The Designated Teacher
It is the duty of the governing body of every school in England and Wales to assign a member of staff the role of designated teacher or DT to have responsibility for promoting the educational achievement of previously looked after-children. This is a statutory requirement whether or not the school has a child has a previously looked-after (or child looked-after) currently on roll and ensures that whenever a new previously looked-after child is admitted to the school, that there is a teacher who is already trained to carry out this important role.
School Governors must ensure that the designated teacher is a qualified teacher (QTS) who has completed the appropriate induction period and is working as a teacher in the school. They must be of appropriate seniority to make decisions about the management of the PPP and to train and advise staff. The designated teacher must also be familiar with the statutory guidance issued by the Department for Education.
The designated teacher should take responsibility for helping all school staff to understand the types of circumstances that can adversely affect how previously looked after children learn and achieve, such as neglect, abuse or inadequate support by their birth families. This will enable the school as a whole to create a supportive environment for all previously looked after children. The DT should be attachment-aware and be able to explain to others how children who have unmet attachment needs may find it difficult to build and maintain relationships with their peers and with adults. They must also actively seek alternatives to exclusions, as these can have disastrous consequences for the life-chances of the previously looked after child or young person.
Details of the role of the designated teacher are set out in the DfE statutory guidance document The designated teacher for looked-after and previously looked-after children (February 2018).
The Governing Body is required to:
• ensure that the designated teacher undertakes appropriate training (section 20(2) of the 2008 Act);
• ask for an annual report delivered by the Designated Teacher;
• ensure that any issues raised by the designated teacher are acted upon to support the designated teacher and maximise the impact of the role.
The designated teacher has a key role in promoting a culture in which previously-looked after children are encouraged to thrive and given every opportunity to benefit from focussed study support or one-to-one tuition if necessary. The DT should be a central point of initial contact within the school for parents and guardians. They must also take the lead in ensuring that all members of school staff understand how previously looked-after children learn and to be aware of the emotional, psychological and social effects of loss and separation from birth families. They also have a responsibility for ensuring that whole school policies and procedures do not unintentionally put previously looked-after children at a disadvantage; that newly-arrived previously looked-after children have an appropriate and supportive induction to the school and that thought is given to transitions, school journeys and career advice.
The designated teacher may also wish to facilitate an adoption group for parents and carers within the school.