Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children Offer


Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

  1. The legal definition of Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

The term ‘Unaccompanied Asylum Seeker’ is used to describe a person who has made a claim for asylum within the meaning of s 16 (3) Nationality Immigration Asylum Act (NIAA) 2002 and is awaiting a decision from the Home Office.

The term ‘Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children’ is used to describe children who enter the country, apply for asylum and meet the following criteria:

  • is, or (if there is no proof) appears to be, under eighteen
  • is applying for asylum in his or her own right
  • has no adult relative or guardian in this country

Or those young people who enter the UK accompanied but become unaccompanied during their stay in the UK and subsequently claim Asylum in their own right.


Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) are children and young people who are seeking asylum in the UK but who have been separated from their parents or carers. While their claim is processed, they are cared for by a local authority.It is recognised that for some Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) there have been challenges and delays in providing for their education. This is particularly so for those children who are chronologically Year 11 and for whom education provision is sought from the spring term of the academic year onwards. Furthermore, we are seeing an increase in the number of younger children seeking asylum.

Statutory guidance states that all Looked After Children (LAC) - including UASC (Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children) should have an education placement secured within 20 days of coming into care.  Commitments by both the local authority and individual schools is key for achieving this, with schools that have an ethos of welcoming UASC having a positive effect on the school admission process.


This briefing pack is intended to provide clarity about the expectations for the education of UASC, the admissions process and how to support them once admitted to school.  Halton Virtual School will continue to support the education of this vulnerable group of learners on an individual basis as appropriate to their needs. In addition to the guidance in this briefing pack further information is available in the appendices.    

For many UASC arriving in the UK they will have undertaken a traumatic journey, often half way round the world without their families - who they may never see again. They may have little or no experience of education and as such will require support to not only settle into the UK but into school life. However, some UASC will have received an education and may have a sound knowledge base in a variety of subjects; with some support to learn both spoken and written English they will soon be at a level with many of their peers.

In addition some young people will have experienced traumatic starts to their life, often living in countries that are at war, violence or they may have been trafficked into the UK and therefore will require additional pastoral support and counselling. Often their legal status remains uncertain and as such they will require time off school to attend legal and medical appointments.

2 Legal context

UASC are entitled to care and protection under the provisions of the Children Act 1989 & 2004 and where appropriate the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000. They are children first and asylum seekers second, regardless of their immigration status, whilst in the care of Halton County Council.

3 Admission procedures

The Department for Education issued “Promoting the education of looked-after children and previously looked-after children. Statutory guidance for Local Authorities” (February 2018). Under the terms of the Statutory Guidance Social Care colleagues should consult with their local authority ‘Virtual School’ where any child in care needs a new school.

UASC are entitled to an education like any other child of statutory school age.[1] Social Care will complete assessments including an age assessment if appropriate upon the arrival of UASC and produce a Care Plan to include education. The expectation is that a mainstream school place is sought as it should be for any other child with Care status.

If the student is of Statutory School Age and not accessing education, all effort will be made by the Virtual School to provide interim alternative provision as with the rest of the cohort. 

4 Admissions Code

The Statutory Guidance states that ‘Where a placement has been made in an emergency, or where education provision breaks down, the responsible local authority, through the child’s Social Worker and accountable Team Manager, should ensure that a suitable new education placement is secured within 20 school days. Social Care colleagues should identify and apply for a school rated either Outstanding or Good as soon as possible; the 20 days in which an application must be determined will only begin once it is submitted. It is the expectation of The Virtual School that once a place is offered admissions arrangements must be made without further delay.

Social Care will check the Ofsted website for a copy of the school’s latest Ofsted inspection report. Social Care may also wish to speak with the school’s Designated Teacher for Children in Care, which all schools are required to have, to arrange a visit before making an application. 

Most UASC are of secondary school age and can arrive at any point during the school year. In Halton there is the advantage of the Secondary School Mid-Year Admissions Protocol for Children in Care. This

5 Education provision expectation

It is recognised that the admission of UASC to school may present a challenge in terms of organising appropriate provision and resources. Positively, many UASC are determined and enthusiastic learners. Their English language and communication skills may be limited but this in no way reflects their intellect or ability to learn with the right support. There have been some carefully planned, successful UASC integrations to Halton schools in recent years. With the right provision and support from inside and outside school UASC can flourish.



6 Expectation of provision

All children and young people of statutory school age should receive full time education consistent with their Key Stage:

  • 21 hours at Key Stage 1
  • 23.5 hours at Key Stage 2
  • 24 hours at Key Stage 3
  • 24 hours at Key Stage 4 (Year 10)
  • 25 hours at Key Stage 4 (Year 11)

A time limited phased integration to school may be used for UASC but this should not be automatic; some UASC will have accessed education and may have a sound knowledge base in a variety of subjects. Any reduced timetable must be agreed by all relevant parties


7 Barriers to learning

One of the obvious and common barriers for UASC is language skills. They may find conversations difficult to begin with and will often appear shy or reserved; therefore making group work and informal situations like break and lunch times difficult for them. UASC may require additional support to acquire basic oral English before progressing to reading and writing. Careful consideration of how to include UASC in lessons will be required; please see Appendix 1 for suggested classroom strategies.

Besides provision considerations for schools some UASC may be overwhelmed by the size of a school, the day to day routine of school life, and mixing with people of the opposite sex. UASC may show reluctance to change in front of others and may have no experience of practical subjects like Drama, or Design and Technology. Good practice to support UASC during their transition into school is to allocate a designated space for them to go during breaks and lunchtimes if they are feeling overwhelmed, it is important to ensure that the young person is taken there and introduced to the staff as part of their initial visit to the school.

8 Wider school community

Many UASC are grateful for the fresh start and determined to gain an education. They can often bring many positive aspects to school, for example cultural opportunities for the wider school community through celebratory school assemblies and peer-working. It is recognised that schools will have established procedures to follow when admitting pupils ‘mid-year’; schools may want to consider whether there is anything additional required when admitting UASC. UASC may be interested in sport or other activities and could be encouraged to join clubs at or outside of school. 

9 Integration Plan

Many UASC will not be aware of school routines and expectations and will need additional support. In addition to an admission meeting the following could be considered:

  • Plan of school and tour;


  • Plan of the local area, including the route to and from school;


  • Names and introductions to key members of staff including photos;


  • Details of school the school routine eg breaks, lunch, change of lessons;


  • Term dates / school events;


  • Information on the curriculum, grading system, homework expectations;


  • Information on how to access school on-line learning and after school support;


  • School clubs and activities;


  • Uniform list, including PE and equipment list with any necessary religious or cultural adjustments;


  • Information on wider community support and clubs;


  • Peer buddy and named key worker;


  • Agreed plan of support which will be put in place; and


  • Plan for progression review (could be PEP meeting)


10 Ongoing support

As with any new pupil who starts at school, they first few weeks can often feel overwhelming, confusing and lonely. This is especially true for UASC who will not have their family with them, in a strange country and who may be concerned for loved ones in their home country. Staff will need to be vigilant for signs of any deeper problems or difficulties that may emerge once the pupil begins to settle.  

Pastoral support - it is important for the young person to feel part of the community. It may be helpful to obtain information about their country of origin and find out if there are any local groups who can offer support.

Appointments – claiming asylum is a legal process and UASC will have a number of appointments to keep in support of their claim and any subsequent appeal. They will need to attend Home Office and solicitor appointments to prepare their claim to be heard. This can involve several days out of school over the course of a six month period.

Counselling - UASC may require ongoing emotional support. Reasonable information should be shared with staff in order to support with any changes in behaviour in order to ensure that staff can be supportive.

Socialising - UASC may often feel socially isolated and could become victims of bullying. They may have low self-esteem and lack confidence. To support a young person try to encourage them to attend lunch and after school clubs and join school teams. UASC may also need support in building and maintaining friendships.

Review / Personal Education Plan (PEP) - in order to provide ongoing support as the young person settles into school it is vital to hold regular review meetings and discuss any concerns with the Social Worker / Foster Carer. In addition as the young person begins to settle there may be indications of additional needs which could require input from the school’s SENCO.

Pupil Premium and UASC

In 2014 the government introduced Pupil Premium for Children in Care, which is currently £2530 per year. As with all looked after children, UASC qualify for Pupil Premium is allocated solely on the basis of the termly PEP completed by the school on CLA Tracker. It is not dependent on the PEP meeting, rather it is allocated on the basis of educational need; in some circumstances it may be more or less than the amount set according to need. The principle of schools using their professional judgement for appropriate use of Pupil Premium has not changed, rather it is the method by which it is accessed and the accountability of the Virtual School Headteacher. 

11 Social Care

  • Each UASC will be allocated a Social Worker from point of entry in Halton. UASC will have no person with Parental Responsibility (PR) in the UK. Halton will accommodate them under S20 of the Children Act 1989 and assume PR. Halton Social Care become the corporate parents of all UASC and are responsible for their welfare and decision-making.


  • Social Care will complete an assessment of need within 7 days of arrival which will form the basis of the Care Plan for the child. The Care Plan will be regularly reviewed in order to determine if needs continue to be met. Education provision will be invited to each review to contribute views. Each UASC will have an allocated Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) responsible for chairing the statutory reviews of the Care Plans of all Looked After Children. The IRO should ensure that a current PEP is considered as part of the review.
  • Many UASC will have suffered traumatic experiences and may require therapeutic intervention in the form of EWMHS, dependant on need, support from Social Care quadrant-based Mental Health Co-ordinators or in-school counselling provision where available. UASC will have the services of a LAC nurse who will oversee their health needs and insure initial and review health assessments are undertaken.


  • Over and above being a UASC children are seen as Looked After Children and will be offered all support in order for them to remain safe from harm and reach their potential.


12 Post 16 UASC Support

Support for our unaccompanied asylum-seeking children (UASC) cohort takes the form of PEP provision and ‘cohort catch ups’ with our local (but not exclusively) schools, colleges and other ESOL providers.

Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings take place termly and incorporate the students’ voice whilst reporting upon their educational progress, attainment and aspirations.  Professionals in attendance of meetings include: progress leaders, social care (either social worker or personal assistants), key workers at residential placement and the Virtual School.  Halton Virtual School strongly advocate the PEP process continues (even once the UASC turns 18) to secure consolidation and aid transition into the next sphere of the individual’s educational journey.     

If the UASC is Post 16 and not in education, employment, or training (NEET), a NEET PEP will be completed to monitor and actively support the individual to move into education, employment or training (EET)*, linking in with key workers, social care and local transition advisors. 

(* Due to Visa restrictions, unless the young person has “leave to remain”, education is their only option, as they are not allowed to work so cannot access apprenticeships, employment etc.*) 


13 Further Information and support for new arrivals without an education placement

The Virtual School now has a dedicated webpage outlining current provision for our increasingly growing UASC cohort. The website contains specific documents and files relating to the asylum process, supporting individuals in school settings, general information on the asylum model, supporting migrant children and English language leaning packs and resources.  It is intended that this website is accessed by schools, colleges, social care colleagues, residential settings and individuals. 


As a Borough, we have recently had a significant increase in our UASC cohort.  As this trend is replicated nationally, there has been increasing capacity pressure on traditional colleges who offer ESOL provision.  As a result, we have found that some of newly into care UASC have found it difficult to access ESOL provision (particularly if their arrival is in the school holidays) as most provision locally is geared towards the ages of 19+ adult ESOL and does not operate in the school / college holidays). 


Halton Virtual School have developed a bespoke offer for UASC.  On arrival, our new into care UASC will be provided with the Flash Academy ESOL learning platform and workbooks.  Additionally, a laptop would also be available to loan out to the young person with the view that if they engage in learning and any age assessment outcome proves them to be a 'child' then they would keep the laptop with the objective of it being used to support and develop their acquisition of English before and after they manage to attain an ESOL placement with a local education provider. 

This digital device will be furnished with the Flash Academy learning platform which is aimed exclusively at the growing UASC national cohort.  Our intention is that those UASC in our care will develop a firm grasp of the English language to support them in all aspects of their life. The learning platform will allow them to practice their various levels of English acquisition whilst giving them a vital communication portal. Access to a personal electronic device such as a laptop will ensure digital empowerment and access to myriad learning and communicative opportunities.  Development and engagement can be tracked and monitored by the Virtual School and intervention will take place where necessary.

Halton Virtual School consider the laptop and ESOL learning platform offer a vital stepping stone in developing English language skills whilst awaiting specialist ESOL provision.  Moreover, the app can be used with a licence as a long-term fixture and support the student once they enrol within an ESOL college setting.

Further information is available on the Halton Virtual School website:


NB – The Virtual School will also aim to support UASC students awaiting a college place by purchasing bespoke books and work packs where considered relevant.







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Halton Virtual School

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