Council agrees plan to strengthen education support for all children with a social worker

Children studying in school library (iStock)

All children in Buckinghamshire with a social worker are set to benefit from new funding to support them in their education.

Earlier this week, councillors agreed on the best use of the Department for Education (DfE) funding to enhance the role of Virtual School Heads that was recently announced.  The role of a Virtual School Head is to work at a strategic level within a local authority, promoting the educational achievement of all children in care. This remit has now extended to include children with a current social worker on a child protection or child in need plan and those aged up to 18 who have previously been allocated a social worker. They work closely with local education teams and settings to drive forward improvements to support children and to help them achieve their full potential.

At the Cabinet meeting on Monday, councillors approved proposals for the £127k allocated to Buckinghamshire to be invested in recruiting a new Assistant Head to support the Virtual School Head in their work and an additional part time support role for an existing member of the team. The rest of the funding will be used to provide training for schools, social workers and other professionals.

In Buckinghamshire figures for 2018/19 show that nearly 1,700 children had a social worker. Across the country more than 1.6m children have a social worker, about 1 in every 10 children or three per classroom. Statistics show that a large proportion of these children fall behind their peers at all stages of their education and achieve poor outcomes.

Anita Cranmer, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: “It is no secret that children in care and other children with a social worker often lag far behind their peers when it comes to education and achievement and this is something that has only been made worse by the pandemic. We have a duty to do our best for all these children, to make sure we are doing all we can to help them to thrive and reach their full potential.

“This funding is much welcomed and will allow us to ensure that all our children with a social worker are given the support they need and that the focus is put on working together to make improvements.”