In April 2019 TACT set up a dedicated Education Service with the aim of supporting all of our children, young people and foster carers to achieve the best possible educational outcomes, while also offering advice and guidance to TACT social workers on matters relating to education. The service has expanded where there is a team of education professionals: Head of Education, Advisory Teachers for each of the three nations and a Post 16 Advisor to offer focused input to our care experienced adults.
During 2021/22 the Education Service has helped to release £938,000 for young people eligible for Pupil Premium funding, that is around 350 of the young people TACT looks after at any one time. This is released through the Education Service offering training, support and advice to carers and Supervising Social Workers so that they can advocate for young people in Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings and request access to this funding. For the high priority cases the Education Service attends around 15 PEP meetings a week between to advocate, challenge and offer guidance to the schools our young people attend, working with the Virtual School to ensure our young people receive their educational entitlement.
A further 5% (17) of young people receiving one to one teaching assistant support in mainstream schools through funding via Education Health Care plans (EHCP’s), releasing a further £130,000.
In addition to this the Education Service has successfully gained 27 EHCP’s via parental request which involves the team spending up to 50 hours writing each application, ensuring that where needed, Educational Psychology (EP) assessments are carried out. We have commissioned 20 EP assessments to date each costing £400 each and further advocated for the young person’s case at panel meetings so that this funding is agree and taking cases to appeal where needed.
The Education Service have secured around £2,295,000 (£85,000 per child) per year by applying and seeing through these cases where the school and Virtual School were not willing to make the application. These EHCPs tend to be for our highest priority young people who have very complex needs and require a place in highly specialist, independent schools often with onsite therapies which are needed in order to meet their educational needs and offer the support needed to keep homelife stable. This additional funding transforms the educational experience and outcomes for our children.
It is also important to recognise that when a young person receives an EHCP, it offers financial assistance each year until the young person is 25 years old or leaves full time education, whichever happens first. So, this funding is something we can expect our young people to receive for the duration of the time they are in our fostering families and beyond.
The service also maintains a zero-tolerance approach to permanent exclusions from school and all of our children have a full-time school place appropriate to their needs and abilities or a full-time alternative education provision while a permanent school place is being secured. This is hugely important not only for the child’s education but also to support the stability of our foster homes.
This service is freely available to all our foster families across TACT to access advice and guidance; this investment in education demonstrates our commitment to supporting our foster families.