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The Education Standard


  1. The education standard is that children make measurable progress towards achieving their educational potential and are helped to do so;
  2. In particular, the standard in paragraph (1) requires the registered person to ensure:
    1. That staff:
      1. Help each child to achieve the child’s education and training targets, as recorded in the child's relevant plans;
      2. Support each child's learning and development, including helping the child to develop independent study skills and, where appropriate, helping the child to complete independent study;
      3. Understand the barriers to learning that each child may face and take appropriate action to help the child to overcome any such barriers;
      4. Help each child to understand the importance and value of education, learning, training and employment;
      5. Promote opportunities for each child to learn informally;
      6. Maintain regular contact with each child's education and training provider, including engaging with the provider and the placing authority to support the child's education and training and to maximise the child's achievement;
      7. Raise any need for further assessment or specialist provision in relation to a child with the child's education or training provider and the child's placing authority;
      8. Help a child who is excluded from school, or who is of compulsory school age but not attending school, to access educational and training support throughout the period of exclusion or non-attendance and to return to school as soon as possible;
      9. Help each child who is above compulsory school age to participate in further education, training or employment and to prepare for future care, education or employment;
      10. Help each child to attend education or training in accordance with the expectations in the child’s relevant plans; and
    2. That each child has access to appropriate equipment, facilities and resources to support the child's learning.

'Relevant Plans'

Relevant plans are defined in the interpretation section of the Regulations (regulation 2) as: any placement plan; any care plan; any statement of special educational needs; any education, health and care plan ("EHC plan")[1]; and where the child is a youth justice child any detention placement plan, or any other plan prepared by that child’s placing authority in relation to the remand or sentencing of that child.

'Relevant' thus has a meaning here that is distinct from the normal meaning of that word. If a child has any of the above plans, they will fall within the meaning of 'relevant plans', but a child may not have all of the plans defined as 'relevant' (for example, there will be children living in children's homes who do not have an EHC plan). Similarly, a child may have a plan that the Regulations define as 'relevant', but may have no impact on the issue the provider is considering at that point in time, and providers should not feel obliged to make a plan apply where it does not. The essential point is that a child's plans should form the basis of their care, and providers should use their judgement as to what is relevant in each case, taking the plans listed in the definition in the Regulations as a starting point rather than a complete list or a tick-box exercise.

'Measureable Progress'

Progress in education can be measured and evidenced in various ways, including but not limited to: success in academic, vocational and other awards and qualifications; other formal attainment tests that are part of national assessment arrangements; and teachers’ ongoing assessments. Measurements of progress should include qualitative information such as how well the child is being prepared for their next stage of education, training or employment, and quantitative data where available. Other metrics can also be taken into account such as rewards and recognition of achievements, improvements in attendance and, where appropriate, reduction in behavioural incidents including exclusion. The child's personal circumstances, individual needs and educational history are relevant in considering what might constitute progress; but should not limit aspirations for them.

[1] In some cases, the child’s special education needs statement (SEN) will be a relevant plan, until such time as it is reviewed (the latest date being 2018) and replaced with an EHC plan.

For some children who have experienced severe trauma, have mental health difficulties or have been excluded or out of education for significant periods, it may be necessary to address and work through their past experiences and present needs before they can positively participate in learning activities and formal education. Staff in children's homes will play a key role in supporting these children in line with their personal education plan or EHC plan and recommendations from education and health professionals.

A high proportion of children in children's homes have special educational needs (SEN) (a research study found 38% to have a statement of special educational needs) and staff need to understand the specialist support children may need to be able to engage positively and achieve in education. [7] Staff must be aware of whether a child has an EHC plan [8] and the information in it. An EHC plan details the education, health and social care support that is to be provided to a child or young person who has special educational needs or a disability. For further information, see GOV.UK, SEND Code of Practice: 0 to 25 years.

[7] Living in Children's Residential Homes, 2012: Berridge, D., Biehal, N. and Henry, L., Research Report, DFE-RR201.
[8] In some cases the child’s special education needs statement will be the relevant plan, until such time as it is reviewed (the latest date being 2018) and replaced with an EHC plan.

Local authorities have a duty under section 22(3A) of the Children Act 1989 to promote the educational achievement of their looked-after children, which includes, as set out in guidance, seeking a school or other education setting that is best suited to the child’s needs. The local authorities’ responsibilities as corporate parent apply wherever the child is placed.

Promoting the Education of Looked-After Children describes how local authorities are expected to comply with their duties to promote the education of looked-after children:

When commissioning a placement in a children's home the placing authority must establish how the home will support the child's educational needs. In accordance with regulation 5 (engaging with the wider system to ensure children's needs are met), homes must have proactive relationships with appropriate schools and educational support services. The home should have processes that enable staff to share their experience and understanding of the child’s educational needs and progress with other services.

For children who are not looked-after, parents/carers (or others with parental responsibility) are responsible for selecting the child's education placement.

Staff need to know, for every child in their care, what level of decision making has been delegated to them in relation to the child’s education. These delegations should be recorded in the child’s placement plan and it is the joint responsibility of the registered person and the placing authority to agree this at the time of placement. The Education Act 1996 defines 'parent' as including a person who has care of the child in question. Therefore, for a looked-after child, their residential care worker may be deemed a parent for the purposes of education law. This means that they should be treated like a parent with respect to information provided by a school about the child's progress; should be invited to meetings about the child; and should be able to give consent to decisions regarding school activities and trips unless there are good reasons not to delegate these decisions to them. For further information see the Statutory guidance on entrusting decision making to carers of looked-after children

Staff should have an understanding of how schools function, including the processes for admission to schools, the role of designated teachers for looked-after children and the role of the Virtual School Head. If a looked-after child from a different local authority area is placed in the home, the Virtual School Head of that local authority remains responsible for promoting the child's educational achievement.

Staff need to have the knowledge and skills to understand each child's education and training targets and their next steps for learning. If a child's progress is not in line  with their agreed targets or next steps, staff should seek expert advice from education professionals, such as the Virtual School Head, SENCO, learning mentor or teacher. Staff must challenge the child’s education or training provider if the child does not receive sufficient support to progress as outlined in their relevant plans.

Children's home staff should act as effective advocates for or on behalf of a child who may be experiencing difficulties with education or training matters including, but not limited to, attainment, admissions, attendance or behaviour, as a good parent would do.

The registered person must ensure the necessary support is given to children to enable them to access their education or training. Support may include, for example, putting in place practical arrangements such as transporting the child to school, support by staff to learn how to use public transport confidently and safely, or the use of technology to connect with online learning.

Children should be in full-time education whilst they are of compulsory school age, unless their personal education plan contained within the care plan or other relevant plan states otherwise. The home must aim to support full time attendance at school unless the child’s relevant plan indicates this is not in their best interests.

Where children placed in a home are not participating in education because they have been excluded or are not on a school roll for some other reason, the registered person and staff must work closely with the placing authority so that the child is supported and enabled to resume full-time education as soon as possible. In the interim, the child should be supported to sustain or regain their confidence in education and be engaged in suitable structured activities. If no education place is identified by the placing authority, the registered person must challenge them to meet the child’s needs under regulation 5 (engaging with the wider system to ensure children’s needs are met).

The Government has raised the participation in education age so that all young people from summer 2015 will be required to continue in education or training until their 18th birthday. Young people can choose how to participate. This can be through full time education, an apprenticeship or traineeship, or by combining full-time employment with part-time education or training. Whilst the duty is on the young person themselves, it is important that children's homes staff encourage the young person to continue their education or training and support them to develop the skills necessary to succeed in the option they choose. They can also direct them to the financial support that is available through the 16-19 bursary fund and to their local authority young people's services who can advise about the options available. For further information on the 16-19 Bursary Fund, see: Overview of 16 to 19 Bursary Fund.

Local authorities have a number of responsibilities in relation to education and training for 16-19 year olds, including ensuring that sufficient provision is available to meet their needs and supporting them to participate. They are also responsible for identifying young people covered by the duty to participate who are not in education or training. Children's homes should work with the local authority to make sure the young people they are responsible for are getting the support they need to participate. For further information, see Participation of young people: education, employment and training.

The ethos of the home should support each child to learn, emphasising the value of independent study and reading for enjoyment. The home must make available suitable facilities, equipment and resources for learning and ensure that the home's routines do not form barriers to children wishing to use the homes resources to study. Staff must support children with home study by encouraging them to learn independent study skills and helping them to practice those skills.

Children should have access to a computer and the internet to support their education and learning, unless there are specific safeguarding reasons why this would be inappropriate. In such cases, the home should consider whether and how it can support the child to access a computer and the internet safely.

Just as regulation 8(2)(a)(vi) seeks to ensure partnership between the education provider and the home, where these are offered together the registered person should ensure that there is a mutually supportive and reinforcing approach between the two aspects of provision that is centred around the child. The two aspects of provision should be able to challenge each other where necessary. The home should have processes in place to ensure this is the case.

Regulations 8(2)(a)(vi) and (viii) to (x) do not apply to children on short breaks. The remainder of the education standard does apply, but should be applied in a manner that is appropriate to the type of services being provided in short break settings.

The registered person should ensure that they agree with the placing authority (usually the child's parents/carers), and if appropriate, the child's school, an approach to meeting any relevant education targets while the child is in the short break setting. The registered person and staff are not expected to go beyond this remit, given that education remains principally the responsibility of the child's placing authority. However, short breaks can present an opportunity for the child to enjoy and achieve new things, and this may be a key part of their informal learning while away from their permanent educational setting.

Last Updated: February 9, 2022