Promoting Education for Looked after Young People
We can all agree that promoting education for young people is important. Sadly, Looked After Children often have much lower education attainment than that of their peers. This week, we will look at some of the reasons for this, and what we can do to give them extra support.
Looked After children are seen as some of the most vulnerable in our society. There are many factors impacting their life chances, many of which they have no control over.
- Missing a significant amount of schooling. This might be due to neglectful parenting, persistent truanting or exclusion from mainstream school
- Undiagnosed or misdiagnosed learning needs, such as ADHD, ASD, Sensory Processing Disorder or Attachment Disorders
- Frequent changes of placement and/or school
- Dealing with trauma
PEP meetings are held every term, usually at the child’s school. They are attended by:
- Foster Carers
- The child’s teacher
- Any support staff they work with
- The child’s Social Worker
- The child or young person where appropriate
- Birth family where appropriate
In these meetings, the child’s education is discussed, to make sure they are making progress. A Foster Carer will be able to give important insight into the interaction between home and school. They may also represent the views of the young person, if they are not attending.
Making sure that children and young people are able to make up any lost ground, and remain in education, is vital. Regular PEP meetings mean that any potential problems are identified early and proper support put in place.
This is a body of professionals, based in each Local Authority. Their job is to help children and young people in care to get the best educational outcomes. This is done by:
- Maintaining a list of all children in care for that area
- Sourcing and supporting appropriate school places
- Gathering information on attendance, attainment and progress
- Working with schools to address issues which may cause a child to underperform
- Managing the Pupil Premium for each child
Often, a representative from the Virtual School will attend PEP meetings and/or LAC Review meetings. They will ask the school how the child’s Pupil Premium is being spent and suggest resources which may support the child in their education.
Sometimes, when a young person is struggling with lots of difficult issues, they find it too hard to be in school full time. In these cases, it might be best for the young person to attend school part-time.
It can be daunting to consider having a young person at home instead of at school. Foster Carers with Lorimer have access to some additional support where appropriate, to help the young person be ready to get back into full time education.
It’s important that as a Foster Carer, you remain non-judgmental and promote alternative activities which allow the young person to progress in different ways. Remember, a young person who cannot access education is more likely to suffer with poor mental health, self-esteem and engage in anti-social behaviours. Having support from their Foster Carer can make all the difference.
Alternative Educational Providers
For some children and young people, mainstream school is not the right setting for them to learn. This could be for any of the reasons listed at the beginning of this blog.
Although there is a prevailing thought that children who are not in mainstream school will not achieve as well as their peers. However, our Foster Carers know that children who are struggling in a mainstream school are more likely to become disengaged and leave with no formal qualifications than those who have the right support and access to alternative curriculums.
Being settled and supported in school feeds into a child’s sense of security and wellbeing. Therefore, it’s so important that a child has access to the right education setting for them.
The dreaded word in many households! Homework is a critical link between home and school – as well as a potential battleground.
Despite this, completing homework together can be a fantastic way for Foster Carers to show support to the child as well as improving their academic skills.
- Reading together every night can form part of a calming bedtime routine and is a lovely time for sharing favourite stories
- Researching topics online together promotes teamwork and co-learning
- Look for every little achievement and PRAISE the child
Often, young people coming into care have not had the benefit of a cohesive relationship between home and school. It may take some time (and patience!) for them to see the positives. Keep going, and be creative 😊
Finally, we would like to wish all children and young people who have received exam results this month a huge CONGRATULATIONS! Whether you have the results you wanted or not, your hard work has been recognized and you can stride on into your next chapter with pride.