Children who are being accommodated, or who have been taken into care, by a local authority (i.e. under section 20 or sections 31 or 38 of the Children’s Act 1989) are legally defined as being ‘looked after’ by the local authority.
Around 70% of looked after children have some form of SEN, and it is likely that a significant proportion of them will have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plan.
Local Authorities will have particular responsibilities for these children and will act as ‘Corporate Parent’.
To support this all maintained schools and academies and free schools must appoint a Designated Teacher for looked after children. Where that role is carried out by a person other than the SEN Co-ordinator (SENCO), Designated Teachers should work closely with the SENCO to ensure that the implications of a child being both looked after and having SEN are fully understood by relevant school staff.
In Stockport we have a Virtual School Head (VSH) who leads a virtual school team, which tracks the progress of children looked after by the authority as if they attended a single school.
Looked after children will have a Care Plan, which sets out how the local authority will meet the care needs of the child. The plan will include health, education, emotional and behavioural development, identity, family and social relationships, social presentation and self-care skills. The Care Plan will specifically include a Personal Education Plan (PEP) and a Health Plan (both are a statutory requirement) which will particularly assess and set out the child’s education and health needs. It may be through making these assessments that a child’s SEN will be identified.
It is important to ensure the annual review of an EHC plan coincides with a review of a child’s PEP which feeds into the review of the wider Care Plan. Social workers and SEN teams will need to work closely together to ensure that transitions from being looked after to returning home are managed effectively, to ensure continuing provision.
Please see Stockport's Webpage for looked after children.