Ofsted Report School Atendance

Pupils missing out on education- Ofsted Report School Atendance

Low aspirations, little access, limited achievement

This report examines the experiences of children and young people who are not in full-time education at school. Inspectors visited 15 local authorities and 37 schools and services, undertook 97 case studies of children and young people, and interviewed leaders in a further 41 secondary schools. Inspectors found poor quality and insufficient provision for many of these young people as well as incomplete information about it at a local level. The report draws together these findings and also illustrates some of the effective practice seen.

Age group: 5 to 16 Published: November 2013   Reference no: 130048

Foreword from Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector

Many thousands of children and young people in England do not attend full-time education. This survey sets out stark findings about the failure of some local authorities to meet their statutory obligation to ensure that children and young people in their area are receiving a suitable education. Too often, children and young people who receive only a part-time education, or who have none at all, can become invisible to the local authority. This can be a safeguarding as well as an educational matter.1

If no-one in authority knows what education these children and young people receive each week, or whether they even attend, they not only miss out on education but can be vulnerable to abuse. Everyone must take greater responsibility for knowing where they are.

Four of the 15 local authorities that inspectors visited were unable to tell inspectors how much educational provision the children and young people in their area were receiving or attending, even when given more opportunity to find the data. They did not have robust systems for tracking individuals for whom they are responsible and their aspiration for these children was low. This is unacceptable.

As a result of this survey’s findings, Her Majesty’s Inspectors will ask for detailed and specific data on school-age children, for whom the authority is responsible but who are not in full-time education, as part of the new inspections of local authority children’s social care. These inspections will report robustly on whether local authorities are discharging their responsibilities well. I want us to be certain that local authorities are making proper educational provision for all children and young people as well as actively safeguarding them.

In this survey, I also asked inspectors to focus on successful practice. This report sets out what well-informed, well-led authorities can achieve and the impact their actions can have on individual children. As one parent said to inspectors, ‘They took a broken child and a family in a mess, and brought her back to us.’

What the report illustrates, once again, is the critical importance of high-quality leadership. Authorities and providers who were supporting their young people successfully were those who exercised their responsibility for leadership well – both strategically and at a personal and individual level. This was not achieved by managerial box-ticking but by a moral purposefulness in everything they did. The individuals in these authorities ensured that no young person in their area slipped out of sight; they were also conscientious, and determined, in communicating with others, recognising that such responsibility does not recognise local authority boundaries.

With committed and strategic leadership such as this, it is entirely possible to ensure that children and young people do not miss out on education at vital points in their lives. The expectations that local authorities have for these young people should match those held by the best parents.


As I have stated before, young people who grow up to become adults who lack qualifications face a difficult path, especially when trying to find employment. We owe it to all of them to ensure they are given every chance to stay safe and to succeed.

Sir Michael Wilshaw

Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector

Who is this report about?

In every local authority area there are children and young people who do not, or cannot, attend full-time school education in the usual way.2 Many of these children are not on a school roll and are considered to be the direct responsibility of the local authority. Ofsted has reported previously on the vulnerability of children who are not being educated. Our 2010 report, Children missing from education, warned that those who do not attend school or similar provision are at risk not only of social and educational failure but also, importantly, of physical, emotional and psychological harm.

That is why it is important that the current report, while highlighting successful practice in some of the authorities visited, also draws attention to the fact that other local authorities are failing to educate children and young people and may be failing in their statutory duty to take reasonable steps to protect them.

The main groups of children and young people who are the focus of this report are those who:

  • have been permanently excluded

  • have particular social and behavioural difficulties and have personalised learning plans: this means that, by arrangement, they do not attend their usual school full time

  • have mental health needs and access Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), either as an in-patient or through services provided in the community

  • have medical needs other than mental health needs

  • rarely attend school and have personalised learning plans as part of attempts to reintegrate them into full-time education

  • are pregnant or are young mothers of compulsory school age3

  • have complex needs and no suitable school place is available.

In addition, small numbers of children and young people do not currently attend school in the usual way because they:

  • are returning from custody and a school place has not been found for them

  • are new to the country and are awaiting a school place

  • are from a Gypsy, Roma or Traveller background and alternative provision has been made

  • have moved from another area and a school place has not been secured; this may include children who are looked after.

Education for all these children and young people is offered in many different ways. For example, lessons may be provided in a school or centre; through home tuition; through virtual learning platforms that can be accessed from any site with internet access; or through vocational alternative provision. For those with health needs who are in hospital, lessons may be provided in a classroom in the hospital or by individual staff at the bedside4.

Executive summary

Local authorities have a statutory duty to arrange suitable full-time education for children of compulsory school age at school, or otherwise for children and young people who do not attend school in the usual way.5,6 Despite this, inspectors found that, in too many cases, children and young people did not have access to full-time provision or as near to full time as their medical needs allowed.

Inspectors’ discussions indicated that around 1,400 pupils across 15 local authorities were not participating in full-time education. If this pattern were replicated across all local authorities in England, it would mean more than 10,000 children were missing full-time education. In around half the cases that inspectors followed up, the children and young people were receiving only between five and eight hours educational provision each week.

Some of the local authorities did not know how much provision their children and young people were receiving. Only five of the 15 local authorities visited for the survey regularly gathered the information and analysed it centrally. A further six were able to gather the information from their different heads of services when they were asked for it by inspectors, but the remaining four authorities were not able to provide reliable data.

Local authorities that did not know how many children of compulsory school age were accessing part-time education were less able to comment on the quality and appropriateness of provision because they did not know for whom the provision was intended and whether it met their needs. As a starting point, all local authorities should know what the education provision is for these children and young people, and how good it is.

Up until now, Ofsted has not inspected what arrangements local authorities make for the education of these children and young people. It is a key recommendation of this report that this should change.

All schools, including academies, free schools and independent schools, have a responsibility to share information with the local authority about any child or young person who is out of school for 15 days or more. However, the survey showed that schools and professionals from other services were not sharing information well enough with one another and some children were being missed completely or having their learning seriously disrupted.

Low expectations made the situation even worse. Children and young people were being offered less education than they were entitled to and, at times, provision was not challenging enough. In some of the areas visited, this was starkly apparent in the provision being made for young mothers or young women who were pregnant. For example, one young woman had stopped studying for examinations where she had been on track to do very well and, instead, was attending part-time provision for developing parenting skills. Although this provision included functional literacy and numeracy skills, she would not gain qualifications at the level she was capable of achieving.

Inspectors also came across cases during the inspection where low expectations led to an acceptance that part-time education was all that a child could manage. One case concerned a Year 11 pupil who had emotional and behavioural difficulties. The pupil had moved between three local areas and the local authorities had not provided full-time education since the pupil was in Year 3, a situation that is clearly unacceptable.

In too many of the local areas visited, provision was not flexible enough so that some children and young people had only a few hours of education each week. For example, those with the most significant mental health needs frequently had effective, full-time education in hospital or healthcare settings, but such provision was less frequent for those using community mental health services. Ofsted does not routinely inspect some of the education provision visited for this survey, because it is run as a local authority service or a health service rather than as a school.

Schools have a responsibility to monitor and evaluate the achievement of pupils on their role. Many of the schools in this survey had good or improving systems for monitoring outcomes for pupils who were involved in alternative provision for vocational skills. However, where health services or home tuition were involved, monitoring and challenge by the schools were less robust.

In Ofsted’s 2010 report, Children missing from education, it was noted that ‘officers in all the authorities surveyed gave examples of schools which had not followed the agreed procedures for exclusions’ and highlighted that:

The vulnerability of such pupils was significantly increased because they were out of school unofficially and preventative agencies were not aware of their potentially increased exposure to drugs, alcohol misuse, crime, pregnancy or mental health problems.’

Inspectors also noted further examples of unlawful exclusions during this survey.

The best practice found during this survey shows that local authorities can get it right: they ensure suitable, good-quality, full-time provision for all children and young people who are medically fit for it. This requires strong commitment from senior officials and politicians, robust systems, good partnership working and high expectations. It also requires clear accountability at local authority level. This report also shows, however, that this is not happening enough. In failing to fulfil their statutory duties, some local authorities have left too many children and young people vulnerable to educational failure and possible harm.

Key findings

  • Too many children and young people were not receiving full-time educational provision, as near to full time as their health needs allow. During the survey inspectors found 1,400 children and young people in the 15 authorities visited whose education was part time only.

  • Some of the local authorities visited did not know how many children and young people in their area were not receiving full-time education or for how long this had been going on. They could not show that they were meeting their statutory duty to make such provision.

  • Children and young people who did not attend school in the usual way had a better chance of receiving full-time, good-quality education in local authorities where a senior officer was held accountable for this statutory duty.

  • Schools, health services, youth offending services and local authorities did not always share information about the quality and amount of education being offered to children and young people who were not accessing school in the usual way, such as those in secure children’s homes, or whether they were attending. Evidence gathered from parents and carers, parent partnership services and local authority officers suggested that some of the schools visited for this survey were using unlawful forms of exclusion rather than providing suitable support for children and young people who had behavioural difficulties.7 This disregard for procedures and legal requirements puts the child at risk of not being safe.

  • The entitlement to full-time education of children and young people who had mental health difficulties was more likely to be fulfilled when they had access to in-patient mental health services rather than provision in the community.

  • In a number of cases, low expectations of what children and young people could achieve often meant that schools, education, health or youth offending services provided too little education. This often continued over a considerable period and jeopardised children and young people’s chances of achieving well.

  • Children and young people who remained on the roll of their original school while attending a pupil referral unit or hospital school, or when they were serving a custodial sentence, were less likely to have their education interrupted when circumstances changed.

  • Parents and carers were more confident about the quality and success of particular provision when they knew that one single person was taking responsibility for their child. Too often, however, parents and carers were:

  • unaware of how to raise concerns or get support

  • anxious about raising concerns about educational provision

  • unwilling to increase from a part-time to a full-time programme when part-time provision was working well.

  • Local authorities and schools that responded quickly to any signs of disengagement, or children and young people’s anxieties, were more successful in helping them to achieve at levels comparable with those of their peers and return to full-time education.


Each local authority should:

  • establish a central record of all children not accessing full-time education in the usual way, including those who are accessing alternative provision full time away from mainstream school, regardless of where they are on roll; and maintain good information about the achievement and safety of any child or young person not accessing education in the usual way.

  • identify clear lines of accountability for the quality and amount of provision, as well as the educational and social outcomes, for all children and young people of compulsory school age who do not access education in the usual way; taking note of the survey’s finding that this was most effective when a named person at a senior level was held to account for this statutory duty.

  • share information across local authority boundaries in a timely and appropriate way to minimise interruption to a child or young person’s educational provision.

  • ensure that every child is on the roll of a school, regardless of circumstances, unless parents have elected to educate their child at home.

Schools, including academies and free schools, should:

  • with immediate effect, stop unlawful exclusions and provide suitable support for children and young people with behavioural difficulties.

  • establish clear accountability for the achievement, safety and personal development of all children and young people who are on the school roll but not accessing school in the usual way, and for the quality and amount of provision made for them.

  • inform the local authority of any part-time education arrangements, regardless of the type of school 8.

  • keep children and young people on the school roll during periods of illness or custody (or for as long as it is relevant), in line with Government policy and guidance.

  • respond quickly to any early signs of children and young people’s raised anxiety or dips in their progress, attendance or engagement in learning.

  • give governors sufficient information about children and young people who are not accessing school in the usual way, so that governors can challenge the amount of provision being made and evaluate its effectiveness.

Health services, youth offending services, police, education services and other partners should:

  • agree on joint approaches to sharing information, to be used case by case, so that education provision and safeguarding for any child or young person who does not access education in the usual way is effective.

Ofsted should:

  • as part of its Integrated Looked After Children and Safeguarding inspections of local authorities, ask for a report on children for whom the local authority is responsible who are of school age and who are not in receipt of full-time school education at the time of the inspection. This report should include for each child:

  • the child’s unique ID, date of birth, Unique Pupil Number (UPN)

  • type of educational provision being received, including home tuition

  • number of hours provision each week (in particular whether the child is receiving more or fewer than 25 hours)

  • if the child has been excluded, the type of exclusion

  • the date when the alternative provision began

This information will inform the selection of cases for further examination, including in relation to any safeguarding concerns, and may affect the overall inspection judgements.

  • regard any failure by local authorities to comply with their statutory duty as a matter likely to affect the overall judgement on safeguarding.

  • continue to ensure that all school inspections evaluate the effectiveness of arrangements for children and young people who are not able to access education in the usual way.

  • ensure that meetings between local authority officers, Ofsted’s Regional Directors and Ofsted’s Senior HMI include a focus on the amount and quality of education, as well as the progress, attainment and safeguarding of children and young people who are not accessing education in the usual way.

  • review the findings from the local authority inspections at regular intervals and use these to inform future actions.

  • ensure that enhanced training for inspectors of special schools and pupil referral units includes updated guidance for evaluating the quality of provision for children and young people who are not accessing full-time education, using the good practice found during this survey.

Good practice and case studies

  1. Local authorities have a statutory duty to arrange full-time education whenever a child or young person is well enough, but educating children and young people who cannot or do not attend school in the usual way can be complex and challenging. Determined action is needed from a wide range of people to rise to this challenge. The following factors emerged during the survey as being important in ensuring that children and young people not attending school have the best possible chances of success and of staying safe.

  • Authorities who were aware of, and fulfilled, their statutory duty made it a high-level strategic priority to ensure that groups who might be most at risk received sufficient education.9

  • Local authorities that embraced the increasing autonomy of schools, including academies, and worked closely with them and other partners to realise their duty to arrange good-quality full-time education for all children and young people of compulsory school age.

  • Provision was sufficiently flexible to respond to the changing needs of children and young people who were not attending school in the usual way. Such provision was full time and of good quality. It was based on the recognition that the more education a child or young person received the more they could achieve.

  • Strong reporting systems within schools, and between all types of schools and the local authority, ensured robust monitoring of children and young people who were at risk of not receiving enough good-quality education.

  • As well as from education, there was shared commitment and responsibility from other services, including health services, youth offending services and partners from the voluntary sector to ensure that children and young people had access to education that was as near to full time as possible.

  • Schools were keenly aware of their responsibility to track and evaluate the provision for and progress of pupils who were not accessing school in the usual way.10 They provided timely and relevant information for, and kept in touch with, other providers and services that were educating children and young people who were on their school’s roll.

  1. The following sections give further detail and examples of good practice.

Roles, responsibilities and accountability

Good practice

  • A senior leader within the local authority is responsible and held to account for ensuring that the authority knows about all children and young people who are unable to access school in the usual way; and that action is taken to ensure that they have the best possible provision for as much time as possible.

  • Accurate data about any child or young person not accessing full-time education are gathered from all schools and services in the local area, regardless of their arrangements for governance, and analysed fully.

  • A strategic leader in the local authority holds others to account for how they use delegated funding, for example for places in pupil referral units or for home tuition.

  • Senior officers and elected members provide strong challenge and ensure that provision is flexible rather than simply expecting children and young people to fit into what is already provided.

  • A responsible person has an overview of case histories, the nature of and reasons for the allocated provision, the timeline of the programmes and their effectiveness in terms of the academic achievement and personal development of the children and young people.

  • Robust systems for working with other agencies, including CAMHS, the police, the youth offending service and local voluntary agencies, ensure that all parties share responsibility for providing all children and young people in the locality with the support they need to access full-time education – or as near to full time as their health allows.

  • Responsibility for children and young people in a local area is shared and communicated effectively and taken on by all schools and education services, either through multi-agency locality arrangements or fair access panels linked to behaviour partnerships.11

  • Multi-professional teams (including groups of schools) take responsibility for monitoring and acting on the outcomes for children and young people who do not have access to school in the usual way.

  • The professionals involved in the local area’s multi-professional groups have high aspirations for all children and young people and are strongly committed to ensuring that educational provision contributes significantly to helping children and young people move forward successfully, by aiding treatment and recovery or discouraging re-offending.

  • Home tuition is rigorously monitored and evaluated; it is part of a continuum of provision and not an end in itself.

Common barriers to success

  • The local authority does not monitor and evaluate educational provision for, and take-up by, children and young people who do not have access to school in the usual way.

  • The responsible person is not sufficiently senior to make access to good-quality full-time provision for all children and young people a priority.

  • Lines of accountability within a local authority’s senior leadership team or across partnerships are unclear or non-existent.

  • The local authority does not challenge schools sufficiently.

  • Close liaison and information-sharing between schools and other services are lacking.

Good practice: information sharing and monitoring

An urban local authority has a single data system that uses information from education welfare services, behaviour support services and mental health services. This enables the authority to identify young people accessing provision other than at school who are not on the roll of a school, as well as those who access alternative provision through referrals from individual schools. The data show where there are concerns about attendance and where action has been taken. The personalised learning plans that are agreed are subject to regular review, with the explicit aim of increasing the provision to full time when the children and young people are medically fit to do so.

The multi-agency teams in each locality are responsible for reviewing and evaluating the effectiveness of the provision and the progress made by children and young people identified through this system. (Annex B of this report provides an example of a tracking sheet.) This helps decisions to be made about the allocation of provision and support by different professionals. The locality teams are accountable to a senior member of the local authority.

Schools in the local area continue to receive school improvement visits from local authority staff. One of their priorities during each visit is to identify any children and young people who have missed school for 15 days, consecutively or otherwise, and the follow-up action that has been taken.

What makes this work?

  • Clear lines of accountability.

  • A simple and inclusive central database.

  • Involvement of, and commitment from, all schools in the area.

  • Regular review of the effectiveness of actions within locality teams.

  • Action taken when there is inconsistent involvement and quality of work from different locality teams.What still needs to improve?

  • The involvement of the primary schools.


Good practice: a strong corporate lead

Following Section 3 of the Children, Schools and Families Act (2010) coming into force in September 2011, that made clear the statutory duty to arrange full-time education, the elected members of a rural local authority set clear targets for the quality of education provision and outcomes for children and young people who were not accessing school in the usual way. The authority established clear lines of responsibility that reflect the full range of its vulnerable children and young people.

The elected members hold the Director of Children’s Services to account for progress towards the targets. An assistant director is responsible for ensuring that action is taken to meet the targets and others are also accountable, right through the authority, from the person who takes the strategic lead to the professionals at an operational level.

The operational leads have distinct but complementary roles for:

  • provision for sick children and young people

  • e-learning

  • provision for those excluded or at risk of exclusion; this includes the quality assurance of alternative education providers and the pupil referral units.

Performance management takes account of information on the academic progress, attainment and personal development of the children and young people involved. This ensures that service development focuses on need and effectiveness.

This strong corporate lead means that a clear strategic priority is given to these groups of vulnerable children and young people. For example, the Local Safeguarding Children Board has recently run a multi-agency professional development programme on ‘hidden children’; this includes those who are out of school or educated at home because they are ill or have some special educational needs.12

The local authority is part of the DfE’s school exclusion pilot for secondary schools which is about schools keeping responsibility for pupils that they exclude.13 The pilot has helped to keep children and young people in schools and means that responsibility for the quality and amount of provision remains with their school.

The area behaviour partnerships are responsible for allocating places on the flexible learning programmes and in the pupil referral unit. The schools have to agree their priorities for places – essentially, an effective system of self-regulation. This new, shared role as commissioners means that the places are used more effectively. When a new academy chose not to become involved, the Director of Children’s Services took action. Following discussions that were held about its responsibility for children and young people in the local area, the academy became active in the partnership and has reduced its use of exclusions.

The local authority regularly provides each partnership with data about attendance, exclusions (fixed-term and permanent), movement between providers, and children and young people who are accessing alternative places. This enables all schools, including the academies, to challenge each other and the local authority and to work together to find and share solutions.

What makes this work?

  • Strong commitment, articulated at the highest strategic levels, to provide effective provision for vulnerable groups of children and young people.

  • Clear lines of accountability within the local authority and between services, schools and other providers.

  • Shared responsibility of the secondary schools (including academies) as commissioners for provision for any children and young people who are excluded.

  • Action by the local authority to ensure that local schools and academies help it to fulfil its statutory duties.

What still needs to improve?

  • Involvement of primary schools.

Working together with other services

Good practice

  • Systems are set up with clearly identified roles and robust lines of accountability so that effectiveness does not depend solely on the attitudes of the individuals involved.

  • Detailed information is shared quickly between schools and other provision.

  • All partners have high expectations and are committed to the role of education as part of a child’s or young person’s programme; for example to help them:

  • with treatment or recovery

  • return to school to learn with their friends

  • be part of the local community

  • stop offending

  • reach their academic potential and be successfully independent in the future.

  • Well-structured, multi-agency locality teams are held to account for ensuring that all children and young people receive enough good-quality education so that they make at least good progress, both academically and socially.

  • Clear joint planning works to increase children and young people’s access to education and tries to avoid provision such as home tuition or one-to-one tuition where individuals are isolated for too long.

  • Dual rolls are used to maintain contact with a pupil’s original school.

Common barriers

  • The local authority does not identify a responsible person to liaise with other services, for example, health or secure provision, particularly when the provision is out of the authority’s area.

  • The local authority is not involved in making sure that a child or young person who has a statement of special educational needs has his or her full entitlement to specialist education and other services while also accessing health services.

  • When a child or young person accesses health provision, secure or alternative education provision, the original school does not commit itself to continuing contact, so information is not shared when it needs to be.

  • Schools do not work together or with other providers well enough to re-integrate children and young people successfully, so gaps in provision emerge.

  • If no school place is available when a young person is discharged from health or secure provision, there is a gap in education provision.

  • The local authority does not organise links between home tuition and hospital schools well when children and young people are receiving regular hospital treatment. As a result, the treatment disrupts their education or there is a gap when they are discharged.

Good practice

Parents’ comments:

They took a broken child and a family in a mess and brought her back to us…they were right, she needed a programme of reintegration.’

A child attending a hospital school had lost many of her previous skills. Her writing was merely a scribble when she started at the hospital school. Initially, she hated all school activity and especially the classroom setting.

The plan started with one-to-one tuition but it also clearly identified how this tuition would be developed to involve her in small group work, using creative activities at first, and then move towards reintegrating her into her mainstream school. Through drama, art, psychiatric services and a well-organised reintegration programme, the girl’s interest and engagement developed steadily until she became confident enough to relearn lost skills.

Over a five-month period she regained skills in literacy and numeracy. She moved from being uncommunicative and withdrawn to participating in group activities. She began to respond to questions and formed friendships with her peers and adults.

Communication between the hospital school and the child’s mainstream school was excellent. The latter was keen and willing to work closely to help reintegration following her long absence. Through careful planning and a commitment to reintegration from the start, the hospital school supported the child and the parents throughout the programme. The hospital school also provided a teacher to work with the child in the mainstream setting.

Her parents were confident to listen to advice and follow it because the professionals involved also listened to them and adapted the provision accordingly. The programme was developed using their knowledge of their child as well as the professionals’ knowledge of successful programmes for those with similar needs. The whole of the pupil’s family felt involved in her education from day one and the close links with her mainstream school meant that it could contribute and be kept informed about her progress.

Close collaboration between the hospital school, the family and the mainstream school helped this child to regain many of her skills and reintegrate successfully into school.

What makes this work?

  • Parents feel fully involved and feel they are listened to.

  • A key person keeps parents informed.

  • A key person keeps the original school and local authority involved in the reintegration programmes.

  • Regular and frequent formal reviews involve all parties.

  • Regular and frequent meetings for the young person and key staff allow for discussion of any concerns.

  • Every child and young person has an individual programme.


Good practice case study

Three secure training centres managed by the same provider have designated education welfare officers. Their role is to find out relevant information about a young person’s previous education placement, behaviour and achievement. They use this information to personalise education programmes for young people at the secure training centre that will help their transition back to school.

The education welfare officers also actively seek to ensure that a young person is kept on the roll of their previous school, wherever this is possible and appropriate. They establish links with the school from the outset of the young person’s custodial sentence so that contact can be sustained. Sharing information about work, learning and progress brings better opportunities for a smooth transition back to the community and school at the end of the sentence.

If a young person is returning to a different school, the education welfare officers work closely with local authorities to secure a new placement, so that preparation for transition can be started in a timely way before the end of their sentence.

What makes this work?

  • A key person with an education brief keeps links open with schools.

  • A key person with an education brief liaises with the local authority.

  • Tenacity ensures that a school place or other appropriate full-time education provision is available when the young person is released.


Successful reintegration

Good practice

  • Young people are supported to maintain links with school friends.

  • A long-term view of transition is taken at the start of part-time provision to make sure that services and providers do not work in isolation.

  • A child or young person’s original school continues its interest and works with others to provide an appropriate and supportive placement on return.

  • Staff from the part-time or alternative provision and the school to which a child is returning devise transition plans and involve the child and family fully.

  • Transition between each phase of education, where a change in school is inevitable, is carefully planned at an early stage.

  • Children and young people are re-engaged with their school well in advance of their discharge from health provision or their release from custody.

  • Reintegration programmes include meaningful learning that is related to previous learning, age and attainment, such as continuing relevant courses with focused vocational elements.

  • When a child or young person is returning from custody, key professionals from the child or young person’s original local authority are closely involved in all planning meetings at the secure setting.

  • Health services and other relevant providers give good information and training so that the schools take on the responsibility and give the necessary support to help children and young people settle back into school.

Common barriers

  • Transition between the alternative placement and school is not well planned and arrangements are ineffective, often because of the distances involved.

  • Although there are good intentions, little contact is sustained with friends or staff.

Good practice: keeping in touch

Children and young people attending health provision as in-patients are encouraged and actively supported to maintain their friendships at their original schools and to keep in touch with staff. As part of a planned programme, and in consultation with other services such as CAMHS, the child, parents and carers and the child’s current and original schools make a commitment to maintaining contact and agree how this is to be done. Access to technology has helped considerably but the potential disadvantages and risks are also recognised by the school.

Having a plan for communication and sharing information about opportunities for contact leads to more regular communication that benefits the child or young person, as well as providing opportunities to prepare friends and the staff for any differences they may find. Any potential detrimental effects are minimised by acknowledging the need of the child to keep in touch, while also ensuring that particular needs are addressed. For example, careful planning for mutually convenient times for video conferencing