When a child comes to live with you, one of the first things you may have to think about is their education. This may mean finding a nursery or school, or supporting them to continue their education in their current school.
Finding a school
Contact your local council for a list of schools in your area. You can also find details of local schools by going to the gov.uk website. Get as much information as you can about schools which are near you so you can think about which school might suit your child. You may want to visit the school, read the school’s most recent Ofsted report and its prospectus. In reality though there may not be much choice available if local schools are already full. If you are not offered a place at your preferred school you have a right of appeal.
Disability and special needs
A high proportion of children living in kinship care have a disability, additional needs or specific learning difficulties. All schools have a duty to adapt the curriculum to meet the needs of individual children. If your child learns more slowly or in a different way from other children, the school can set different work or try different teaching strategies. If you are concerned about your child’s progress it is important to talk to the school at an early stage. You may want to ask for a statutory assessment for your child to find out what their difficulties are. This is often known as the “statementing process” and may make it easier to get additional support for your child and help secure a place at your preferred school. Find more information here.
Difficulties at school
If a child you are bringing up is experiencing problems at school, for example difficulty in making friends, or if you suspect they are being bullied, you should bring this to the attention of the school. Most schools take bullying seriously and will have policies for tackling the problem. They may also be able to provide counselling or mentoring for the child. You may also want to disclose to the school what has happened in the child’s family that may be affecting them. ACE Education has information on its website about what to do if your child is being bullied and you feel the school is not taking the problem seriously. ACE also provides information on admissions and appeals, attendance and special educational needs and has links to other useful websites.
Pupil Premium Plus
The pupil premium is additional money given to schools in England to raise the attainment of eligible pupils. Schools qualify for this funding for every child who is in receipt of free school meals. From April 2014, looked after children and children who have left care under a Special Guardianship Order or a Residence Order attract Pupil Premium Plus funding (£1900 per child in 2014/15).
This reflects the fact that these children are likely to have experienced loss and trauma which can have a lasting impact. Schools have a vital role to play in providing support to raise their attainment and address their wider needs. The funding is not ring-fenced and is not for individual children, but schools must publish details of how they are using the money and the impact that it is having on pupil achievement.
If your child is eligible for the Pupil Premium Plus you should inform the school, as they may not be aware of the child’s status. Eligibility needs to be recorded in the January school census for the school to receive funding in the following financial year.
You may well find yourself having to help your child with homework. There are many websites that are able to help you by providing information and examples for all subjects and levels. Try BBC Schools for resources to support both primary and secondary curricula.
If you would like to get some advice on education, you may want to contact one of the organisations below. Alternatively, please contact our confidential advice service.
ACE provides a comprehenive range of advice and information on education issues. Advice and information covers state funded education in England only.
Helpline: 0808 800 2222
Bullying UK (part of Family Lives) gives advice and support to pupils, parents and teachers on ways of dealing with bullying at school.
CAF is the only UK-wide charity providing advice, information and support to the parents of all disabled children. Additionally, CAF operates a national advice service for special educational needs (SEN).
Coram Children’s Legal Centre
Telephone: 08088 020 008 Monday – Friday 8.00am – 8.00pm
Coram Children’s Legal Centre provides free legal information, advice and representation to children, young people, their families, carers and professionals on all aspects of English law and policy affecting children and young people.
Helpline: 0845 478 6345
Education Otherwise gives support and information to families whose children are being educated out of school or who are considering home-based education. There are local groups, individual contacts and information leaflets.
Helpline: 0808 800 2222 7.00am – midnight
Family Lives offers advice and support on all aspects of family life including children’s education. It also runs courses for parents and produces books and leaflets.
Independent Parental Special Education Advice (IPSEA)
Advice Line: 0800 018 4016
IPSEA is a national charity providing free legally based advice to families who have children with special educational needs.
National Parent Partnership Network
The National Parent Partnership Network offers information, advice and support for parents and carers of children and young people with special educational needs.
You can ask for details of your local service from your child’s school or Local Authority. You can also find details about their services, and contact details for your local service on their website at: www.parentpartnership.org.uk.
Parents for Inclusion
Helpline: 0800 652 3145 Monday and Wednesdays 10.00am-12.00pm
Parents for inclusion is a self-help organisation giving information, advice and support on education matters to parents of children with special educational needs. It has parent support groups and can help a parent prepare their representations or case for an appeal.
Telephone: 0207 923 5500
Place2Be is an integrated school-based service, offering swift access to counselling and other services. Place2Be supports pupils with emotional and behavioural problems who often miss out on receiving adequate help from statutory services.
Telephone: 01223 366052
The aim of Red Balloon is the recovery of bullied children. It provides an ‘intensive care’ full-time education for children who are unable to go to school because they have been severely bullied or who have suffered trauma.
Young Minds Parents’ Helpline provides a service for any adult worried about the emotional problems, behaviour or mental health of a child or young person.