From September 2021, Virtual Schools have become strategic leaders for the cohort of children who are, or have ever been, assessed as needing a social worker at any time due to safeguarding and/or welfare reasons, which includes all those subject to a Child in Need plan or a Child Protection Plan. This includes children aged from 0 to 18 in all education settings. This cohort of children is known as ‘Children with a social worker’. We will be championing the educational attendance, attainment and progress of children with a social worker.
This means that we will help to:
- Make visible the disadvantages that children with a social worker can experience, enhancing partnerships between education settings and local authorities to help all agencies hold high aspirations for these children.
- Promote practice that supports children’s engagement in education, recognising that attending an education setting can be an important factor in helping to keep children safe from harm.
- Level up children’s outcomes and narrow the attainment gap so every child can reach their potential.
Please refer to DfE Promoting the education of children with a social worker. Virtual School Head role extension for more information
Why is this cohort important?
This cohort have been identified as a group of children who face significant barriers to education as a result of experiences of adversity and trauma, most commonly abuse and neglect. They can therefore have similar adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) to those children currently in care and previously looked after children.
- 1.6 million children needed a social worker between 2012 and 2018, equivalent to 1 in 10 children or 3 children in every classroom.
- These children are present in 98% of state schools.
- On average, children with a social worker do worse than their peers at every stage of their education.
- Children with a social worker are around 3 times more likely to be persistently absent from school and between 2 to 4 times more likely to be permanently excluded from school than their peers. This group are also over 10 times more likely to attend state-funded alternative provision settings than all other pupils.