To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what recent steps her Department has taken to help ensure that children in the care system receive the full benefit of the pupil premium funding to which they are entitled, in the context of the educational attainment gap for experienced by young people in care.
The department is committed to ensuring that care experienced children and young people are supported to succeed in education and achieve positive outcomes. Every local authority in England must appoint a Virtual School Head, who has a statutory duty to promote the educational attainment of all children in their care. Looked-after children have priority in school admission and attract Pupil Premium Plus funding of £2,410 per child, up to age 16. This is managed by the Virtual School Head, who works with the child’s education setting to deliver objectives in the child’s individual Personal Education Plan. Since September 2018 Virtual School Heads also have a duty to promote the educational achievement of pupils who are no longer looked after.
Our statutory guidance sets out Virtual School Heads’ duties, whilst Ofsted’s inspection framework for local authorities instructs inspectors to look at the effectiveness and impact of the virtual school on outcomes for children in care, including the use of Pupil Premium Plus.
In October 2021 we launched a £3 million pilot in 30 local authorities to extend Pupil Premium Plus funding to looked-after children and care leavers in post-16 education. This initially ran until March 2022 and has been extended with an additional £5 million of funding now supporting a total of 58 local authorities in 2022/23.