Children in care and care experienced are among the most vulnerable children in society and it is of paramount importance that a school place is found that is in the best interests of the child as quickly as possible. Admission authorities must give highest priority to Looked After Children and Previously Looked After Children.
The admission requirements for Looked After Children and Previously Looked After Children are set out in the School Admissions Code. This Code applies to maintained schools and academies, including free schools.
It is the responsibility of the VSH to ensure that:
- Admission authorities understand that Fair Access Protocols do not apply to Looked After Children and that they are 'excepted pupils' in relation to infant class size regulations
- The local authority, as a corporate parent, does not tolerate drift and delay where children the authority looks after are without an education placement that is appropriate to their assessed needs. This includes using their powers of direction in a timely way rather than delay issuing a direction as a result of protracted negotiation
The choice of school requires skilled working between relevant people. It should be based on a discussion between the child's social worker, their carers and, if appropriate, birth parents. The Virtual School Head should be consulted to avoid choosing a school that is unlikely to meet the child's needs. The carer’s level of input in to the choice of school for the child should be addressed explicitly in the child’s permanence plan, which is part of their wider care plan.
If social workers are unsure of how school admissions work in relation to looked after children they should discuss this with their Virtual School Head or someone else who can provide the correct information e.g. the local authority’s school admissions officer. If the appropriate placement is at a mainstream academy or maintained school, the corporate parent must apply through the same process as other parents. They are asked to note that the national closing dates for applications are: 31 October for secondary schools, and 15 January for primary schools.
A 'maintained school' means community school, foundation school, voluntary aided school, voluntary controlled school, community special school, foundation special school or maintained nursery school.
Please refer to the NYCC School Admissions page for further information.
Useful resources and further guidance
- School Admissions Code (GOV.UK 2014, This is currently being updated by consultation)
- North Yorkshire County Council School Admissions information (NYCC)
- School Admissions Process (Child Law Advice)