Children looked after guidance for early years settings

Children looked after (CLA) are one of our most vulnerable groups of learners.

Children in care or looked after children are children who have become the responsibility of the local authority. This can happen voluntarily by parents who are struggling to cope or through an intervention by services because a child is at risk of significant harm.

Personal education plans (PEP)

The PEP is a statutory document that is required for all CLA from the age of 2 until the age they cease to be CLA (until they turn 18 and are classed as an adult.)

The PEP is the joint responsibility of Children's Social Care (social worker) and education (designated practitioner).

The purpose of the PEP is to support the child to progress in learning, thrive in their education setting and achieve the best outcomes. It should also support effective communication and partnership working between the education setting, Children's Social Care, the child, the carers, other relevant services and the Virtual School in the interests of the child.

When a Lancashire child becomes looked after the social worker will arrange for a PEP meeting to be convened to complete the PEP document within 20 working days of the child coming into care. When a child is placed in an emergency, the PEP should be initiated within 10 working days of the first placement. The setting will be contacted to agree a date and time for the initial meeting. The child and their carers will be part of the PEP meeting.

Lancashire early years PEP

All nursery and reception age CLA from the age of 2 have a Lancashire Early Years PEP. This is one format to be used by all nursery and reception class settings in Lancashire.

The electronic system for completing and submitting all PEPs is for all professionals involved in the process, including social workers, educational settings and the Virtual School. This professional portal requires you to register with an email address and password. The previous PEP formats used by nursery sectors and reception classes will no longer be accepted

If a child is attending more than one setting, it should be the main setting that completes the PEP form.


  1. Social Worker pre-populates the PEP from the Social Care database
  2. An email is sent to the setting to delegate the next stage of completion (This currently comes from '')
  3. Setting begins completion of the PEP before meeting
  4. Social Worker must attend all PEP meetings. In the event of unavoidable non-attendance, comments/input must be provided prior to the meeting, for example, telephone call and an email
  5. Setting completes PEP following the PEP meeting. Attachments can be sent by the setting through the professional portal by uploading supporting documents e.g. SEND targeted learning plans
  6. Setting submits completed PEP to Social Worker within 10 working days of the PEP meeting via the professional portal (setting will receive a reminder email prior to the due date)
  7. Social Worker checks PEP before delegating to the CLA Business Support team. If Social Workers have issues with the quality of the educational information that the setting has submitted, the Virtual School Consultant will be contacted for follow up
  8. Quality assurance process will take place and a grading given for a sample of PEPs. If amendments are required, the setting will be contacted and the PEP re-delegated to the setting to amend
  9. On approval of the PEP, an exported version will be securely emailed to the setting to share with parents/carers
  10. Process is repeated termly for review meetings/PEPs. Once the first PEP form is finalised, the second PEP form process will be immediately started by either Virtual School Consultants or CLA Business Support and reassigned to the Social Worker to delegate to the setting

Submission of PEPs

All PEPs must be submitted no later than 10 working days following a PEP meeting. Do not delay with this submission. The Virtual School also sets a date each term by which all PEPs have to be submitted. These deadline dates have changed to:

Autumn Term - 31 December

Spring Term - 31 March

Summer Term - 31 August

PEP reviews

It is a requirement that PEPs are reviewed and updated once a term.

It is primarily the responsibility of the education setting to determine the most appropriate time for the review and consult with the Social Worker to agree a date and time for the meeting.  It is essential that carers are involved and it is important that the child can contribute their own views (All about me) prior to the meeting.  It may be appropriate to invite other attendees such as representatives of SEND, CAMHS, Virtual School, as required.

Quality Assurance of early years PEPs

This will be carried out by the Virtual School on a sample of PEPs, in conjunction with a Senior Early Years Consultant. Feedback will be provided on the exported PEP returned to the setting.

Out of county children

If a child is looked after by another local authority, the PEP template and system of that local authority must be used.

Support and advice

For any support and advice with CLA and guidance on completing a PEP:

Virtual School for CLA

The Virtual School's role is to be a champion of Lancashire CLA in any educational setting. We have an early years consultant for Lancashire's children looked after.

What we do:

  • Provide advice and guidance for practitioners working with CLA
  • Ensure all CLA have a PEP and quality control these PEPs
  • Ensure all LA services and agencies prioritise CLA in their work and practice
  • Track progress and attainment for all CLA in an educational setting
  • Manage and allocate PPG+
  • Liaise with all related services and professionals in the interests of the CLA

If you have any queries email