The Government today launched a consultation on plans to place a dedicated school leader in every school to help vulnerable children achieve more and ensure they attend lessons.
The proposals will introduce changes to Designated Safeguarding Leads in schools so that they have a greater focus on improving the academic achievement of children on the edge of care.
The Designated Safeguarding Lead is currently responsible for coordinating the safeguarding of children, making sure staff across a school understand signs of child abuse and neglect, as well as referring concerns to children’s social care when appropriate.
Today’s proposals are aimed at helping children that experience challenges outside of school, which may contribute to poor attendance, poor behaviour and disengagement in lessons.
The Designated Safeguarding Lead will be required to share information about how children’s circumstances are impacting on their education. They will also support school staff to find effective ways of teaching these children and maintaining a culture of high aspiration for them.
The plans come in response to recommendations from the Children in Need review, and are aimed at helping the 1.6 million children who have needed help and protection from a social worker at some point in the last six years.
‘We know that on average, three children in every classroom need a social worker. We also know that far too many of those children fall behind, which is why I am determined to be ambitious for these children and ensure they are seen, safe and able to succeed,’ said children and families minister Vicky Ford.
‘Teachers and social workers are some of the most dedicated professionals in society, delivering for children up and down the country. But I do not want any child to slip through the cracks, which is why we are consulting on having a dedicated senior leader in schools to make sure schools know who their vulnerable children are, set high aspirations for them and put in place the right support so they can achieve.’
Dr Sam Royston, director of policy and research at The Children’s Society, said: ‘Children who are on the edge of the care system can struggle at school as much as children in care, and it is fantastic to see the government recognise the importance of dedicated extra support to help them succeed academically.
‘It’s vital that this support focusses not only on their grades, but also on their well-being and personal development. This will require additional investment in the pupil premium so schools have resources to provide the right help.
‘Support for vulnerable children mustn’t stop the school gates and it’s crucial that the underlying issues affecting their lives are addressed as well.’