SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER
This procedure applies to holidays and school/organisational trips within the UK for all Children in Care.
Section 1, Holidays was updated in December 2017 to include a reminder that Children in Care must not be taken on holiday during term time unless there are very exceptional circumstances. The reason for this is to try and minimise any disruption to the education of Children in Care and to help ensure they meet their full potential at school. Social workers and team managers will be expected to reinforce the importance of avoiding holidays during term time and any requests for exceptional leave need to be approved prior to any holiday planning by the school's Head Teacher; the Service Director, Early Help and Safeguarding, and the Head of the Virtual School.
Where there is a proposal for a Child in Care to go on holiday, the child's social worker must obtain full information about the holiday, and seek the views of the child and parent as soon as possible.
If the parents consent, their consent must be obtained in writing.
Where the social worker, parent and staff/carer agree to the proposed holiday, the holiday can be approved and details should be included in the child's Placement Plan.
Where the social worker considers that the holiday should go ahead despite the parents' opposition, and legal advice supports this, the approval of the social worker's manager to the holiday should be sought. The request for such approval should include the legal advice given.
Written confirmation of the manager's decision, together with the reasons, should be provided to the parent.
For children who are in a long term placement and there is agreement with the Children's Services that the carers have Delegated Authority, (see Delegation of Authority to Foster Carers and Residential Workers Procedure) depending upon the nature of the delegation agreed it may be the case that the carers are able to make such decisions themselves. However, good practice should ensure that decisions by the carers are shared in a timely way with the supporting Foster Care Social Worker and / or child's allocated practitioner.
Children must not be taken on holiday during term time unless there are very exceptional circumstances. This is because the average educational achievements of Children in Care fall way behind those of other children who are not in the care system. They therefore need the best possible and fullest experience at school to reduce the disadvantage they have already experienced in their lives.
Hence, social workers and team managers need to reinforce this. Any requests for exceptional leave need to be approved prior to any holiday planning by the school's Head Teacher; the Service Director, Early Help and Safeguarding, and the Head of the Virtual School.
(Note that under the Education (Pupil Registration) (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2013, the previous ability of headteachers to grant leave of absence for the purpose of a holiday during term time in 'special circumstances' of up to ten school days leave per year has been removed. The 2013 Regulations make clear that headteachers may not grant any leave of absence during term time unless there are 'exceptional circumstances').
Where the holiday will involve additional costs, the social worker should obtain approval for the costs from the relevant manager before the holiday can be agreed.
Where the holiday will interrupt contact arrangements between the child and parents, consideration should also be given to arranging additional contacts before and after the holiday.
The child's participation in school/organisational trips should be considered at the time of the placement, and the consultation required before they can be agreed should be included in the Placement Plan.Where a child is placed with the parents, the Placement Plan will usually provide that a school trip of up to 4 days can be agreed by the social worker in consultation with the school and the parent.
Where a child is placed in foster care or residential care, the Placement Plan will usually authorise the staff/carer to agree to the child going on school or other organisational trips of up to 4 days away without prior consultation with the social worker or the parent - see Overnight Stays and Social Visits Procedure. If the staff/carer have not been so authorised, the child's social worker and parents must be consulted before agreement can be given.
Where parental consent is not given, the social worker should consult their team manager and obtain legal advice as necessary. Where the team manager agrees to the child going on the trip despite parental opposition, the reasons must be recorded and explained to the parent.
The social worker should ensure risk assessments have been conducted.
Where the child expresses a wish to go on a school/organisational trip that is for more than 4 days, the following procedure should be followed.
To obtain approval for the trip, the social worker must first obtain full details of the arrangements for the trip including how many staff will be present, and whether all the adults on the trip including volunteers have had the necessary checks.
Social workers should ensure the appropriate procedure has been followed for risk assessments.
The child's social worker must seek the views of the parent, staff/carer and school as soon as possible and decide whether it is appropriate to recommend that the child be allowed to go.
If the social worker considers that it would be appropriate for the child to go on the trip, the social worker must seek the consent of his/her team manager.
The written request for such approval should explain the purpose and length of the trip; the wishes of the child; the views of the parent; the views of the staff/carer (unless the child is placed at home), the views of the school; arrangements for adult supervision on the trip, whether the adults are well known to the child and vice versa and the likely cost and how it is to be funded. The request for approval may be accompanied by a request for financial support.
Where parental consent is not given, the social worker should obtain legal advice and the request to the social worker's team manager should refer to the legal advice given. Where the team manager agrees to the child going on the trip despite parental opposition, the reasons must be recorded and a written explanation should be provided to the parent.
Only valid for 48hrs