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Update on education support offered to looked-after children

Bridgend County Borough Council’s Corporate Parenting Committee has received an update on the education support offered to looked-after children.

A report was presented to the committee, which includes Cabinet members, at a meeting on Thursday 8 April. As of 19 March 2021, there were 271 statutory school age pupils being looked after by the local authority.

The Education Engagement Team provides a single point of contact for all agencies including schools, Children’s Social Care and other services for information, advice, training and guidance for vulnerable learners. It also offers training and support to schools in preparing personal education plans.

Schools offer a range of support to looked-after children to promote attendance, including school-based counselling and ‘Thrive’ training to promote educational attainment. Mental health and trauma training can also be offered to staff to consider how behaviour can present itself within school for children who have entered the care system.

During the pandemic, the pupil development grant has been used to offer additional tuition to 33 looked-after children in the county borough.

Training has also been delivered to schools and partners on the impact of trauma and how this can affect a child’s ability to engage in learning.

Estyn highlighted the work of schools in Bridgend County Borough in its recent review of education for looked-after children.

In particular, Brynteg School and Penybont Primary School were identified as implementing good practice models for those learners.

The local authority has also been central to the development of work experience and apprenticeship opportunities for looked-after children to help them secure employment.

 The report said multi-agency working has been key in ensuring all children were able to access education during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On-site provision was offered to looked-after children, with priority given to those in foster placements that were at risk of breakdown. Since January 2021, an average of 50 of these learners were accessing on-site provision (primary school age through to Year 8) each week. Digital equipment was also supplied where required.

Extra support has been offered to looked-after children throughout the pandemic to ensure they could continue their education with as little interruption as possible.

Children become looked after often as a last resort and only where there are significant concerns related to their safety. The impact of this in terms of a child’s development can be significant and in particular on their ability to engage in education.

The council is working hard to make sure every looked-after child in its care has an effective and high-quality personal education plan to help them thrive. Looking forward, improvements will be made to the planning process to ensure they are tailored to the child and are reviewed consistently. Ongoing support will also be offered to schools around the pupil development grants with the aim of sharing good practice across schools in Bridgend County Borough.

Lindsay Harvey, Bridgend County Borough Council’s Director of Education and Family Support

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