A new App giving foster carers in Staffordshire more say and the chance to monitor and update children’s school records is set to have a positive impact on their schooling.
Many local authorities already use the online electronic ePEP system which is used to monitor and review children’s performances at school. However, Staffordshire County Council are the first authority to allow foster carers to both view and edit records themselves which is giving them a greater say in decisions around their young person’s education.
Mark Sutton, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Staffordshire County Council said:
“We really do value all of our Foster Carers and the amazing job they do in helping children reach their full potential.
“We know how important it is for looked after children to do well at school as it can determine how well they will do in their life in general.
“Foster Carers are the people that have day-to-day contact with the schools and education providers and it’s vital and only right that they are able to fully support and advocate for their young person. Giving them this opportunity to directly input their views and ideas is vital.”
Staffordshire Foster Carer Libby Thornhill who is also president of The Fostering Network, has been involved in the development of the new approach.
Talking about the difference the online system is making, Libby said:
“This is a really innovative approach and a great way to keep on top of the progress of the children we foster and work with.
“You don’t have to be particularly good at using information technology – if you had to be, I wouldn’t be using it! The system is really clear and easy to use, with lots of tick-boxes and drop-down menus.
“I can see and comment on my child’s educational records, their attendance, their progress against national expectations and their smart targets for Pupil Premium Plus funding and how this has been used.”
A young person who uses ePEP at home has also told Libby that:
“Using ePEP at home means that I have plenty of time to think about what I actually want to say about how I’m feeling about my classes and at school. I am able to type it all myself and say what I really think.”
Almost 300 foster carers in Staffordshire are now directly inputting into the online system.
Foster carers Dawn Allport and Alan Hudson from Cannock also use the system and said:
“Using the ePEP system has definitely allowed us to be involved in helping our young people achieve the best educational outcomes possible.
“Before ePEP I had to rely on either the social worker or the school to supply me with the information and this wasn’t always available. Now we are able to see past progress records and input our own thoughts, ideas and concerns directly into the system.
“More importantly, our young person is also able to enter their own details about how they think they are doing, their ambitions and any concerns from home.”
The Virtual school for Looked after children in Staffordshire works closely with the carers education focus group and through training and support is helping carers get the most out of the system
Sarah Rivers, Virtual School Headteacher said:
“We’re very pleased with this approach which is already having a positive impact on educational attainment. We’re very confident it will help children do better throughout their time at school.”