Monitoring the progress of looked after children in schools

In its role as corporate parent, Bradford Council has to monitor the educational achievement and progress of all looked after children (LAC) and young people.

Readiness to start school is an overarching Council priority and we are committed to:

  • establishing arrangements with schools and settings for sharing all information on the targets set for LAC and the progress they make 
  • developing mechanisms to track the attainment and progress of LAC, to ensure they reach their full potential, in a way that is accessible to professionals from the range of services involved 
  • evaluating the impact of school strategies on narrowing the achievement gap between LAC and non-LAC in core subjects 
  • in partnership with other agencies, improving attendance and reducing fixed term exclusions 
  • providing training across Children’s Services for professionals supporting LAC, including the voluntary sector, carers and adopters

We are doing a number of things to support this commitment and improve support given to looked after children across the district.

The Council follows national guidance in employing a Virtual School Headteacher (VSH). The Virtual School (VS) is being expanded from September 2015 to increase capacity in order to react to LAC’s changing needs, support the Personal Education Planning process and maximise the impact of Pupil Premium Plus (PPP) funding.

As part of the school’s expansion, a management committee is being appointed to complement the challenge and support provided by the Council to schools around the performance of LAC.

Assessing the impact of Pupil Premium Plus funding will be a key area of development by the expanded virtual school team from September 2015.

The Virtual School Headteacher is working closely with the Head of the Bradford Achievement Service and Data Officer to ensure that LAC data is aligned with local authority data systems, all LAC are flagged on the system and LAC are routinely included as a vulnerable group in the annual local authority data pack.

An Attendance Strategy Monitoring Group meets every six weeks to establish where attendance is an issue for LAC and action plans are put in place to improve attendance.

The impact

The Ofsted inspection of services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after and care leavers, in March 2014, stated that looked after children do well at school, have good attendance and are supported to engage with education at all ages.

Bradford Schools Online is being used by all schools to enter and monitor attainment and progress for all pupils and the Virtual School Headteacher uses this data to track progress of LAC and determine appropriate intervention.

Key Stage 1 results increased in 2013/14 by 5% in reading, remained the same in writing and increased by 15% in mathematics compared with 2012/13.

In comparison to 2012/13, KS2 English results reduced by 3% in writing and by 2% in reading, while the results increased in grammar, punctuation and spelling by 3% and by 10% in mathematics.

The number of LAC who achieved the expected grade in reading, writing and mathematics increased by 8%, compared to 2012/13.

The percentage of LAC who obtained five GCSE grades A* to C including English and Maths has improved, but the percentage who have obtained 5 GCSE grades A* to C in five or more subjects has fallen compared to 2012/2013.

Routine and effective monitoring of pupils’ attendance in school quickly identifies those at risk of not attending. Individual action plans are rapidly put in place to ensure that young people do not miss out on their schooling. As a result, overall LAC absence and persistent absence rates are significantly lower than the regional and national averages.

PEPs – the main source of gathering and recording information about LAC – are now completed using the Integrated Children’s System and schools can access them via Bradford Schools Online. Schools are required to identify how the Pupil Premium is being used to improve achievement and reduce barriers to progress.