Briefing 228

April 2018

The Designated Teacher for Looked-after and Previously Looked-after Children: Statutory Guidance on their Roles and Responsibilities, February 2018


The Children and Social Work Act 2017 required that a member of staff, the designated teacher, is to have responsibility for promoting the educational achievement of both looked-after and previously looked-after pupils who are no longer looked after in England and Wales because they are the subject of an adoption, special guardianship or child arrangements order, or were adopted from ‘state care’ outside England and Wales.

The designated teacher is answerable to the Head teacher and the Governing body of the school. They should be appropriately qualified, trained and experienced in working with children that have Special Educational Needs (SEN) generally and looked-after and previously looked-after children in particular. The numbers of such children in any particular school may vary greatly and, for social workers seeking to place such children this should be a consideration. The question they need to consider is: does the school and designated teacher have the knowledge and experience to meet the particular needs of the child they are working for? What does OFSTED have to say?

The designated teacher should be a central point of initial contact within the school. This helps to make sure that the school plays its role to the full in making sure arrangements are joined up and minimise any disruption to a child’s learning.
The most effective designated teachers have a leadership role in promoting the educational achievement of every looked-after and previously looked-after child on the school’s roll. This involves, working with Virtual School Heads (VSH) to promote the education of looked-after and previously looked-after children and promoting a whole school culture where the personalised learning needs of every looked-after and previously looked-after child matters and their personal, emotional and academic needs are prioritised.
The key matters that the designated teacher has responsibility for are:

  • They have lead responsibility for the development and implementation of the children’s Personal Education Plan and ensuring all other staff in the school are aware of the plan and are working to it.
  • Ensuring safeguarding issues are quickly and effectively responded to.
  • Ensuring children who are entitled to Premium Pupil Funding are attracting it and that it is being used to support and benefit the looked-after and previously looked-after children as intended and this is reflected in the PEP.
  • Taking the lead in ensuring school staff understand the things that can affect how looked-after and previously looked-after children learn and achieve and how the whole school supports the educational achievement of the children: they should be fostering a ‘whole school’ approach to meeting their needs. This will include matters such as: ensuring procedures do not disadvantage the children and actively support them, there is effective induction for each new child, there are no barriers to participation in school activities and planning for the children’s future is in place.
  • They promote a culture in which looked-after and previously looked-after children are involved in discussing their attainments and progress, are prioritised in terms of one-to-one tuition services, are encouraged to participate in school activities and experiences such as trips and outings.
    They are a source of advice for teachers in such matters as differentiating lessons and appropriate methods of assessment for children whose education may have been disrupted or disadvantaged.
  • They work directly with some pupils and/or their parents/carers to ensure there are good home-school links, ensure all the adults in the child’s life are working together, encouraging high aspirations and enabling parents/carers to support the teaching of key skills such as reading and numeracy.

There may be more than one designated teacher in larger schools and the school should be able to demonstrate their effectiveness in working with disadvantaged pupils generally and looked-after and previously looked-after children specifically.

The guidance gives considerable additional specific advice regarding all the issues outlined above and should be consulted when any of them are required, e.g. PEPs, exclusions, mental health and health more generally, academic progress, pathway plans and pastoral and/or study support.

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