IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Promoting the Achievement of Looked After Children (PALAC)

Improving outcomes for students in care.

PALAC is a Knowledge Exchange (KE) programme that seeks to support practice in schools to improve outcomes for students in care. It originated as a result of the dearth of evidence available to support schools in developing practice for this group of children and young people.


The collaborative relationship between practitioners in school and university researchers seeks to improve our collective understanding of how students in care can thrive in school.

Evidence-informed practice

The programme promotes evidence-informed practice in schools and the structure of the programme itself is based on what is currently understood as how to best support professional learning and development in schools.

However, as a KE programme, PALAC places considerable emphasis on the generation of evidence from practice to contribute to the emerging evidence base.

Knowledge Exchange events

PALAC holds a series of events designed to disseminate research findings and support practitioners in considering how to integrate aspects of PALAC into practice.


PALAC was piloted in December 2014. PALAC is now at the start of its sixth year with over 150 schools from more than 20 Local Authorities (LA) across England and Wales having participated.


We currently run three KE programmes:

  1. The PALAC school programme in collaboration with a Virtual School (VS) within a local authority
  2. 16-25 programme: Education, Employment and Training (EET) for Care Experienced Young People aged 16-25
  3. Regional KE programme for VS within one region.

Collaborative model

The programme engages schools and VS in a collaborative year long programme through access to research findings, a comprehensive school audit tool and regular support from facilitators with research and school practitioner backgrounds. Participants have the opportunity to share and evaluate their findings at the end of the year.

The PALAC team links with a LA to support the development of teacher practice in a more systemic way and to help ensure that learning from the programme can be sustained once the formal PALAC programme comes to an end.

16-25 programme (pilot)

In October 2017 we began the pilot of our EET for Care Experienced Young People aged 16-25 with South Tyneside Virtual School.


The aim of the programme is to support the development of practice across EET to ultimately improve outcomes for care experienced young people. It seeks to achieve this aim by providing a forum for KE between professionals and researchers.

The field of EET for this group of young people is under researched, particularly in relation to the application of practice. The structure is similar to the school programme, taking place across an academic year. 


These include representatives from Further Education, the Leaving Care team, the third sector, local employers, the Connexions Service, a carer and care leavers.


We plan to submit a book for publication on Promoting the Achievement of Care Leavers in 2020.

Key findings to date

In February 2017 we held the first PALAC national conference and this event provided an opportunity to celebrate the projects carried out with our partners in schools, virtual schools and local authorities:

At the conference we launched the first book from the programme which includes case studies from the pilot:

  • Taking Action for looked After Children in School (UCL IOE Press, 2017)






For further info please email inclusive.education@ucl.ac.uk

See also