Personal Education Plans – The Digital Solution
13th December 2022
By Ida Cohen, Senior Consultant Social Worker and Kelly Traverse, Education Knowledge Expert
Personal Education Plans (PEPs) have long been a statutory requirement to promote a looked after child’s educational progress. It remains an integral part of a child’s overall care plan and a fundamental mechanism for social care and education to work closely to ensure children reach their full potential.
In the digital age, where we strive for greater integration, security and efficiency, local authorities are increasingly turning to technology solutions to manage PEPs for several compelling reasons.
One integrated record
Moving to one system with joined-up information for each child is a major benefit when rolling out electronic PEPs. Fragmented information across several systems can result in information being missed or not joined up about a child.
This can result in delayed responses where there are significant changes which have an impact on a looked after child’s education as well as missed opportunities for effective joined up planning to support them to achieve.
When we started working with Kent County Council on its electronic PEPs implementation, integration was a key justification for moving away from its current standalone electronic PEP system.
Kent selected Liquidlogic’s Delegation Portal to streamline the PEPs process and ensure all relevant information to a child/young person’s social care and education information was held in one secure place contributed to by professionals who were not users of the Liquidlogic system.
The Virtual School team use the portal to request contributions to the child’s PEP from designated teachers. When the teacher completes the PEP information via the portal it then automatically updates the child/young person’s record within the Liquidlogic Children’s Social Care System.
The result is the Virtual School team and social care teams working from the same system, viewing a care plan alongside their education progress. A complete record ensures children and young people’s education needs are fully visible and understood and enables the teams to make better informed decisions and strengthens education support for children in their care.
Greater collaboration to support the best possible outcomes
The Schools White Paper, published earlier this year, focuses on opportunity for all and acknowledges that schools need the support of local authorities to realise the vision.
It extends on this by saying: “In the current system, over 15 per cent of children have an identified special educational need, and vulnerable children and children with SEND have lower educational attainment than their peers on average.
“A world-class school system must deliver brilliant outcomes for all children and, if we are to deliver our mission by 2030, we must ensure that vulnerable children and children with SEND are provided a better quality of education, underpinned by more effective, joined-up support.”
Kent’s delegation portal is helping to form a more effective partnership with schools in their area and strengthen PEP contributions. Prior to moving to the new portal, the Virtual School’s involvement with children and young people was held on a separate system which wasn’t accessible to social work staff but since moving to the joined-up system, both teams can see their contributions to a child’s care.
It is also used to obtain PEP contributions from designated teachers outside of the local authority area. Siloed working is an even greater risk where cross-boundary working takes place, and the portal makes it easy to reach designated teachers in other parts of country.
Summing up the successful implementation at Kent, Tracey Love, Systems Training and Support Officer at the Council, said: “Feedback from the schools on the portal has been extremely positive which is helping to drive up usage, encourage collaborative working and support the best possible outcomes for children and young people in our care. As of 5th September, there were 1,679 children and young people aged four-18 supported by Virtual School Kent, with 5,292 PEPs completed in the last 12 months.”
Time and cost savings combined with greater governance
When local authorities are building their business case for a digital solution, efficiency and cost savings are key justifications. Kent’s previous system only held PEP data, meaning the council had to go through the time-consuming task of manually matching it with its case management system to undertake any data analysis.
Now, when a designated teacher returns the complete PEP via the portal, the information provided is automatically transferred to the child’s record within the Liquidlogic Children’s Social Care System, freeing up valuable time to focus on supporting children. In addition, the Kent team can focus their data quality efforts on one system rather than two.
The portal has given Kent greater control to design their own PEP form specific to the region and implement the changes quickly across their service. With the initial implementation completed, the team are now embarking on several enhancements to further meet the needs of users and greater system flexibility will allow the changes to be rolled out at pace.
One of those improvements will be to adapt the system to meet the needs of very young children and children and young people with complex difficulties by developing a more visual PEP.
Other customers such as Bolton Council are also benefiting from greater governance and security. The council’s Information Systems Manager, Gillian Fulop, recently explained why these areas are standout benefits from her perspective: “The portal includes an audit of contributors to the PEP, which enables the Virtual School Team to easily see who has been delegated a PEP, by who and when, and also when the PEP has been completed. This in turn has allowed us to create reports for monitoring and managing the completion of outstanding tasks by schools.”
Bolton chose to use the intuitive portal as it works well to encourage infrequent external professionals to use its social care system without incurring associated overheads for additional user licences and specialist training.
As well as the Liquidlogic Delegation Portal, local authorities can choose from a range of solutions to manage the PEP process and interface with the Virtual School:
The Delegation Portal can be combined with the Children’s Portal to gather the views of the child/young person into the PEP and easily share completed plans with the child/young person and their parent/carer (foster or residential).
Councils can build on the combined portals and automatically feed in education data such as attendance, attainment and exclusions or suspensions directly with the children’s social care system to provide a richer picture of an individual’s progress and needs.
Building on the above option with the added benefit of a Virtual School module which includes a real-time dashboard to quality assure and monitor the process at child and cohort level.
To find out more about our PEP solutions please contact email@example.com.