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Placing an advisory teacher in children’s social care

Mother and child
Published: March 2022

We were commissioned by What Works for Children’s Social Care (WWCSC) to evaluate the pilot programme ‘Placing an advisory teacher in children’s social care’ during the academic year 2020/21.

The programme was delivered by Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) Virtual School and aimed to raise attainment, attendance and pupil confidence, and decrease school exclusions of a cohort of children on a Children in Need (CIN) or Child Protection (CP) plan in schools across BANES. A key feature of the programme centred on targeted support provided by advisory teachers to individual schools and social care teams.

Aims of the pilot evaluation

The pilot evaluation combined quantitative and qualitative data collection activities to examine:

  • Feasibility – e.g. how the programme is implemented in practice;
  • Early indicators of promise – e.g. whether and how levels of attendance, exclusions and academic progress changed over the pilot period;
  • Readiness for trial – e.g. changes required to improve delivery;
  • Costs – resources needed to deliver the programme.

Findings

This was a small-scale programme, and the pilot evaluation was not designed to measure impact of the project compared with business-as-usual. With this caveat, the evaluation produced several promising findings, including:

  • School staff believed that the support met pupils’ needs. Interventions were highly targeted and personalised and provided a ‘safe space’ outside of the normal classroom and the pupils’ home environments.
  • School staff, social workers and advisory teachers identified progress in children’s confidence and emotional resilience. They believed that the extra support, coupled with tailored provision, contributed to these positive outcomes.
  • Average attendance improved among pilot pupils. While on average 74.4% pupils attended during the autumn term 2020/21, this increased to 86.7% in the summer term 2020/21.
  • Scale-up for a full efficacy trial may be possible within a single LA by increasing the sample to incorporate a larger proportion of CIN and CP pupils within the LA. However, it may be desirable to implement and evaluate the trial across multiple LAs to benefit from an increased sample size and higher confidence in the generalisability of findings

Methods

The evaluation combined qualitative methods with analysis of quantitative administrative data. Qualitative methods included interviews with advisory teachers, school staff, social workers and local authority stakeholders. Administrative data was collected by the BANES Virtual Schools and included data on pupils’ academic progress, school attendance and exclusions.