Children and young people who have, or have ever had a social worker

‘Children with a social worker’ is a term used to refer to the cohort of children and young people aged 0-18 who are, or have ever been, assessed as needing intervention from social care. A social worker may have been involved in supporting a child due to safeguarding and/or welfare reasons, including those who are or have ever been subject to Child in Need planning or Child Protection Planning.

At the West Sussex Virtual School, we take a strategic lead in championing the educational attendance, attainment and progress of children with a social worker.

We champion the education of children with a social worker by:

  • making visible the disadvantages that children with a social worker can experience, enhancing partnerships between education settings and local authorities to help all agencies hold high aspirations for these children.
  • promoting practice that supports children’s engagement in education, recognising that attending an education setting can be an important factor in helping to keep children safe from harm.
  • enhancing children’s outcomes and narrowing the attainment gap so every child can reach their potential.

Why is this cohort important?

This cohort has been identified as a group who face significant barriers in fulfilling their potential in education due to their experiences of adversity and trauma. Most commonly abuse and neglect, these children and young people remain living in the same adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) as those currently in care and previously looked-after children.

ACEs are 'traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on health and wellbeing' (2022, 70/30 campaign). A useful infographic regarding ACEs can be found on the 70/30 campaign website.

The Department for Education (DfE) children in need review identified:

1.6 million children needed a social worker between 2012 and 2018, equivalent to 1 in 10 children or 3 children in every classroom.

These children are present in 98% of state schools.

Children with a social worker are around 3 times more likely to be persistently absent from school and between 2 to 4 times more likely to be permanently excluded from school than their peers. This group are also over 10 times more likely to attend state-funded alternative provision settings than all other pupils.

On average, children with a social worker do worse than their peers at every stage of their education.

Key actions

Further information about actions that need to be taken to best meet the needs of this cohort, and how the Virtual School will support you, can be found below.