School support for care-experienced children in England

Charlotte JenkinsBeacon Community Services, Beacon Education Services, Beacon Family Services

We know that school can be especially challenging for a number of children. One group of children who commonly need additional support are pupils who have been in care or have previously been in care. Attachment & Trauma Trainer/Consultant and adoptive parent Emma Spillane shares some important information about the Pupil Premium Plus funding available to schools to facilitate a wide range of educational support for looked-after and previously looked-after children.

A significant amount of care-experienced children can face challenges at school due to the trauma they experienced at critical points in their development. These are some of the things that these children can typically (though not exclusively) find especially tricky:

  • Managing transitions
  • Changes in routine
  • Navigating behaviour systems
  • Coping with unstructured times of the day
  • Focusing in class
  • Developing and sustaining relationships with both adults and peers

In recognition of the fact that looked-after and previously looked-after children are likely to have additional needs due to gaps in learning and life experiences impacting their ability to learn, Pupil Premium Plus funding was introduced several years ago to help improve the attainment of this group of children and close the attainment gap between them and their peers.

For 2022-23 Pupil Premium Plus funding stands at £2,410 per child per year. While the funds are not ring-fenced to an individual child, the money must be managed to benefit the cohort it is intended.

It’s also important to note that:

  • Adoptive parents and special guardians need to ensure they declare their child’s status to the school (and provide supporting evidence) to ensure the school is able to claim this funding.

At present, children who were adopted from care outside of England or Wales are not eligible to attract Pupil Premium Plus funding (though they are included in guidance around duties for Virtual Schools and Designated Teachers). This may be subject to change as things are constantly under review, so it’s worth checking in on the Department for Education’s (DfE) conditions of grant guidance.

Dedicated roles within education

Each Local Authority has a Virtual School team led by a Virtual School Head who has responsibility for promoting the educational achievement of Looked After and Previously Looked After Children and is a source of support for both schools and families (the type and level of support available may vary depending on the care status of a child and I’d encourage you to check out your own Local Authority’s Virtual School Team website for more information); and each school should have an appointed Designated Teacher for Looked After and Previously Looked After Children who are a first point of contact for all things Pupil Premium Plus and support within the setting.

Working in partnership

It’s important that parents/carers feel able to have their say when it comes to their child’s support. DfE guidance recommends that whether the funding is managed by the Virtual School or the school setting, each should seek the input of the school’s Designated Teacher and carers when deciding on how to use Pupil Premium Plus funding to support a child or young person.

FREE guide to PP+ available now…

With partnership working in mind, I’ve produced a short, accessible FREE guide for adoptive parents, foster carers and special guardians and schools staff to inform and support discussions between parent/carers and schools when putting together a plan for Pupil Premium Plus spend.

It covers:

  • Who is eligible for PP+ funding
  • Common challenges faced by looked-after and previously looked-after children at school
  • A little bit about how funding is allocated and managed (this differs depending on the child’s care status)
  • Some ideas for Pupil Premium Plus spend

Access your free guide:


About the Author

Emma Spillane delivers attachment and trauma training and consultancy to schools and works with adoptive, foster and special guardianship parent/carers looking to secure the right education support for their children.


Beacon Education Services are currently offering a funded programme of support to schools who are supporting an adopted child.  You can read more about it here or contact or phone 0121 270 0592