Parents and guardians of previously looked-after children

Northamptonshire's Virtual School is able to give educational information and advice to parents and guardians of previously-looked after children attending schools and settings based in Northamptonshire.

A previously looked-after child is a child who was in care to an English or Welsh local authority at the point at which they were adopted, made subject to a special guardianship order (SGO), or a child arrangements order. Children who were adopted from state care elsewhere in the world are also previously looked-after children, but do not qualify for the Pupil Premium Plus.

We give information and advice for most ages, from the term after the child turns two until the end of statutory education (which is currently the last Friday in June when the child has turned sixteen, or will do by the end of the summer break).

Previously looked-after children sometimes have additional educational needs compared to other children and we are here to offer information and advice. Our FAQ section should answer many parents' most common queries, but please contact us if you require any more specific advice.

Phone: 01604 365912



A high proportion of adopted children experienced abuse and neglect before entering care. Two main additional educational needs that sometimes follow are:

  • attachment and trauma issues
  • difficulties with learning following impaired brain development

It is important to understand these two areas, particularly attachment.

Northamptonshire County Council's adoption support team provides attachment training to parents and contact details can be found on our support for adoptive parents page.

If your child is falling behind with their learning, they might have a learning difficulty and so you should speak with your school's Special Educational Needs Coordinator (Senco).

Some people believe there is a stigma attached to special needs, but this shouldn't be the case at all. Around 15% of pupils are identified as having a learning difficulty, with the main broad areas being:

  • cognition and learning
  • communication and interaction
  • social, emotional and mental health
  • physical and / or sensory

To repeat, if you have concerns about your child's progress in any of these areas, your first port of call is the school's Senco. Further advice for parents can be found at:

Where a mainstream state school has a place, your child should be able to attend. Where there are more applications than places available, previously-looked after children (who were looked-after in England or Wales) are given the highest priority for admission.

You should be asked for evidence that your child is previously looked-after. If you do not have this evidence, you should contact the Local Authority where your child was in care. For those who were looked-after by Northamptonshire County Council, our Post Adoption and SGO Support Team can provide you with a letter confirming the child was looked after. Their contact details are:  

Northamptonshire LA's Admissions department can be contacted for more detailed advice:

Contact school admissions

As parents or guardians of a previously looked-after child, you will have priority in choosing the mainstream school of your choice. As long as you meet the application deadlines and other administrative requirements, your child should be able to attend the mainstream school you choose.

Ofsted reports and exam results can be important when selecting a school, but given the potential for attachment related issues to either emerge or be amplified at adolescence, you need to consider how supportive, inclusive, and nurturing the school will be if difficulties arise.

You should visit the school and speak to key staff yourself in order to make your own mind up. It is also important that you don't rely too heavily on a school's reputation within the community. A school's reputation (either good or bad) is often based on stories from many years ago. Even if these stories are true (again, either good or bad!), the school may well be very different today.

The Virtual School is not in a position to say whether or not a school is good or not because we do not have the evidence base upon which to give an informed opinion.

Each school should have a designated teacher for previously looked-after children. Some questions you might want to ask are suggested by PAC-UK, an adoption support agency:

For any post-LAC (i.e. adopted in England or Wales, subject to an SGO/child arrangements order/residence order) child from reception to year 11, the school will receive Post-LAC funding from central Government. Those adopted outside of England and Wales are not eligible.

In order for the school to receive this money, you will have had to inform the school that your child is previously looked-after and supplied satisfactory evidence. The school will then record this information on the January school census and receive the funding in the following financial year.

This can sound complicated and some schools say they cannot support the child because they haven't yet received the funding. However, the money will arrive to the school and the lagged funding should not be used as a reason to deny a child support. We can advise schools about lagged funding too if needed.

It is worth checking with your school that they have recorded the child as previously looked-after on the census, however, as they will not receive the money otherwise.

For the financial year 2019 to 2020, the Post-LAC pupil premium is £2,300 for each child.

The money is not a personal budget for individual children, nor is it ring fenced. The school should spend the money how it sees fit for the benefit of the Post-LAC cohort. The Northamptonshire Virtual School advise schools that it is best practice to involve parents in expenditure decisions given the additional needs of previously looked-after children.

The Education Endowment Foundation is a charity that provides a user-friendly toolkit showing what interventions tend to work in promoting learning and their approximate cost:

The Local Authority has an Educational Inclusion and Partnership Team (EIPT), that offers support for schools. Parents and professionals can contact them:

  • Your school's Senco is a good contact because social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) is one of the four main areas of special educational need.
  • If your child is primary school aged, the Local Authority's Educational Inclusion and Partnership team offers intervention and / or advice to parents as well. Select the Social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) panel link on the following page, which also has a contact link:
  • Service Six have a number of different services and projects across Northamptonshire, Leicestershire and Milton Keynes and, depending on location, they provide the following support:
    • Young self-harmers
    • Children and young people who experienced or at risk of experiencing online grooming and exploitation
    • Young people and young adults who are not in education, employment or training
      Generic youth support work provision such as youth or holiday clubs and positive activities / life skills programmes
    • Counselling/therapeutic interventions and Support Plus 
    • Family therapy
    • Play Therapy
  • Parents can contact Service Six to discuss a potential referral so they can check if it would be eligible for one of their free services or if it would need to be commissioned. If they are not able to offer a service they try their best to sign-post.

External service or resource links