What should the carer look for in a school?
Visit the school, if possible with the child once a school has been identified by the Virtual School and social worker, with the input of the carer. Most schools have open days or evenings, but it is also good practice for parents and carers to arrange an appointment to be shown round at other times. Does the school seem welcoming? Look out for purposeful activity and evidence that the children’s work is valued by being put on display. Check if the school is well run: policies can give useful information on how the school deals with special educational needs, equal opportunities, behaviour and bullying, for example.
A report on the school written by Ofsted (Estyn for Welsh schools) can be found on the Ofsted website, or ask for a copy from the school or local library. The school prospectus includes details of recent results of national tests and public examinations.
What do the admission rules say? These decide how places are allocated when more people apply than there are places. The Government expects schools and Local Authorities to give top priority to Children in Care in allocating places when schools are over-subscribed. Carers should say on the application form that they are applying for a Child in Care.
What support does the school usually provide for children who may need extra help to learn? Ask for a copy of the school’s special educational needs policy if the child has learning difficulties, including emotional and behavioural difficulties.
Taking up a place. Well planned moves and transition support should be detailed in the child’s Personal Education Plan. The designated teacher is responsible for liaising with their counterpart in the new school to enable information, including the Personal Education Plan (PEP), to be passed on quickly so that any support can be put in place without delay. Teachers responsible for pastoral care should make sure that a child is helped to settle in, for example by matching the child to a ‘buddy’.