Agenda item

Educational Outcomes for Looked After Children VS Non Looked After Children

To measure whether there is a disparity in educational outcomes between the groups.


To understand if more can be done to support Looked after children.


The Assistant Director – Education (AD-E) presented the report alongside the Head of Service Education Outcomes & Intervention (HoS EOI) and the Virtual School Head Teacher (VSH). The AD-E highlighted how the service reports on this yearly, but the last few years had been difficult due to Covid. He highlighted how up until 2019 the service was making big improvements in the outcomes for Looked After Children.


The questions from the Board were as follows:

·  Cllr S Gethen – What does a virtual school look like?

o  HoS EOI – The school doesn’t directly deliver education to Looked After Children but they support their school staff to make sure the school is delivering the best quality education to that Looked After Child.

·  Kate Goode – Does this service provide for children who have left care i.e they have been adopted?

o  VHS - This report and reporting statistics only focus on Looked After Children but yes the service does provide advice and guidance to those Looked After Children who have left care.

·  Kate Goode – Do we collect data on SEMH aspects as well or just purely academic statistics?

o  HoS EOI – This is something that the child’s Personal Education Plan would pick up. The Virtual School would pick up on SEMH triggers i.e. attendance by the softer reporting is picked up the actual school i.e. is the child attending/accessing SEMH sessions.

·  Cllr B Groom – Do we have the capacity in the service? Are we currently only meeting what we need to do to be compliant and missing some of the softer support that could be offered?

o  VSH – PEP plans are statutory, and we are good at holding the schools to account on them and ensuring we cover some of the softer support that the children can access. Looked After Children are always involved in these conversations to make sure their voice is heard.

o  HoS EOI – We are looking to build more capacity into the service team to cover the increase in caseload that we have seen. But it was a positive that OFSTED did comment on the level of challenge the service provides to schools on the personal education plans and we don’t want to lose that good level of challenge.

·  Cllr A Burrow – I want to commend you for aiming for the national ambition but all I hear is that Solihull has some of the best schools in the country and I wonder if our results are better than that national ambition whether we should use our results as the target?

o  HoS EOI – We do hold the data to be able to use our measure as a target. We are now in 2022 roughly in line with the national outcomes, we don’t stand apart particularly as a borough now. In some measures, in GSCE results, in the past we have sat above and our Looked After Children have also sat above so that is a demonstration that we are doing well for these children. But you are right with your first point our ambition is the national target or all children Solihull target.

·  Cllr A Burrow – Has the service got enough money to be able to do what it needs to do?

o  HoS EOI – We do well with the money we have.

·  Cllr A Mackenzie – How many teachers are there in the school and what is their caseload?

o  HoS EOI – There are 5 teachers and one Head Teacher. Caseloads can vary between 80-120 children. At the moment the Head Teacher has been forced to take a caseload of Children due to the increase in demand, but it is our priority to remove that caseload.

·  Cllr A Mackenzie – Do the children meet their teacher or is the role an office bound one?

o  VSH – Yes some of our teachers meet the children they are responsible for as they will visit the school and observe the child in the class. As well as this when it is requested by the school the Teacher will attend a personal education plan meeting.

o  AD-E – We are currently looking at our delivery model compared to other councils to see if there is a different way we can support our Looked After Children.

·  Cllr A Rebeiro – Do we know that after Looked After Children have left school that they have entered employment?

o  VSH – The school has the remit until Year 13 so we would look after the Child should they stay in education until that time.

o  AD-E – The employment and skills team would capture the outcome should they not continue in education.

·  Cllr Y Clements – Are looked after Children automatically given the pupil premium? Are all Looked After Children in good/outstanding schools?

o  HoS EOI – Yes, they qualify for the pupil premium. When the child becomes newly looked after then we will try to secure them a place in a good or outstanding school, however, if they are not in a good or outstanding school then we will also have the conversation as to whether it is in the best interest of the child to be moved. For example, if there are no issues and they are achieving the results they should be then we may decide to keep a constant in their life we would not move them and then have a conversation with the school about how we can further close the gap in their attainment.  

·  Cllr Y Clements – If they aren’t moved then is their academic progress continually monitored?

o  HoS EOI – Yes, we manage and if things aren’t going right then we would move the child.

·  Cllr A Mackenzie – Are any Looked After Children home educated?

o  VSH – Some come to us home educated but we then seek to fund them a school place. There are 0 looked after children who are currently home educated.

·  Cllr A Burrow – I am concerned about the resource in the team – can we ask that a benchmark exercise is done of other local authorities and the caseloads they have?

o  Cllr D Gibbin – We can look at adding this into the recommendations.

·  Cllr S Gethen – What do you feel would be an adequate caseload?

o  HoS EOI – My priority is to remove the caseload from the VSH which is currently 90.

o  VSH – I feel a caseload of about 65 is manageable which would mean we would need another 3 teachers.

·  Cllr S Gethen – Who do the virtual schoolteachers support in the child school?

o  HoS EOI – Each school has a Designated Looked After Children Teacher and this is who we link in with. They would work with the schools’ SENCO if there was an identified need.

·  Cllr S Gethen – For looked after children having a constant is really important, do they get this from your service?

o  HoS EOI – Yes, they do.

·  Cllr D Gibbin – When will the non-negotiables be enforced again?

o  VSH – We are already bringing them back in and work is well underway to getting back to them being the norm again. There remains some work to be done on embedding some foundations in some cases post-covid.

·  Cllr A Mackenzie – Is retention of staff an issue in this service?

o  HoS EOI – No, this is one area where we haven’t got an issue retaining staff and it has been a relatively stable team.



The board unanimously noted the contents of the report and asked that the following mitigating action be took to narrow the gap between children who are looked after and their non-looked after peers:

·  That a cost analysis be done of Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council virtual school investment compared with both the authority with the best Looked After Children outcomes and using the authorities family group of councils.

Supporting documents: