Guidance for parents and guardians of previously looked-after children (PLAC)

A previously looked-after child is a child who was in care to an English or Welsh local authority and then left care because one of the following took place:

  • they were adopted
  • they were subject to a special guardianship order (SGO)
  • they were subject to a child arrangements order

Children who are adopted from state care elsewhere in the world are also previously looked-after children.

Children who were in care and returned to birth parents are not classed by central Government as previously looked-after children.

The Virtual School offers educational information and advice to parents and guardians of previously-looked after children. 

We can support you if your child is in a state funded school or early years provider in North Northamptonshire or West Northamptonshire and your child is not in post 16 education.

Information for parents and guardians 

It is your choice whether to inform the school that your child is previously looked-after. If you choose to inform the school of your child's previously looked-after status you should provide evidence of your child's previously looked-after status to the school.

They may seek our advice if the evidence is unclear.

If your child is falling behind with their learning, they may have a learning difficulty and you should speak with their school's Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO).

Around 15% of students are identified as having a learning difficulty. 

The main broad areas of need are:

  • cognition and learning 
  • communication and interaction 
  • social, emotional and mental health 
  • physical and/ or sensory 

Further advice can be found at:


If you are a guardian of a previously looked-after child, you may be entitled to support from Northamptonshire Children's Trust Post-Adoption Support Team.

If you are an adoptive parent, support may be available from Family Adoption Links Northamptonshire.

Ofsted reports and exam results can be important when selecting a school. Given the potential for attachment related issues to arise you should consider other factors. This includes how supportive, inclusive and nurturing the school will be if difficulties arise.

The Virtual School is unable to pass opinion on a school. Instead we recommend you visit potential schools and speak to key staff.

PAC-UK have put together some questions you may wish to ask primary schools and secondary schools.

Parents and guardians can express a preference of school for their previously looked-after child. Where a school is oversubscribed, previously looked-after children must be given priority. 

More information can be found in the school admissions code. This can be a complicated area. You can contact the School Admissions Team or the Virtual School for further advice.

Schools have a duty to promote the education of previously looked-after children. Each school must appoint a designated member of staff for previously looked-after children. If you have any concerns about your child's education you may contact them. 

To learn more about the school's duties, read The designated teacher for looked after and previously looked-after children statutory guidance

When an eligible school has recorded your child's previously looked-after status on the October school census it will receive PP+ funding, from central government in the following April. 

A school is eligible if the following applies:

  • It is a state funded school
  • Your child is between reception and Year 11

If you seek support for attendance or behaviour you may contact the school's designated member of staff for previously looked-after children.

If you seek SEMH support for your child you may contact the school's designated member of staff for previously looked-after children. 

Alternatively you may speak with the school's SENCO. 

An up to date list of organisations that provide support can be found in the Local Offer.

Individual advice 

You can contact us for individual advice. When contacting us please include: your child's name, date of birth and the name of their school. Please note we can provide educational advice and information. We do not advocate for previously looked-after children.

Last updated 12 April 2024