Partnership working is crucial to success for Looked After Children as they may have a wide range of needs that affect their education, such as mental health difficulties, crime, child sexual exploitation and drug use. The following are some of the multi-agency boards and panels in Camden where the education of Looked After Children is a central concern.
Corporate Parenting Board
This has oversight in ensuring that Camden Council is fulfilling all its duties towards Looked After Children corporately and in partnership with other statutory agencies.
This multi-agency group is co-ordinated by the Virtual School to review plans for those Looked After Children at risk of poor school attendance.
Not in Education Employment and Training (NEET) Panel
The main purpose of the NEET Specialist Scrutiny Panel is to:
- consider the educational and learning needs of individual post-16 young people who are currently NEET
- support social care workers by recommending suitable educational provision and signposting to funding options
- share information regarding the current post-16 education provision and recommend the development of further local provision as needed
- discuss post-16 needs that have a direct relevance to their education eg. housing, income, mental health, substance misuse, teenage parents etc
- liaise with provision in other LAs to ensure availability to Camden post 16 LAC who reside OOB
- identify and involve relevant partners in supporting Care Leavers’ education eg. Connexions, YOS, The Pathways, schools, colleges etc
- identify common factors that may be contributing to the lack of or insufficient interest from LAC and target these needs with resources
- identify the impact and effectiveness of the current training schemes for young people e.g. Borough Apprenticeship Scheme etc
Projects and Out of School Learning and Activities
The Virtual School offers a range of activities for different groups of children in care many in partnership with other organisations.
The Virtual School works in partnership with Letterbox Club to promote enjoyment and pleasure in reading and improve reading outcomes. The Letterbox Club, run by the Book Trust, aims to provide enjoyable educational support for Looked After Children aged 5-13. Children and young people in care in Camden are enrolled onto the programme which entitles them to books, maths activities, stationery, a library joining card or information about how to join a library, and other free materials once every month for six months, from May to October.
Dolly Parton's Imagination Library
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting program that mails free, high-quality books to children from birth until they begin school, no matter their family’s income. The Virtual School have signed up to the programme to encourage a love of reading for our children in the early years.
The Chrysalis Project
This project is delivered by Highgate and Future Foundations, and supported by Virtual Heads from Haringey, Enfield, Camden, Islington, Brent and Barnet. Its purpose is to set up a multi-year programme which helps Looked After Children in Years 6-12.
Aims of the Chrysalis Accelerator Project are:
- to narrow the gap between the achievements of children in care and those of their peers by accelerating their rate of progress
- to enhance confidence and self-belief
- to increase awareness, knowledge and understanding of the benefits of attending higher and further education
- the development of academic knowledge and a passion for learning and achieving.
The programme runs simultaneously for four groups: year 6-7, year 8-9, year 10-11 and year 12/care leavers, with participants progressing to the next year group during the delivery. Participants are given a coach from recent care leavers and Highgate Sixth Form students who will help them to set personal goals and provide an aspirational network of support. The programme also offers training to the carers, empowering them to support the participants to raise their aspirations at home.
The programme includes:
- a Saturday series with small group tutorials and workshops led by Highgate teachers and inspiring mentors
- excursions to inspirational venues, including a university visit
- engaging enrichment days led by Future Foundations facilitators to develop the skills needed for the future world of work
Our vision is of a future where all Camden Looked After Children who would like it, have the mentoring support they need to access vital opportunities and build friendships in order to get more out of childhood, explore their potential, see what life has to offer and lead a fulfilling adult life. To this end, we have this year commissioned the services of Friendship Works to provide mentoring over two years for those Looked After Children who we believe could benefit from the service.