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My Education

Your education is really important to help you in the future. Do you hear that all the time? Well – that's coz it's true!!

Do you have any ideas about what you might like to do when you grow up and leave school/college/university? You could do anything you want if you set your mind to it... really, you could!!

It may not seem so important now but a good education at school will help you in the future to get a job, go to college or go to university.

Did you know that there are over 40 looked after children in Lambeth Council who are at University at the moment training to be doctors, social workers, accountants, architects, business people and other exciting professions! That could be you too if you work hard now at school and college. (And remember – working hard at school and college means you can still have fun with your friends – just that you have to do some studying too!)

Why should I go to school?

I'm sure you know that going to school is not an option; it is the law for all children and young people aged between five and 16 to be in full-time education.

Sometimes it can feel like a chore – but you know what – school can be great fun! School is a great place to spend time with your friends, to learn new things, to get involved in sports, art and drama. You can find out more about the world and things that interest you. Sometimes it can be annoying to be told what to do by teachers but that is their job and they have to make sure that you are learning so you have a great future!

Moving schools

There are two main times when you will move school. You make a small move from nursery to primary school (this can sometimes be within the same school) and a bigger one when you move from primary to secondary school.

The move from primary to secondary will feel a lot more different because the size and shape of the school that you are moving to will be bigger, you will be around more people, and you will move around to different classrooms to take different lessons.

The other times when you might have to move school is if you move where you are living and it is too far to get to school. If you do move where you are living your social worker will always try to make sure that you can stay at the same school. Sometimes you won't be able to stay at your school. If this happens your social worker should talk with you and explain what will happen next. This will give you a chance to share your views on the type of school that you would like to go to and what you think about this. In some cases you will get to visit the school before you start there, so you can get a feel for what it is like.

My education rights

Every school has their own rules and code of conduct which will outline things that you can do and those that are against the rules set by the school. Some schools have student charters that give students a summary of their rights. In Lambeth, looked after children have their own set of standards, known as the Lambeth looked after children's pledge. The Lambeth looked after children's pledge sets out a list of things that the council expects schools to offer young people under its care. To see copies of the Lambeth pledge click here.

Need Help?

Who can I talk to at school?

If you are finding things at school hard or are having trouble concentrating or getting things done on time, you might need some extra help.

No matter what the situation, if you are finding it hard to deal with a problem help is always at hand.

In school or college there are a number of people that can help you to find solutions to your situation, for example:

Designated teacher for looked after children (all schools should have them, sometimes in primary school the head teacher does this job). The designated teacher is a person in school whose job it is to make sure all children who are looked after in that school are getting the support they need. They talk to class teachers about your work and how you are getting on in class.

Your form tutor/class teacher

  • A SENCO will support you with your difficulties. A SENCO is a specially trained teacher who works with children with special needs. Some children will have an Individual educational plan at school (IEP) which makes sure young people have the support they need at school.
  • Learning mentor: Somebody who is there to help young people who are having difficulties with school work or with life in school
  • Teaching assistant: A person, who supports the class teacher in the classroom, sometimes can be a good person to talk to.
  • School counsellor: a person trained to help young people deal with issues that concern them.
What help can I get outside of school?

Outside of school the following organisations may be able to help you.

  • Your Social Worker
  • Your Foster Carer/Key worker
  • If you are over 16 – your personal advisor
  • A tutor
  • Your local library – many have homework clubs
  • My personal education plan (PEP)
Why do I need a PEP?

All children and young people looked after have a personal education plan – this is what the law says has to happen. This is a plan that talks about your education to make sure that you are getting all of the support you need at school or college. It is also a chance for you to record all of the important information and achievements you have made.

Your personal education plan is part of your care plan. Although it might seem like more paper work, it is very important, as it is your opportunity to say what studies are going well for you, what you want to get out of your time there, what subjects/aspects you might need help with and what plans you have for your life after education – so that you can be guided into making the most of your options.

My views about my education

Your social worker will meet with you, your school's designated teacher and your foster carer/key worker and sometimes a teacher from the Virtual School to agree this. It is important for you to have your say about your education and what things you like and don't like about school. You can write these down on the PEP form and you can also have your say at the meeting.

Is there something you need or want to ask for?

Do you want to join a football team, learn a musical instrument, extra help with homework, start dance classes? Your PEP review meeting is one of your chances to let your Social Worker, Carers/Key workers and teachers know what you want to do.

Lambeth's Virtual School for children looked after by Lambeth

The Virtual School is here to make sure that you are getting everything that you should be from your education. We are based at International House in Brixton and usually work with your social worker to work out the best plan for your education, particularly if you move to another borough. Sometimes we are lucky enough to actually come out to your PEP meetings with your social worker to meet you in person which is great.

You recently told us that you were not too happy with the format of your part of the PEP form so we have created some new ones. Originally, there were two PEP forms, one for primary and one for secondary, but these did not give you the opportunity to really tell us what was important to you. To improve on this, four new ones have been created, one to cover each of the four key stages. This allows you to be a bit more specific at each stage of your school life and makes sure that nothing important gets forgotten. We hope that you like using the new forms – they have already been approved by a group of young people but it would be good to have any feedback from you about them as well.

School is an important part of your childhood. At the moment it is compulsory for you to attend from Reception age up to age 16 but the Government has plans to raise the school leaving age to 17 by the year 2013 and up to 18 by 2015.

There are various stages that you go through when you are at school:

From Reception, through years 1 - 4 you need to work really hard on learning to read and write and work with numbers – it is always a good idea to learn your times tables as soon as you can as it saves a lot of time in life generally but especially when you start doing more complicated maths.

When you are in Year 5 you need to think very carefully about what secondary school you would like to go to. It is a good idea to visit different secondary schools on their Open Evenings so that you get an idea of which one you might like.

When you start year 6 you need to submit your application for your choice of secondary school and you need to make sure that it goes off right at the beginning of the new academic year in September to make sure that you have a chance of getting your first choice of school. The end of Year 6 is an exciting time as you prepare to move on to secondary school and your teacher will help you to make this transition by discussing your strengths and weaknesses with your new teachers and sometimes by arranging visits. It can also be a sad time as some of your friends might be going to different schools – it is a good idea to buy an address book to write all your friends' addresses and phone numbers in so that you can keep in touch afterwards.

In Year 7 you will have to learn how secondary school works – it is very different to primary school. It will be a much bigger building and there will be many more teachers and children than you are used to. Some of the pupils in years 10 and 11 can sometimes feel very big and loud in comparison to you but don't worry because you will soon start to catch them up as you start to become a young adult. Another change from primary school will be that you have different teachers for different subjects and you will move around the school to get to your classes and most lessons end by the sound of a buzzer or a bell. You will need to leave plenty of time to get from one lesson to another in time, if you miss the start of the lesson you may miss out on important instructions from the teacher and then you will be at a disadvantage. You will start to learn your subjects in rooms that were designed for the purpose – science in science labs, art in art rooms.

There will also be different rules to learn – although some of them might seem strange – like only walking on the left in corridors and when using the stairs. These rules will have been put in place with safety in mind so it is wise to learn them and abide by them. Homework now becomes very important, it helps you and your teacher find out what you have actually learned and what you may need help with. It is a good idea to do your homework on the day that it is set , try not to leave it until the last day before it has to be handed in as you may be given more by other teachers and then you have too much to do. Remember to hand it in on time, your teacher needs to know that you have understood the work that has been set otherwise you may get left behind when you start to learn more difficult aspects of the subject. If your teacher can see from your homework that you need extra help or time to understand this subject, then this can be planned for. If you do not do your homework, or do it and forget to hand it in, the teacher will have no option but to assume that you understand the work and then you may start to struggle as work progresses as you will not have learnt the basics. Give it your best shot; many schools have homework clubs if you find it difficult to do your homework at home.

In years 8 and 9 you need to work hard and think about what you would like to do when you leave school so that you can make the right study options for your GCSE's in years 10 and 11.

In Year 10 you will probably do some work experience so that you can get a feel for the world of work. It is a good idea to plan for this so that you can get the work experience of your choice, that way you will know for sure that you really want to enter that field of work or you may decide that it is not quite what you expected and you can change your options for when you leave school.

In Year 11, not only will you have to concentrate on doing well in your exams, but you will also need to make choices about your life after school – you will need to investigate sixth form college options or apprenticeships. When you make your options at sixth form college it will be important to think ahead and plan what subjects you might need to study if you want to go on to University. Give yourself plenty of time to do this and take advice from the careers advisors in your school and from individual college and university websites.