Educational Support at Nexus Fostering

How we support education for children in foster care.

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At Nexus Fostering we supply an education support service for all of our foster carers and children.

The Nexus Fostering Head of Education, Andy Plant, supports our carers, children and young people with all matters educational throughout their school life. His role is to give advice and support on:

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Personal Education Plans (PEPs)

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Education, Health and Care Plans (EHCPs)

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Pupil Premium Plus funding

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Post 16 training and further education.

He will liaise with you, social workers, schools, local authorities and clinicians and therapists

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He will attend challenging meetings with you and offer a School Support Programme to some schools.

Feedback from a Secondary School Head of Year

Thank you for your presentation yesterday. It was really impressive and it meant so much for all the staff in the room to know they are appreciated and play a part in our children and young people education. Of course, they could not do this without you and your guidance. Again, a big thank you.

Education workshops are supplied for the carers throughout the year.

These usually last 30-60 minutes, can be face to face or online and cover:

  • The Education Support Service Provided by Nexus Fostering
  • PEPs
  • EHCPs
  • Pupil Premium Plus and Other Funding
  • Approaching the School
  • GCSEs and Other Qualifications
  • Helping at Home
  • The Transition from Primary to Secondary School
  • Virtual Schools
  • Managing Education
  • Choosing the Right School
  • A Productive Education Meeting

Feedback from a Primary School Head Teacher

Thanks very much for coming yesterday - everyone said how useful they found your presentation. We thought the content would be useful for other staff/ children too so would like more staff to receive the presentation if at all possible?

Educational jargon and terms explained

All looked after children have a care plan. A PEP is a statutory requirement to ensure that a record is maintained regarding the child’s educational progress and thus it forms an integral part of the child’s overall care plan. The PEP should detail what needs to happen in order for the looked after child to fulfil their potential. The Local Authority are under a duty to ensure that the PEP fully reflects the educational needs of the child, remains relevant to the child’s age, ability and aptitude, and is implemented effectively.

Schools in England must provide support to children with special educational needs (SEN) as part of their standard offer to children. This is called SEN support. Schools are deemed to have £6000 of national funding within their existing budgets to support children at the SEN Support level.

Where a child requires additional support that goes beyond what a school, college, or nursery can typically deliver from their own budgets or staffing then they may need an Education Health and Care Plan (EHCP) –

An EHC plan is a legally binding document outlining a child or teenager’s special educational, health, and social care needs. The document has to list all of the child’s special educational needs, provision to meet each of the needs and that provision has to be specific, detailed, and quantified. The plan names the school/setting which is to provide the provision and the plan is legally enforceable.

This is for pupils who are currently Looked After or have been previously looked after by the Local Authority for at least 1 day.

Pupils receive either the Pupil Premium or the Pupil Premium Plus, not both.

Pupil Premium Plus is higher to recognise the extra challenges faced by children who are, or have been, looked after.  It is approximately £2,400 in primary and secondary school, between years Reception to year 11.

Like Pupil Premium it aims to help pupils make progress but its focus is improving social and emotional well-being.

For pupils currently in care, the Pupil Premium Plus is managed by the responsible Virtual School Head. The money can go directly to the school or the VS Head can use some of it in other ways which will benefit the child.

The Virtual School acts as a local authority champion to promote the progress and educational attainment of children and young people who are or who have been in care so that they achieve educational outcomes comparable to their peers. Ensuring that they receive a high quality education is the foundation for improving their lives.

The school does not exist in real terms, or as a building. Children do not attend it - they remain the responsibility of the school at which they are enrolled. The Virtual School is simply an organisation which has been created for the effective co-ordination of educational services at a strategic and operational level.

Feedback from a school head teacher following the School Support Programme

I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your help and support in school.  You have been so supportive and informative with the training and guidance towards my staff, this has made a significant impact on those staff who work with the child concerned.
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Andy Plant - Head of Education, Nexus Fostering

Andy has a thirty-year career in education, working in primary, secondary schools and a sixth form as a Teacher, Head Teacher and Consultant. Many of these years were spent working in special schools for looked after children. Watch our interview with him to find out how he and his team support our foster carers to support the children in their care.

An interview with Andy, Head of Education.

Can you tell us a bit about your experience in the education sector, and your current role?

I have a broad range of experience in the education sector which includes thirteen years as a primary school teacher involving the coordination of several subjects such as Maths, PE and IT. I then moved to an area I’d always enjoyed, working with looked after children aged 10-18 who had special educational needs (SEN), becoming the Head Teacher after a couple of years. Following this was another Headship in an independent special school for looked after children and then some consultancy work in primary schools before becoming the Head of a larger independent school prior to joining Nexus. This experience over a twenty-nine-year period was an important learning curve to becoming the Head of Education at Nexus Fostering, where I support the children, carers and staff in all areas of education.

What support might a foster child need to meet their learning needs, and how do you provide this?

According to Government guidance, looked after children are entitled to a range of things throughout their school life and beyond. Part of the role of the Head of Education (HoE) is to ensure that each child receives their entitlements, and they are supported to achieve their educational potential and beyond. This is a long list and includes elements such as a Personal Education Plan (PEP) with its associated actions and funding. Often, the support isn’t given straight to the child as this is done via the teachers, carers and a range of other professionals. The HoE role is to support the carers, school staff and Supervising Social Workers (SSWs) at Nexus Fostering, enabling them to feel informed and confident when addressing a school matter. This is done via the appropriate training and the writing and supplying of education specific documents which can hopefully be easily read and understood, along with daily emails and phone calls. One of the programmes that Nexus Fostering operate is the School Support Programme which I understand is not done by another Independent Fostering Agency (IFA). This is a programme whereby, when a particular child is finding school to be challenging due to their attachment and trauma difficulties, we go to the school and support the staff with their understanding of attachment and trauma, discussing a range of approaches that can be used within the school environment beyond the traditional approach of ‘rewards and sanctions’. So far, the programme has taken place in fifteen schools and received some very good feedback.

How do you support young people in foster care with post-16 training and further education?

Advice and training on apprenticeships, traineeships, further education, universities and a range of other post-16 opportunities is supplied via the carer and staff training programmes along with ‘as and when’ it is required on an individual basis. Subjects such as CV writing and job applications are often discussed as part of the support offered.

Can you explain how you work with foster carers and Nexus Fostering staff in your role?

On average, half of the working week is spent working from home. As well as the writing of training programmes, record keeping and a range of administrative duties, much of this time is spent liaising with carers, SSWs, local authorities and virtual schools to ensure that the children fostered via Nexus Fostering are receiving the best education possible. Advice and guidance in a wide range of situations is provided. Online school meetings are attended when the SSWs or carers feel that this would be beneficial for them and the child concerned. The other half of the week is spent delivering training, delivering the School Support Programme and meeting carers and children face to face when this is required.

Can you explain how you work with schools and local authorities in your role?

The building of positive relationships with others is vital in any working world and this is particularly the case when working with a wide range of professionals, all of whom have the child’s best interests at heart. I have tried to build such relationships with schools and LAs via various forms of communication, the attending of meetings with them and the offering of the School Support Programme when this has been felt to be beneficial. I hope that all of the schools, local authorities and virtual schools are aware that Nexus Fostering is there to work with them for the benefit of the children and carers.

What is the most rewarding part of your job as Nexus Fostering's head of education?

I am a strong believer that learning can take many forms and, although it is wonderful to see the young people doing well in their SATs, GCSEs and other forms of qualification, it is equally rewarding to feel that I have played a small role in such things as improving a child’s confidence in a school situation, helping with an anxiety issue or giving guidance with an EHCP application.

Feedback from a Primary School Head Teacher

Hi Andy, Thank you for visiting today, it was really helpful. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your help and support in school.  You have been so supportive and informative with the training and guidance towards my staff, this has made a significant impact on those staff who work with the child you are involved with.  It is always good to know that I can give you a call and have a chat about things we are having a bit of a struggle with and know that you will give honest, sensitive and constructive input to help us to move forward.  Your advice and support for me personally has been second to none!


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