If the education provider can provide a copy of the child’s adoption certificate to the Local Authority, the provider will receive an additional £0.53p per hour on top of the free early education that the children receive. The maximum a provider can currently receive per year is £302.10.  It is therefore up to adoptive parents to give a copy of the adoption certificate to the provider if they wish this Pupil Premium to be accessed.  In the case of children in adoptive placements who are not yet legally adopted, they will be identified through the 3- and 4-year-old funding team. 

More details:

Priority Admissions

All children who have been adopted from care in the UK should now receive priority for school admissions.  See Government extends guidance for prioritised school admissions to all adopted children (First 4 Adoption). This means you don’t have to live within the school catchment area to be able to get into the school.  All schools must publish their admissions criteria/policy which should be available on their website.  Do check individual school details.  Even faith schools generally have some places which are not reserved for their denomination and adopted children should be high on the list for the remainder of places.  Check individual school admission policies as there can be differences, especially with Academies.  Oxfordshire Schools Admissions office can be contacted via 0345 241 2487 / admissions.schools@oxfordshire.gov.uk and can advise you about individual cases.  Do tell them that your child was previously in care.

PEP Meetings

Even though a child may be in an adoptive placement, while they are legally still in care they will have Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings to review educational progress and discuss the use of the Pupil Premium for Children in Care.  At this stage, the Pupil Premium will be administered through the Virtual School of the Local Authority where the child was taken into care.  The PEP is the responsibility of the social worker as it is part of the care plan.  In Oxfordshire, a case worker from the Virtual School will support with that process, but they are not responsible for ensuring it takes place.

Once the Adoption Order comes through, the statutory PEP meetings stop as any intervention in the education of a previously looked-after child must be with the agreement of the person(s) who have parental responsibility for the child.  Like all parents, adoptive parents are responsible for overseeing their child’s progress in education.  Adoptive parents can request a more informal review meeting with school staff whenever they feel it appropriate.  Indeed, recent NICE guidelines recommend that children with attachment difficulties should have an educational review meeting at least once a year.  A suggested format for such a meeting can be downloaded from this website.

Adoption Support Fund

Money to fund therapeutic interventions is now available to adoptive families through the Adoption Support Fund (ASF).  Sometimes a child may receive play therapy or creative therapy on the school premises even though it is funded by the ASF.  To access the funding, parents/carers need to request an Assessment of Need from the appropriate Local Authority Adoption Team.  For 3 years after the Adoption Order, this will be the Local Authority that placed the child.  Thereafter, it is the Local Authority where the family live.

There is currently a cap of £5000 per year per child for therapeutic interventions.  In some cases, a further £2500 may be available for multi-disciplinary assessment. 

The Adoption Support Fund can be claimed for young people up to the age of 21 unless they have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in which case they can claim up to the age of 25. 

More details:

School Transitions

Moving educational settings, or even classes, can be very unsettling for children who have spent time in care.  They may need extra consideration and visits.  It can be helpful for the young person to be involved in the making of a transition booklet in school which they can then look at over the holidays.  This can include photos and details of what will stay the same and what will be new.

To support a child’s transition, it is advisable to hold a transition meeting to include representatives from the old and the new educational settings, as well as parents/carers.  See below supporting documents and links:

Primary

Pupil Premium Grant for Previously Cared For Children

This is additional funding from the government given to schools in England. It recognises that children who have spent time in care often need extra support in school as a result of their early experiences. As of April 2022, the grant is £2,410 per eligible pupil per year (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pupil-premium/pupil-premium) and is for students from Reception class up to Year 11.  In order to be eligible, students need to have been looked after by an English or Welsh local authority immediately before being adopted.

To receive this Pupil Premium Plus funding, the school needs to see evidence of a child’s adopted status so that they can enter this onto their January census.  A sensitive request from schools that adoptive parents should declare their child’s adopted status to access the grant will help facilitate this.  Many parents provide this evidence by giving the school a photocopy of their child’s adoption certificate as soon as the child joins a new school.  Parents can blank out any details they do not wish the school to see. Oxfordshire County Council is not able to verify a child’s adoptive status; this must come voluntarily from adopters.  The school should then receive the money the following financial year, post April.

Unlike Pupil Premium that was accessed through the Virtual School when the child was still legally in care, Pupil Premium money for adopted children comes directly from the Local Authority and is not ring-fenced for the individual adopted child.  Schools can pool Pupil Premium money for numerous children to gain maximum impact from the funding.  Every school should have a section about Pupil Premium on their website which explains how they have spent this income and what effect this has had.  It is good practice for schools to include parents in discussions around the most effective use of Pupil Premium Plus.  The following are possible ways it can be spent:

  • Whole school or individual training in attachment and trauma
  • Additional teaching assistant hours
  • Small group tuition in targeted subjects
  • Specialist assessments e.g. Educational Psychologist
  • Start up, or development of, a school-based nurture group
  • Start up, or development of, programmes such as Forest School, social groups, mindfulness
  • Resources such as iPads
  • Child mentoring
  • Music lessons

Currently, independent schools and home educating families cannot access Pupil Premium for children who have been adopted from care or have left care.

More information: 

Priority Admissions

All children who have been adopted from care in the UK should now receive priority for school admissions. See Government extends guidance for prioritised school admissions to all adopted children (First 4 Adoption).  This means you don’t have to live within the school catchment area to be able to get into the school.  All schools must publish their admissions criteria/policy which should be available on their website.  Do check individual school details.  Even faith schools generally have some places which are not reserved for their denomination and adopted children should be high on the list for the remainder of places.  Check individual school admission policies as there can be differences, especially with academies.  Oxfordshire Schools Admissions office can be contacted via 0345 241 2487 / admissions.schools@oxfordshire.gov.uk and can advise you about individual cases.  Do tell them that your child was previously in care.

PEP Meetings

Even though a child may be in an adoptive placement, whilst they are legally still in care they will have Personal Education Plan meetings to review progress and discuss use of the Pupil Premium for Children in Care.  At this stage the Pupil Premium will be administered through the Virtual School of the Local Authority where the child was taken into care. The PEP is the responsibility of the social worker as it is part of the care plan. In Oxfordshire, a case worker from the Virtual School will support with that process, but they are not responsible for ensuring it takes place.

Once the Adoption or Special Guardianship Order comes through, the statutory PEP meetings stop as any intervention in the education of a previously looked-after child must be with the agreement of the person(s) who have parental responsibility for the child.  Like all parents, adoptive parents are responsible for overseeing their child’s progress in education.  Adoptive parents can request a more informal review meeting with school staff whenever they feel it appropriate.  Indeed, recent NICE guidelines recommend that children with attachment difficulties should have an educational review meeting at least once a year. 

Download a suggested format for the Education Plan for Adopted and SGO children (docx format, 202Kb) for such a meeting.

Adoption Support Fund

Money to fund therapeutic interventions is now available to adoptive families through the Adoption Support Fund (ASF).  Sometimes a child may receive play therapy or creative therapy on the school premises even though it is funded by the ASF.  To access the funding, parents/carers need to request an Assessment of Need from the appropriate Local Authority Adoption Team.  For 3 years after the Adoption Order, this will be the Local Authority that placed the child.  Thereafter, it is the Local Authority where the family live.

There is currently a cap of £5000 per year per child for therapeutic interventions.  In some cases, a further £2500 may be available for multi-disciplinary assessment. 

The Adoption Support Fund can be claimed for young people up to the age of 21 unless they have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in which case they can claim up to the age of 25. 

More details:

School Transitions

Moving educational settings, or even classes, can be very unsettling for children who have spent time in care.  They may need extra consideration and visits.  It can be helpful for the young person to be involved in the making of a transition booklet in school which they can then look at over the holidays.  This can include photos and details of what will stay the same and what will be new.

To support a child’s transition, it is advisable to hold a transition meeting to include representatives from the old and the new educational settings, as well as parents/carers.  See below supporting documents and links:

Secondary

Pupil Premium Grant for Previously Cared For Children

This is additional funding from the government given to schools in England. It recognises that children who have spent time in care often need extra support in school as a result of their early experiences. As of April 2022, the grant is £2,410 per eligible pupil per year (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pupil-premium/pupil-premium) and is for students from Reception class up to Year 11.  In order to be eligible, students need to have been looked after by an English or Welsh local authority immediately before being adopted.

To receive this Pupil Premium Plus funding, the school needs to see evidence of a child’s adopted status so that they can enter this onto their January census.  A sensitive request from schools that adoptive parents should declare their child’s adopted status to access the grant will help facilitate this – don’t assume your child’s primary school has passed this information on.  Many parents provide this evidence by giving the school a photocopy of their child’s adoption certificate as soon as the child joins a new school.  Parents can blank out any details they do not wish the school to see. Oxfordshire County Council is not able to verify a child’s adoptive status; this must come voluntarily from adopters.  The school should then receive the money the following financial year, post April.

Unlike Pupil Premium that was accessed through the Virtual School when the child was still legally in care, Pupil Premium money for adopted children comes directly from the Local Authority and is not ring-fenced for the individual adopted child.  Schools can pool Pupil Premium money for numerous children to gain maximum impact from the funding.  Every school should have a section about Pupil Premium on their website which explains how they have spent this income and what effect this has had.  It is good practice for schools to include parents in discussions around the most effective use of Pupil Premium Plus.  The following are possible ways it can be spent:

  • Whole school or individual training in attachment and trauma
  • Additional teaching assistant hours
  • Small group tuition in targeted subjects
  • Specialist assessments e.g. Educational Psychologist
  • Start up, or development of, a school-based nurture group
  • Start up, or development of, programmes such as Forest School, social groups, mindfulness
  • Resources such as iPads
  • Child mentoring
  • Music lessons

Currently, independent schools and home educating families cannot access Pupil Premium for children who have been adopted from care or have left care.

More information: 

Priority Admissions

All children who have been adopted from care in the UK should now receive priority for school admissions. See Government extends guidance for prioritised school admissions to all adopted children (First 4 Adoption).  This means you don’t have to live within the school catchment area to be able to get into the school.  All schools must publish their admissions criteria/policy which should be available on their website.  Do check individual school details.  Even faith schools generally have some places which are not reserved for their denomination and adopted children should be high on the list for the remainder of places.  Check individual school admission policies as there can be differences, especially with academies.  Oxfordshire Schools Admissions office can be contacted via 0345 241 2487 / admissions.schools@oxfordshire.gov.uk and can advise you about individual cases.  Do tell them that your child was previously in care.

PEP Meetings

Even though a child may be in an adoptive placement, whilst they are legally still in care they will have Personal Education Plan meetings to review progress and discuss use of the Pupil Premium for Children in Care.  At this stage the Pupil Premium will be administered through the Virtual School of the Local Authority where the child was taken into care. The PEP is the responsibility of the social worker as it is part of the care plan. In Oxfordshire, a case worker from the Virtual School will support with that process, but they are not responsible for ensuring it takes place.

Once the Adoption or Special Guardianship Order comes through, the statutory PEP meetings stop as any intervention in the education of a previously looked-after child must be with the agreement of the person(s) who have parental responsibility for the child.  Like all parents, adoptive parents are responsible for overseeing their child’s progress in education.  Adoptive parents can request a more informal review meeting with school staff whenever they feel it appropriate.  Indeed, recent NICE guidelines recommend that children with attachment difficulties should have an educational review meeting at least once a year.  

Download a suggested format for the Education Plan for Adopted and SGO children (docx format, 203Kb) for such a meeting.

Adoption Support Fund

Money to fund therapeutic interventions is now available to adoptive families through the Adoption Support Fund (ASF).  Sometimes a child may receive play therapy or creative therapy on the school premises even though it is funded by the ASF.  To access the funding, parents/carers need to request an Assessment of Need from the appropriate Local Authority Adoption Team.  For 3 years after the Adoption Order, this will be the Local Authority that placed the child.  Thereafter, it is the Local Authority where the family live.

There is currently a cap of £5000 per year per child for therapeutic interventions.  In some cases, a further £2500 may be available for multi-disciplinary assessment. 

The Adoption Support Fund can be claimed for young people up to the age of 21 unless they have an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) in which case they can claim up to the age of 25. 

More details:

School Transitions

Moving educational settings, or even classes, can be very unsettling for children who have spent time in care.  They may need extra consideration and visits.  It can be helpful for the young person to be involved in the making of a transition booklet in school which they can then look at over the holidays.  This can include photos and details of what will stay the same and what will be new.

To support a child’s transition, it is advisable to hold a transition meeting to include representatives from the old and the new educational settings, as well as parents/carers.  See below supporting documents and links:

Post-16

Care-experienced young people aged 16 and over are not entitled to Pupil Premium funding to support their education like they were in the primary and secondary phases of their education. However, they may be able to access the following support:

For more information and advice, contact the Education, Employment and Training (EET) Service

Pupil Premium Grant

Since April 2014, schools in England have attracted Pupil Premium Grant for:

  • children adopted from care
  • children who left care under a Special Guardianship Order (SGO)
  • children who left care under a Child Arrangement Order (CAO).

The Pupil Premium Grant is not a personal budget for individual children, nor is it ring-fenced. The educational setting can spend the money how it sees fit for the benefit of the Previously Cared For Children cohort. Oxfordshire's Virtual School advises settings that it is best practice to involve parents and carers in expenditure decisions given the additional needs of Previously Cared For Children. More information on the appropriate use of the Pupil Premium Grant can be found within the above phase tabs and via the below guidance:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pupil-premium/pupil-premium

Pupil Premium Grant funding is paid at the start of the financial year as a single indicative amount. Following data verification by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), an adjustment is made for actual funded numbers later in the summer term.

For the financial year 2022 to 2023, the Pupil Premium Grant equates to £2,410 per Previously Cared For Child per annum.

Securing funding

To secure the Pupil Premium Grant, it is the responsibility of the educational setting to prompt parents and guardians who will have needed to inform the setting about their child’s circumstances in time for the setting to record the child’s status on the January census.

It is suggested by the Virtual School that you include a question regarding previously in care status both on your admissions form and at regular intervals when requesting information regarding Ever 6 FSM eligibility. 

An example letter (docx format, 14Kb) settings can send out regarding Previously Cared For status.

This will involve providing supporting evidence, for example, the Adoption Court Order. Settings must identify and indicate on the census that the child is eligible in order to receive the funding. Please ensure sensitivity and state that all information would be held strictly confidential.

Adoption Support Fund

The adoption support fund (ASF) provides funds to local authorities and regional adoption agencies (RAAs) to pay for essential therapeutic services for eligible adoptive and special guardianship order (SGO) families.

The ASF is available for children and young people up to and including the age of 21, or 25 with an education, health and care plan, who:

  • are living (placed) with a family in England while waiting for adoption
  • were adopted from local authority care in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland and live in England
  • were adopted from abroad and live in England with a recognised adoption status
  • were in care immediately before a SGO was made
  • left care under a special guardianship order which subsequently was changed to an adoption order, or vice versa
  • are under a residency order or child arrangement order (CAO) and were previously looked after
  • were previously looked after but where the adoption, special guardianship, residency or CAO placement has broken down, irrespective of any reconciliation plans

More information and how to apply

Special Guardianship

Information and advice for Special Guardians.

Elective Home Education

In England the law states that the responsibility for a child's education while they are of compulsory school age (currently 5-16 years) rests with their parents.  While most children attend the local state school, some are educated outside the state system in private schools or at home.  If you are considering Elective Home Education for your child, and would like to talk to someone about this, please call 01865 323513 or email ehe@oxfordshire.gov.uk to contact a member of our Elective Home Education Team.  

More information

Training

Oxfordshire’s Virtual School runs support and training for a range of partners including school staff, social care staff, foster carers, adoptive parents and Special Guardians. 

More information on the Virtual School’s training offer

You might also be able to access training from the following organisations that support adoption, Special Guardianship and other forms of permanent care:

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

If a child has additional needs and these are acting as a barrier to the child meeting their potential in school, there is a graduated pathway that can be used to help establish the right support. The following link will help you to access more information on how we cater for the needs of children with special education needs and disabilities in Oxfordshire: Special educational needs and disability: The local offer

The SEN Support Service (SENSS) is responsible for early intervention and statutory duties in relation to SEN. SENSS supports and empowers children and young people aged 0-25, their schools, settings and families sharing good practice in relation to different needs.

Parents/carers may want to consult SENDIASS Oxfordshire who provide free, confidential, and impartial advice to the parents of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities. Their website explains the sort of support they can offer: SENDIASS Oxfordshire | Information, advice & support in Oxfordshire

Accreditation

See below for a list of award schemes that recognise inclusive practice in schools (the list is not exhaustive or in any order of credibility). You may wish to investigate further in order to seek acknowledgment for your inclusive practice.

Read more about becoming an adoption-friendly school

Frequently asked questions

Are Previously Cared For Children entitled to Free School Meals (FSM)?

Not automatically. Free school meals are available to pupils in receipt of, or whose parents are in receipt of, one or more of the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit (provided you have an annual net earned income of no more than £7,400, as assessed by earnings from up to three of your most recent assessment periods)
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guarantee element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on – paid for four weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

In addition, the following pupils will be protected against losing their free school meals as follows:

From 1 April 2018, all existing free school meals claimants will continue to receive free school meals whilst Universal Credit is rolled out. This will apply even if their earnings rise above the new threshold during that time.

In addition, any child gaining eligibility for free school meals after 1 April 2018 will be protected against losing free school meals during the Universal Credit rollout
period.

Once Universal Credit is fully rolled out, any existing claimants that no longer meet the eligibility criteria at that point (because they are earning above the threshold or are no longer a recipient of Universal Credit) will continue to receive free school meals until the end of their current phase of education (i.e. primary or secondary).

The Universal Credit rollout is currently expected to complete in March 2022.

For more information, visit: https://www.gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals

Do state settings have to use a new UPN for adopted children?

Standard practice for pupils who are adopted after they have been allocated a UPN is that they should be issued with new permanent UPNs and their previous UPN should be deleted and not recorded under ‘former UPN’. As part of this process, it is important that there is no link retained between the pre-adoption record (with the original UPN) and the post-adoption record (with the new UPN).

However, in situations where the adoption creates no safeguarding risks to the individual pupil – for example, where the child has remained within the same school before, and after, adoption and has undergone no material change in identity as a result of the adoption, it is permissible to retain previous UPN information for the adopted pupil where express permission has been granted by both the pupil’s adopted parents and the designated manager of the local authority’s adoption service.

For more information, visit: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/unique-pupil-numbers

Can out-of-county children who are now living in Oxfordshire and awaiting an Adoption Order to live permanently with Oxfordshire-based/Oxfordshire-assessed parents access Oxfordshire post-adoption support or do they have to wait/access via the Local Authority they are in care with/being adopted from?

Yes, they can access post-adoption support in Oxfordshire as long as their Local Authority agrees to fund through Adoption Support Fund.

Additional sources of general information