Working with looked after children

1. Looked after children and children in care

‘Looked after children’ (or LAC) as defined by the Children Act 1989, are either:

  • in the care of a local authority, or
  • provided with accommodation for more than 24 hours by a local authority.

We use the term ‘children in care’ to include all children being looked after by a local authority. This follows the publication of Care matters: time for change – Publications – GOV.UK.

Designated teachers

Every maintained school in East Sussex has a teacher who is responsible for supporting ‘looked after children’.

They also provide a clear point of contact for teachers and other children’s services workers.

National advice

Children in care advice and policy on the Department for Education website.

2. The Virtual School for Children in Care

The Virtual School helps children and young people in care do as well as possible at school. It provides support for students:

  • from pre-school and reception up to age 19 (or 25 for those in full time education),
  • wherever they are educated.

The Virtual School has a statutory duty. It provides educational information, advice and guidance about children:

  • adopted from care,
  • on special guardianship orders (SGO), or
  • on child arrangement orders (CAO).

It advises parents, carers, schools and other professionals.

Our responsibility is for East Sussex looked after children and care leavers. But we also offer support and advice to schools from other local authorities.

Virtual Headteacher

The Virtual Headteacher, Mandy Lewis, is responsible for all the children and young people in care. She:

  • monitors their progress,
  • champions their educational needs and
  • provides or commissions additional support.

Virtual School for Children in Care, Hailsham Community College, Battle Road, Hailsham, BN27 1DT

Governing body

The Virtual School has a governing body and the chairperson is Sally Carnie.

3. Personal Education Plan (PEP)

A PEP is designed to raise levels of achievement for looked after children in schools, by

  • assessing a pupil’s needs and
  • offering targeted support.

It enables us to regularly celebrate a young person’s success in a wide range of areas.

There is a PEP review at least three times a year. The school will be asked whether the young person is on track to reach their minimum outcome target.

The PEP review meeting is to support the young person, listen to their views and their carers’ views. This means that any support provided – from the school, the Virtual School, or from other agencies – is tailored to the young person’s needs and aspirations.

For guidance see: