The Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) for Adopted / Previously Looked After Children is still confusing many schools, parents/carers and public bodies. The number of pupils it applies to is relatively small, which is perhaps why – in the bigger picture of the pressures schools are under – they can remain somewhat ‘invisible’.
The crack they fall into lies somewhere between Looked After Children for whom PP+ is managed by Virtual School Heads (VSH), and ‘economically disadvantaged’ pupils for whom Pupil Premium is managed by schools. The VSH passes a certain amount of PP+ (depending on need) for each Looked After Child to his/her school, and so expenditure is closely linked to a specific pupil’s Personal Education Plan (PEP). On the other hand, PP+ for Previously Looked after Children is paid as a lump sum directly to schools alongside the payment of other types of pupil premium (the bulk of which is to alleviate the impact of ‘economic disadvantage’).
Adopters/carers are strongly encouraged to declare their child’s ‘status’ to schools so that PP+ can be claimed. However, in many cases adopters/carers find themselves re-buffed by schools when asking about how the funds could be used best to support their child, with schools stating that parents/carers have no part to play in this decision.
Some clarity on how the PP+ for Adopted / Previously Looked After pupils should be used and what role parents/carers play in this, finally came about when the responsibilities of the Designated Teacher were extended to this group of pupils from September 2018. However, not all schools are aware of the detail of the guidance and many adopters / carers continue to struggle to get schools to discuss the PP+ with them, let alone direct the funds towards the specific needs of the adopted / previously looked after pupils in the school. This is likely in part because schools do not want to risk having to have a discussion with each and every parent/carer who’s child receives some type of pupil premium, and/or because schools wish to pool the funds and allocate it as they see fit. The letter below explains how this approach is not helpful nor in accordance with Statutory Guidance.
I have posted this template letter to schools for adopters/carers here, because so many have asked for it. Please feel free to use, adjust as needed, and share widely. Also do send comments and suggestions to improve, and I will update as relevant.
Dear [Name Head / Senco / Governors,.. ]
Following the recently updated Statutory Guidance for Designated Teachers, I am inviting you to discuss with me the Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) that the school receives for [name child]. Please could you let me know:
- Who is the Designated Teacher (DT) for Looked After and Previously Looked After pupils in the school?
- How is the school implementing section 44 and section 75 of the Statutory Guidance which states that the DT must encourage parents and guardians’ involvement and participation in discussions on their child’s support needs and the use of the PP+? Will there be individual meetings and/or (assuming there are other pupils attracting PP+) will there be a group meeting or consultation with the relevant parents/carers of adopted / previously looked after children?
- How is the school ensuring that PP+ is allocated for the benefit of the “cohort of (…) previously looked-after children and according to children’s needs” as required by section 43 of the Statutory Guidance? How will this be monitored?
As I am sure you are aware, PP+ for Looked After Children is allocated via the Virtual School Head (VSH). However, once a child is Adopted, under Special Guardianship or otherwise ‘Previously Looked After’, schools must “work closely with their parents and guardians as they will understand their child’s needs better than anyone else” (section 75). The DT may still seek the advice of the VSH “about meeting the needs of individual children” as long as this is done “with the agreement of the child’s parents or guardians” (section 71).
The full amount of the PP+ for Adopted / Previously Looked After pupils is paid directly to the school, and this is currently £2,300 per pupil per year. This is £980 more (the ‘plus’ element) than the Pupil Premium for ‘economically disadvantaged’ primary school pupils, and £1,365 more than the sum received by other Pupil Premium secondary school pupils. This extra funding “reflects the significant additional barriers faced by looked-after and previously looked-after children” (section 40).
Whilst I am aware the PP+ is not a ‘personal budget’, it still should be managed for the benefit of the specific ‘cohort’ of adopted / previously looked after pupils (section 43) . Moreover, section 40 stresses the need for a focus on the specific needs of this (small) group of pupils, noting that “despite some overlap with the needs of economically disadvantaged children, looked-after and previously looked-after children’s needs can be very different”. As such, although paid directly to schools alongside other types of Pupil Premiums that together form the Pupil Premium Grant (PPG), expenditure of the PP+ for Adopted / Previously Looked After Children should in it’s focus and allocation be differentiated from the general PPG expenditure within schools.
A clear focus on the specific needs of adopted/ Previously Looked After pupils, does not necessarily mean that (some of) the PP+ cannot be ‘pooled’ together with other funds (such as the rest of the PPG), to pay for an intervention that benefits a broader range of pupils. It just means that schools must ensure that when deciding on Pupil Premium expenditure, this should: a) be targeted, i.e. show that the specific ‘cohort’ of pupils that attract PP+ is (also) benefiting from the provision; b) be focused, i.e. ensure this cohort’s specific needs are addressed, and c) be ‘plus’, i.e. reflect the higher rate that is allocated to this specific group of pupils.
[You can insert here examples of what the school currently spends PPG on and which interventions your child does/does not benefit from and/or to what extent the benefit reflects the fact your child receives a higher rate / ‘plus’ element.]
I would like to arrange a meeting to discuss my child’s specific needs and how these can be supported by PP+, as required by the Statutory Guidance. I also would like to invite you to discuss with myself alongside other relevant parents/carers at the school, how we can ensure that the Pupil Premium Plus funds are focused on the specific needs of the ‘cohort’ of adopted / Previously Looked After Children. For example, there may be training opportunities (e.g. on attachment, trauma or loss, which would also benefit a much wider range of pupils); getting advice on / developing integrated support for social and emotional / mental health needs; or purchasing children’s books (for the library) that include foster or adoptive families,.. etc. [insert anything specific you think your child might benefit from / would be good for the cohort attracting this funding].
I look forward to hearing from you.
Link to the Guidance: