Children in Care & Care Leavers

There are many people who can help support your education if you are in care or a care leaver. There are those people around you at home and at school that can help but also your social worker and other professionals. If there are any difficulties with your education or you just want some extra help then you, or those around you, might get some support from The Virtual School Head in your local authority (the one you are in the care of).

The Virtual School is the term given to the way the local authority checks that looked after children and young people are doing well in their education.

It’s called a Virtual School because it monitors all looked after children in their different school and imagines them as pupils of one ‘virtual’ school. It collects information about the progress looked after children are making and can provide help, advice, funding through the Pupil Premium and support to make sure everyone reaches their full potential.

The Personal Education Plan (PEP)

Every child and Young Person who is in care must have a Personal Education Plan which gets completed every six months. There are different parts of the PEP to be filled in by different people (social worker, teacher, child/young person) and other parts of the PEP are filled in during a PEP meeting. It is a chance to discuss how you are getting on in your education and what needs to happen for you to make good progress and achieve what you hope to.

Most PEPs also have a section which can be used to apply for funding for activities or resources which will help you with your education and learning.

It is important that you are involved in your PEP so that your views, how you feel about your education and anything you think would help you can be heard in the PEP Meeting.

Pupil Premium Plus

The Pupil Premium is money given by the government to The Head of the Virtual School to be used to improve the educational achievements of children and young people in care. The Virtual School Head gets allocated £1900 for all school age children and young people (5-16) to provide extra resources and support if you need it. Most of this money goes directly to your schools so that they can provide the help you need. The PEP is used to help identify the areas you may need extra help with.

The Pupil Premium money can be used for a variety of things which can help you in your education for example; one to one tuition, IT equipment, educational visits, books, learning mentors and support assistants.  If you can think of anything in particular that would help you achieve better at school you should talk to your social worker, teacher or carer.


It can be difficult deciding what to do when you finish your GCSEs but you should receive advice and support to help you make the right decision for you.

There are many opportunities available once you complete your GCSEs. You could stay on to do A Levels at 6th Form, go to college or start an apprenticeship. The charity Barnardos is keen for the government to do more to help care leavers get apprenticeships.

If you are lucky, your local authority will providing apprenticeships, traineeships and work experience for looked after children and care leavers.

If you stay in education you may be entitled to a bursary of up to £1200 to help with travel and resources. 

Hopefully, you will progress to either employment or higher education.

Higher Education 

There is a lot of support available for care leavers who want to go to university. Hopefully, you will have had opportunities to do university taster days and activities during your time in school.

UCAS offer specific advice for care leavers on their website. It really helps if you tell them you experienced care as this will help you get both financial and practical support.

Also check out their amazing new interactive website to help you identify the best place for you to study, along with lots of information about funding.

If you’re worried about funding a degree Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis, offers some sound advice.