Why are designated teachers needed?
The role of the designated teacher is key in improving outcomes for looked after children and young people.
In the year ending 31 March 2016, the number of children looked after by local authorities was 70,440. Three quarters of looked after children were in foster placements. Attainment for the looked after population is lower than national levels at all ages of assessment. In the year to 31 March 2015 14% of looked after children gained 5 A*-C or equivalent including English and Maths compared to 53% of non-looked after children.
And it is not just academic achievement, looked after children have a higher rate of challenging behaviour, poor mental health and special educational needs. Looked After children are also much more likely to be permanently excluded from school.
The impact of this early disadvantage continues to later life, fewer than 6% of care leavers go on to Higher Education and care leavers are over-represented in the prison population according to government statistics.
So what can we do to raise the wellbeing and achievement of looked after children and young people?
To improve outcomes virtual school heads and designated teachers work together to advocate for looked after children, supporting them through the education system using specific funding to offer targeted interventions such as one to one teaching to improve outcomes.
The Designated teacher develops relationships with the child and carer supporting the child to engage in school life and ensures that all staff understand the things which affect how looked after children learn and achieve.
Everyone involved in helping looked after children achieve in education should:
- have high expectations of looked after children’s involvement in learning and educational progress;
- be aware of the emotional, psychological and social effects of loss and separation from birth families
- know the targets set and strategies to be employed.
Each Looked After Child has a Personal Education Plan (PEP) and this plan is the responsibility of the Designated Teacher to prepare and keep this document up to date. The designated teacher works to drive attention to delivering the plan and improving the chances, providing opportunities for the looked after child. The PEP should set high expectations for a pupil’s progress, and put in place any support necessary to achieve those goals.
Our course explores the responsibilities of the role and gives practical advice on topics such as preparing the Personal Educational Statement. It uses case studies and example PEPs with SMART targets that could be included in a PEP. With reflective exercises through the course, learners are encouraged to think about how the course relates to pupils they work with.
If you would like more information on this course please do get in touch.