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Education support for looked after children and young people with SEND

The Virtual School and College for BCP Council has a statutory duty to monitor and oversee the quality of education provision for children in care and is committed to raising the educational attainment of all children and young people in care including those with special educational needs and disabilities.

This is achieved through:

  • the early identification of special educational needs
  • assisting schools to ensure that the correct level and type of intervention is in place for each young person in care
  • ensuring that this support is effectively meeting the child’s special educational needs.

Children and young people in the care system have a range of special educational needs, from SEN Support level to those with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP). As such, education will be provided in a range of mainstream and specialist settings. The Virtual School and College works with all education settings and other departments in the council and health, to help schools fulfil their duties set out in the Equality Act 2010, the Children and Families Act 2014 and the SEND Code of Practice 2015. We do this through:

  • engagement with Lead Teacher for Inclusion
  • SEND advice: professional development that includes training, videos, workshops, SEND forums and presentations
  • targeted support
  • offering advice and challenge

The Virtual School and College wants to ensure that all Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole schools feel supported and have an inclusive culture. 

The Virtual School and College fosters relationships with other agencies working within the field of SEND, including local groups and national organisations.  

When a child or young person with SEND comes into care, the Virtual School and College liaise with the Designated Teacher and SENCO in the education provision and the social worker to arrange a meeting to complete the first Personal Education Plan (PEP) as part of the Care Plan within 10 working days and to be available in time for the first Children in Care Review.

Children in Care with Complex Health and Disabilities:

The Child Health and Disabilities Team (CHAD) are a specialist team of Social Workers and Family Support Practitioners whose core purpose is to provide a service to children and young people with complex health needs and disabilities (from 0 to 18 years of age). A child or young person is disabled if ‘he/she has a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on his/hers ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities’ (the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA 1995) and are lifelong life limiting. The service, which sits within Children and Families Services in the local authority, aims to ensure that every child in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole with a complex health need and disability benefits from child-centred, high-quality, flexible and responsive services to help them live a successful and fulfilling life.

There are times when children being supported by the CHAD Team come into the care of the LA under Section 20 or a Care Order. This is when they move into foster care or a residential placement subject to parents signing section 20.

When a young person with complex health needs and disabilities becomes looked after to the LA, the Virtual School will monitor and support the child and their education provision as detailed previously. However, although the statutory requirement for PEP meetings is relevant, in carrying out their role, the Virtual School are mindful of the pressures that families of children and young people with complex needs face and make every effort to minimise the number of meetings required by combining meetings with those requested by other professionals.