Looked After Children and Previously Looked After Children


Designated Teacher: Ruth Byrne

Link Governor: Emma Forrester

A child who has been in the care of their local authority for more than 24 hours is known as a looked after child. Looked after children are also often referred to as children in care, a term which many children and young people prefer.

Each UK nation has a slightly different definition of a looked after child and follows its own legislation, policy and guidance. But in general, looked after children are:

  • living with foster parents
  • living in a residential children's home or
  • living in residential settings like schools or secure units.

There are a variety of reasons why children and young people enter care.

  • The child’s parents might have agreed to this – for example, if they are too unwell to look after their child or if their child has a disability and needs respite care.
  • The child could be an unaccompanied asylum seeker, with no responsible adult to care for them.
  • Children's services may have intervened because they felt the child was at significant risk of harm. If this is the case the child is usually the subject of a court-made legal order.

A child stops being looked after when they are adopted, return home or turn 18. However local authorities in all the nations of the UK are required to support children leaving care at 18 until they are at least 21. This may involve them continuing to live with their foster family.

Previously looked-after children are those who are no longer looked after by a local authority in England and Wales because they are the subject of an adoption, special guardianship or child arrangements order; or they were adopted from 'state care' outside England and Wales.

If you would like to look at our Looked-after Children (LAC) policy, please follow the link to our policies page LAC policy

The Virtual School is a statutory service which exists to support and challenge all those involved in the children in care. Manchester Virtual School supports Manchester City Council to effectively fulfil its corporate parenting responsibilities by working as the lead education advocate for the children and young people in its care. They monitor their attendance, attainment and achievement to ensure that their educational success is a top priority in care. If you would like to know more follow the link below.

A quick read guide about the Manchester Virtual School

Useful web links for families










Student Login