Your education questions answered - pt 3

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Today we're discussing Personal Education Plans, pupil premium plus and special educational needs.

Written for social workers, foster carers, residential care workers and independent reviewing officers, A Guide to the Education of Looked After Children aims to demystify the complexities of the education system and explore how the legal requirements should influence practice. We put your education questions to three of our fostering and education experts, Bernadette Alexander and Doug Lawson, co-authors of the education guide and Lisa Belletty, programme manager of The Fostering Network’s Inspiring Voices programme.​

I don’t agree with my child’s Personal Education Plan, how much say can I have in the PEP?

Carers are vital to the educational progress of their foster children and they are expected to participate fully in all PEPs. They, therefore, have a very important voice in the PEP and their views should be listened to.

Virtual school heads are responsible for PEPs being used as effective tools. If a foster carer does not agree with their child’s PEP, they should raise this with the virtual school head, discuss the reasons for their disagreement and what might be done.  Furthermore, the PEP is a statutory part of the Care Plan so that any concerns about the PEP may also be raised during Looked After Child Reviews.  It is very important for the wellbeing and educational progress of the child that the team around the child are 'singing from the same hymn sheet’ and this may sometimes involve compromise.

See section 8, The Personal Education Plan, in A Guide to the Education of Looked After Children for more information.

What is pupil premium plus (PPP) supposed to be spent on and who gets to decide?

Pupil premium plus (PPP) is a sum of money allocated to local authorities to be spent in a way that benefits the educational needs of looked after children.

The spend of the pupil premium plus should be closely aligned to the child’s Personal Education Plan and used according to their needs. This means that although the local authority is allocated a total amount based on £1,900 for each looked after child, some children will be allocated more or less than others based on their individual needs.

Pupil premium plus must be managed by the virtual school head, and they will be required to keep an account of spending and report annually on the use of PPP. Most virtual school heads will have developed a policy on its use for their local authority. PPP may be used to pay for interventions such as additional teaching assistant support, booster and revision classes for children who attract pupil premium or for enrichment activities.  It may not be used to pay for interventions which the school would provide for all students anyway or to pay for items of uniform, lunches, trips or clubs which are expected to come from the foster carer’s allowance.

See section 9, Pupil Premium Plus, in A Guide to the Education of Looked After Children for more information.

Can I ask for the pupil premium plus (PPP) to pay for equipment or activities outside of school?

Please ask your virtual school head for a copy of their policy for a direct answer to this question.

The use of the PPP should be discussed at each Personal Education Plan meeting and recommendations for its use recorded in the PEP document.  However, the virtual school head who manages the PPP will need to agree to its use, ensuring it is being used in accordance with the local authority virtual school’s policy and the Department for Education guidance.  If the equipment or activities promote attainment and accelerate progress, it may be that the virtual school head will authorise its use, however it should not be used for activities or equipment that should be paid for from the foster carer’s allowance.

See section 9, Pupil Premium Plus, in A Guide to the Education of Looked After Children for more information.

I think the child I’m caring for might have special educational needs, how can I get them diagnosed?

According to data from the Department for Education, around two thirds of looked after children have some sort of special educational need.

I would suggest speaking to the child’s social worker and the designated teacher at their school to highlight and explain your concerns, and share your feelings at the meeting held to renew the child’s PEP. They should work with the school’s special educational needs coordinator (SENCO) to determine the needs of your foster child and how the school can best work to support them.

If the child in your care requires an assessment for an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan, formerly known as a Statement of Special Educational Need, a request will need to be made to the local authority in which the child lives. This request can be made by a member of school staff, a person with parental responsibility or the child themselves if aged 16-25 years old.

See section 13, Special Educational Needs and Disability, in A Guide to the Education of Looked After Children for more information.

Read part 1 and part 2 of the education blog series.

​​You can find more information, advice and guidance about the issues surrounding the education of looked after children in our new education guide. This essential guide is £12.50 for members of The Fostering Network and £25 for non-members. Order your copies today by visiting or calling 0844 335 1892.​​