Sections in this guide (click title to view)

1. Why should I go to school?

While it may not seem so important now, getting a good education at school will help you in the future to go university, have a good career or start your own business.

Do you hear that all the time? Well – that's because it's true!

We know it can sometimes feel like a chore – but you know what – school can be great fun! School is a great place to spend time with your friends, to learn new things, to get involved in sports, art and drama.

You can find out more about the world and things that interest you. Sometimes it can be annoying to be told what to do by teachers but that is their job and they have to make sure that you are learning so you have a great future!

Do you have any ideas about what you might like to do when you grow up and leave school, college or university? You could do anything you want if you set your mind to it... really, you could!!

Did you know that there are over 40 looked after children in Lambeth who are at university at the moment training to be doctors, social workers, accountants, architects, business people and other exciting professions!

That could be you too if you work hard now at school and college. And remember – working hard at school and college means you can still have fun with your friends – just that you have to do some studying too!

2. Personal education plans (PEP)

What is a personal education plan?

All children and young people looked after have a personal education plan (PEP) – this is what the law says has to happen.

This is a plan that talks about your education to make sure that you are getting all of the support you need at school or college. It is also a chance for you to record all of the important information and achievements you have made.

Your personal education plan is part of your care plan. Although it might seem like more paper work, it is very important, as it is your opportunity to say what:

  • subjects are going well for you
  • you want to get out of your time there
  • subjects/aspects you might need help with
  • plans you have for your life after education – so that you can be guided into making the most of your options.

Giving your views about your education

Your social worker will meet with you, your school's designated teacher and your foster carer or key worker and sometimes a teacher from the virtual school to agree this.

It is important for you to have your say about your education and what things you like and don't like about school. You can write these down on the PEP form and you can also have your say at the meeting.

Do you want to join a football team, learn a musical instrument, extra help with homework, start dance classes? Your PEP review meeting is one of your chances to let your social worker, carer or key worker and teachers know what you want to do.

3. The virtual school

The virtual school is here to make sure that you're getting everything that you should be from your education.

We are based at International House in Brixton and usually work with your social worker to plan out the best plan for your education, particularly if you move to another borough. Sometimes we are lucky enough to actually come out to your PEP meetings with your social worker to meet you in person which is great.

You recently told us that you were not too happy with the format of your part of the PEP form so we have created some new ones. Originally, there were two PEP forms, one for primary and one for secondary, but these did not give you the opportunity to really tell us what was important to you.

To improve on this, four new ones have been created, one to cover each of the four key stages. This allows you to be a bit more specific at each stage of your school life and makes sure that nothing important gets forgotten.

We hope that you like using the new forms – they have already been approved by a group of young people but it would be good to have any feedback from you about them as well.

4. Getting support in school

Who can I talk to at school?

If you're finding things at school hard or are having trouble concentrating or getting things done on time, you might need some extra help.

No matter what the situation, if you are finding it hard to deal with a problem help is always at hand.

Your form tutor and class teachers can help you to find solutions to your situation. However there are others that can help too.

Designated teacher for looked after children
All schools should have them, sometimes in primary school the head teacher does this job. The designated teacher is a person in school whose job it is to make sure all children who are looked after in that school are getting the support they need. They talk to class teachers about your work and how you're getting on in class.

Special educational needs coordindator (SENCO)
A SENCO will support you with your difficulties. They are a specially trained teacher who works with children with special needs. Some children will have an individual educational plan at school which makes sure young people have the support they need at school.

Learning mentor
Somebody who is there to help young people who are having difficulties with school work or with life in school.

Teaching assistant
A person, who supports the class teacher in the classroom, sometimes can be a good person to talk to.

School counsellor
A person trained to help young people deal with issues that concern them.

What help can I get outside of school

Outside of school, you can get help from your:

  • social worker
  • foster carer or key worker
  • personal advisor (if you're over 16)
  • tutor (if you have one)
  • local library – many have homework clubs
  • personal education plan.

5. Moving schools

There are two main times when you will move school.

You make a small move from nursery to primary school (this can sometimes be within the same school) and a bigger one when you move from primary to secondary school.

The move from primary to secondary will feel a lot more different because the size and shape of the school that you are moving to will be bigger, you will be around more people, and you will move around to different classrooms to take different lessons.

The other times when you might have to move school is if you move where you are living and it is too far to get to school.

If you do move where you are living your social worker will always try to make sure that you can stay at the same school. Sometimes you won't be able to stay at your school.

If this happens your social worker should talk with you and explain what will happen next. This will give you a chance to share your views on the type of school that you would like to go to and what you think about this. In some cases you will get to visit the school before you start there, so you can get a feel for what it is like.