Vulnerable children

For the purposes of provision and policy, ‘vulnerable children’ are defined as any children at greater risk of experiencing physical or emotional harm and/ or experiencing poor outcomes because of one or more factors in their lives. 

There is no commonly used definition of childhood vulnerability. A child can be vulnerable to risks and poor outcomes because of individual characteristics; the impact of action or inaction by other people; and their physical and social environment. 

Additional factors include: 

  • the child’s physical, emotional, health and educational needs 
  • any harm the child has experienced or may be at risk of experiencing – these can include a specific set of childhood experiences known as ‘adverse childhood experiences’ (*)
  • the capability of the child’s carers and wider family environment to meet the child’s needs, or indeed to cause harm – these might include homelessness or poor housing conditions, the presence of adults in the home with mental health problems, alcohol and drug dependence, or contact with the criminal justice system, domestic abuse and poverty 
  • the absence of supportive relationships in a child’s life 
  • the wider community and social conditions beyond the family including crime, the built environment, community cohesion and resilience. 

This list is not exhaustive, and children can experience one or several of these factors with different levels of consequences over the course of their lives including into adulthood. 

(*)Some vulnerable children may also have adverse childhood experiences. These are a specific set of childhood experiences associated with negative outcomes in later life. Like other factors which make children more vulnerable, they do not inevitably lead to poorer outcomes, but their presence increases the risk of this happening.

Adverse Childhood experiences are defined as:

  • domestic violence
  • parental abandonment through separation or divorce
  • a parent with a mental health condition
  • being the victim of abuse (physical, sexual and/or emotional)
  • being the victim of neglect (physical and emotional)
  • a member of the household being in prison
  • growing up in a household in which there are adults experiencing alcohol and drug use problems.

As a school we use a pyramid of need to determine vulnerability levels within our pupil cohort.

Vulnerable Pupils at Kings Priory School (KPS) 

How does KPS define vulnerability?

Here at Kings Priory School, and in the context of our school community, vulnerable children are defined as:

  • Children who are carers for parents/other adults and/or siblings
  • Children with Additional Needs
  • Children who live in the Looked After sector
  • Children with a Child Protection Plan
  • Children with a EHA or TAF
  • Children with medical needs
  • Children who are disabled
  • Children with behavioural support requirements
  • Children who live in poverty
  • Children who live in overcrowded accommodation
  • Children who do not speak English as their home language
  • Children who are being bullied
  • Young children
  • Traveller children
  • Children who are being exploited
  • Children who access illegal substances
  • Children who are involved in crime
  • Children with unsupervised access to the Internet
  • Children who have suffered trauma and/or bereavement

How do we assess levels of vulnerability?

All staff at KPS are vigilant in identifying vulnerable children. We have a duty and responsibility to pass on all relevant concerns and information to relevant staff and to strive to meet the needs of all vulnerable children.

Once identified Pastoral leaders use a pyramid of needs triage system to determine pupils’ levels of vulnerability and subsequently mange the level of support and input required to ensure all pupils thrive.

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