Summary of the main requirements
Being a good teacher for a LAC is only partly about academic results. It's also about being aware of a child's situation and dealing with it sensitively.
When a child first goes into care, they will be finding the experience of living with the new family traumatic. They may have been involved in trauma which led to them going into care. When you’re a classroom teacher with thirty children, it’s hard to remember that. But it can be, and often is, at the root of a lot of different behaviour, and can be a huge block to that young person learning. You have to engage the child in a way that’ll help them move through the difficulties they are facing.
Some lessons may be particularly painful for a looked after child. Citizenship classes where children learn about families and relationships are an obvious area. For some sex education or physical education may be ordeals if there has been sexual abuse. Others may simply find festive celebrations like Christmas, which tend to centre on the family, hard to handle. Obviously children in care should participate in all these lessons, but teachers should find a way to teach that does not leave a cared-for child feeling exposed and singled out.
Another issue is bullying - or just unwelcome curiosity from other children in the school. Helping a child to plan what they want to tell their peer group can make a big difference.
Who can be a Designated Teacher for children in care?
The Designated Teacher for children in care must be:
- A qualified teacher working at the school as a teacher
- A head teacher or acting head teacher.
Most of the tasks of the role can be delegated to a competent member of staff but the Designated Teacher is accountable for all LAC at the school.
What must the Designated Teacher do?
- The educational achievement of each looked after child in school is of importance and the Designated Teacher must endeavour to ensure this is monitored, tracked and promoted and where relevant, accelerated, promoting a culture of high expectation.
- Lead on the development and implementation of the PEP along with input for the most effective use of the Pupil Premium during the Personal Education Planning meeting to benefit the child.
- To ensure that the Pupil Premium funding, and additional budget share funding where relevant, is used to support the learning objectives for the child, and to be accountable for how it is spent with outcome evidenced.
- Be a source of advice for both teaching and non-teaching staff, and make them aware of the difficulties and educational disadvantage faced by children and young people in care, and understand the need for positive systems of support to overcome them.
- To inform members of staff of the general educational needs of children who are in care, and to promote the involvement of these children in school homework clubs, extra-curricular activities, home reading schemes, school councils, etc.
- To act as an advocate for children and young people in care.
- To make sure the young person has a voice in setting learning targets.
- To communicate, support and help develop systems for liaising with carers and social workers, and birth parents where appropriate.
- To hold a supervisory brief for all children in care, e.g. to ensure all relevant education and care information is available to school staff where relevant, and carer(s), and that this information is kept up to date, and used on a need to know basis to help the student overcome obstacles to learning and progress.
- To track and support the educational progress of all children who are looked after in order to inform the school’s development plan and prioritise children in care who would benefit from 1:1 tuition.
- To intervene if there is evidence of individual underachievement by use of the Pupil Premium funding to accelerate progress.
- To intervene if there is evidence of absence from school or internal truancy
- To inform the planning and, where relevant, the transition for looked after children post-16, and also monitor progress of children if they leave care.
- Produce a report for governors at least once a year.
Remember, the Designated Teacher doesn't have to do it all. Make sure the responsibility for children in care is shared amongst all staff in the school.