NAVSH Report to the APPG for Children in Care January 17

Fully endorse Corporate Parenting Principles- stability in home lives, relationships and education or work – crucially important.  Essential to consider education at the same time as care planning.
Publication of local offer for care leavers very helpful alongside extension of Personal Adviser role.  An opportunity to share good practice of wider role of Corporate Parents around education and training.
Agree information and advice for promoting educational achievement must be made available.  There should be an opportunity, for NAVSH, to share good practice on how this is best achieved.
NAVSH is strongly in agreement that the person employed to promote educational achievement on behalf of a local authority is employed by a local authority at least at strategic manager level and with sufficient time to perform the role.

With regard to ’relevant child’ NAVSH cautiously welcomes this development recognising that ceasing to have ‘looked after’ legal status does not mean all the challenges a child may experience around trauma and attachments suddenly ceases.

In future statutory guidance it will be important for the DFE to draw a distinction in the role of the local authority as a Corporate Parent for children in its care in comparison to a relevant child where they will not be the Corporate Parent.  The status of this guidance and OFSTED’s role in including this as an inspection focus is essential.  NAVSH will be pleased to contribute to subsequent guidance once the Bill receives Royal Assent.  Updated guidance will also be required for school Governing Bodies and the Designated Person in schools around the expansion of their role to include relevant children and specifically those adopted.  Numbers will remain small in individual schools but there will be an increase in workload.

With regard to the role of a Virtual School Head this proposal, as it stands, will more than double the number of children and young people they may be asked to support.  What is reasonable in practice and what might the expectations of schools, parents and adoptive parents be?  Advice and signposting to training, services to avoid exclusion or assisting with admissions.  Perhaps how the pupil premium might be best utilised to enhance learning and remove barriers to learning.  All of these activities seem reasonable and proportionate to the role of VSH. However, the distinction needs to be made between advice and signposting and intervention at a strategic or operational level. The former can be managed with a small increase in resources, the latter is labour intensive, often complex and may blur the boundaries between children for whom a Virtual Head is the Corporate Parent and children for whom this is not the case.  Support inside the classroom will be best addressed by the designated person in schools and schools/ colleges themselves. Further review of how Virtual school teams are funded, in light of these additional responsibilities, is recommended by NAVSH.

It is imperative the uniqueness of the Virtual School Head role; to be strategic and to effectively promote and champion the cases of individual children in care/care leavers, including UASC, is not diluted.
NAVSH considers it is important for the Designated Person in school to be a qualified, senior teacher, who has access to training and who has enough seniority in a school to positively influence outcomes for children in care and relevant children. With the role of the Personal Adviser extended to those aged 25 who want support.  The Designated Person role should apply to Further Education Colleges.  It is also important to acknowledge the Pupil Premium Plus does not apply to anyone over the age of 16.  The bursary for children in care, however, does support this age group but performs a different function as it is there to support the young person’s basic needs for example transport, rather than additional support. In view of this we would recommend extending Pupil Premium Plus to the end of statutory education.

Alan Clifton | Chair NAVSH

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