Information for social workers

The Role of the Social Worker

Social workers have a legal duty to make sure that every child in care is properly cared for, both emotionally and physically.

This includes:

  • Ensuring that the welfare of the child or young person is safeguarded
  • Ensuring that they are receiving care that meets their day-to-day needs
  • Ensuring that they are receiving appropriate education
  • Making sure they are having regular medical checks
  • Ensuring that contact is maintained with the child's family and friends
  • Making decisions regarding the child's care plan and future


When a child is newly placed in care, Wokingham Borough Council must arrange a suitable care placement. The child's allocated social worker should do everything possible to minimise disruption to the child's education, particularly at Key Stage 4 or earlier if they have already embarked upon GCSE or similarly accredited programmes. This is essential for their future progression within education, employment or training.

As soon as a child comes into care and is of school age, it is the Social Worker's responsibility to initiate the first PEP meeting. Best practice dictates the initial PEP meeting should take place within 20 working days of a child coming into care.

If it is not possible to maintain the child's existing education placement, the child's new education placement should be arranged in consultation with the Virtual School at the same time as the care placement.  It is the policy of Wokingham's Virtual School that our Looked After Children should only be placed in a school rated by Ofsted as 'good' or 'outstanding'. 


Personal Education Plans

What is a Personal Education Plan?  (PEP)

The PEP forms an integral part of the Care Plan for the child or young person.  It is therefore the social worker's responsibility to ensure a current PEP is in place.  A PEP should be held for any child aged 2-4 who is attending an education setting, right up until the age of 18.

The PEP should be a working document, an ongoing record of what needs to happen for children in care, to enable them to make expected progress in education and fulfil their potential. The PEP should reflect the importance of a personalised approach to learning that meets the child's identified needs, raise aspirations and build life chances.

The PEP is the joint responsibility of the Local Authority and the school.  As the lead professional for the child, it is expected that the Social Worker, with the support and help of the Virtual School, organises the PEP meeting and invites the relevant people (such as carers or birth parents if appropriate). 

As the social worker, you will be expected to:

  • initiate the PEP, even where a child in care is without a school place.
  • ensure that where a child is placed in an emergency, the PEP is initiated within 10 working days of their becoming looked-after, wherever they are placed
  • ensure the PEP is effective and is available for the first statutory review meeting of the care plan
  • ensure the PEP gives details of who will take the plan forward and specifies timescales for action and review.


A Personal Education Plan (PEP) should happen within 20 working days of the child coming into care.  It must be available for the first Child in Care review.  Then it must be reviewed on a minimum of a termly basis (3 times per academic year).

Overview of PEP Process:

When a child comes into Care, the social worker informs the Virtual School and initiates the PEP, inviting the relevant people - including the school, Virtual School case worker and carers/parents to attend.  This is the child or young person's meeting, and therefore their views are extremely important.  These views should be gathered by school before the meeting in an age-appropriate way.  If the child or young person is able and willing, they should also be encouraged to attend the meeting themselves.

You will then need to fill in the Social Worker Section of the PEP document.  This is found on our electronic PEP system, ePEP.  This is the software used by WVS to track all educational information about the young people on our roll. If you do not have login details then please contact our Education Coordinator who will get you set up on the system.  There are also regular training sessions available on how to use ePEP. The social worker must attend the PEP meeting itself, although this meeting should be chaired by the Designated Teacher. 

Social Workers have an important part to play in supporting the education of looked after children. The Virtual School staff are aware of the wide range of responsibilities held by social workers and try to support them as much as possible where education is concerned. 

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