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Educating looked-after children within a virtual school

A virtual school doesn't actually exist as a building and children and young people don't actually attend.

It's a service provided to promote and support the education of looked-after children (children in care) and care leavers.

Contacts details

Address:Ballard House
26 West Hoe Road
Telephone number: 01752 307009
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A virtual school doesn't actually exist as a building and children and young people don't actually attend. It's a service we have to provide to promote and support the education of looked-after children (children in care) and care leavers.

The role of the virtual school is to:

  • promote education in the lives of children and young people in care
  • monitor, challenge and support the termly Personal Education Plans for children in care which should be completed by the social worker, designated teacher, foster carer and child
  • allocate and monitor the use of the Pupil Premium Grant for children in care, which is intended to help remove emotional barriers to learning and raise attainment nearer to that of their peers
  • advise, support and challenge designated teachers, other professionals and carers on educational issues
  • report to the Virtual School Management Board and our Corporate Parent Body on the educational progress of children in care
  • support children, families and schools during the transition from care into adoption
  • link with other agencies and local authorities to improve the life chances of children and young people in care
  • promote the importance of stable, supported educational placements for children and young people in care, in the most inclusive setting appropriate to the child's needs
  • liaise closely with schools and settings outside Plymouth where the city retains responsibility for their children in care
  • support and promote the educational aspirations of young adults leaving care until they reach 21 (24 if they're in higher education)

We will provide exceptional support and encouragement to all our young people so that they:

  • Experience stability and feel safe, cared for, valued, supported and trusted.
  • Are confident, have a strong sense of identity and are empowered to be independent to enjoy learning and have fun.
  • Achieve well both academically and socially and reach their full potential.

Above all we want our young people to be proud of who they are, who they are becoming and to own their story.

Virtual school resources

Our core functions

To champion the educational needs of Looked-After Children (LAC) and Previously Looked-After Children (PLAC) across the authority and those placed out-of-authority:

  • we will champion the needs of Looked-After Children across the authority and beyond, and spread effective practice, particularly in relation to improving behaviour and attendance, promoting stability of placement and school stability through admissions policies.
  • we will work with others in local authorities and schools to ensure measures are taken to promote positive behaviour, good attendance, and reduce exclusions, which should in turn lead to good progress and improved attainment.
  • we will ensure social workers adequately consider the educational needs of Looked-After Children when a child/young person comes into care or when taking decisions about moving placements.

To ensure there is an effective approach to track, monitor and improve the attainment, progress and attendance of all LAC and PLAC:

  • we will rigorously track and monitor attainment and progress data, including attendance, behaviour and exclusion on a termly basis for all Looked-After Children under the care of Plymouth and ensure appropriate provision is being made within schools both as curricular and extracurricular support, challenging schools where progress is not in line with local and national expectations.
  • we will work in partnership with our schools and other organisations to improve overall outcomes, wellbeing and destinations of both individuals and cohorts of Looked-After Children, by maximising educational opportunities, targeted support, resources and funding, as well as by providing training and signposting of available services to support specific needs.

To ensure all LAC have a robust and effective Personal Education Plan and monitor the use of the Pupil Premium Plus grant:

  • we will work with our Personal Education Plan (PEP) provider and other relevant professionals to provide support and training to ensure PEPs are of a high quality and to ensure professionals are held to account for the sections for which they have responsibility. We will ensure that PEPs are subject to a rigorous monitoring and evaluation process, with impacts and outcomes that are followed up.
  • we will ensure that Looked-After Children are able to access the Pupil Premium Plus grant, where appropriate and monitor the use and impact of these funds on raising educational standards. We will assist schools to explore other sources of additional funding/support where possible.

Provide high quality training to other teams and individual professionals in matters relating to the education of LAC and PLAC:

  • Plymouth Virtual School will provide and commission a variety of training for schools, carers and social workers, on areas such as:
  • Statutory responsibilities
  • Producing high-quality PEPs
  • Attachment and trauma
  • Inclusion, attendance and exclusions
  • Evidence-based strategies to support the education of LAC and PLAC
  • Effective use of Pupil Premium Plus

Local authorities have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of any child Looked-After by them. This includes a particular duty to promote the child's educational achievement. The authority must therefore give particular attention to the educational implications of any decision about the welfare of those children.

All professionals (including teachers) working with Looked-After children, all carers, and all elected members, constitute the corporate parents of children in care. In fulfilling that role, they should each ask themselves whether the services, support, and opportunities available to their Looked-After children would be good enough for their own children. If they cannot honestly answer in the affirmative, then it is their duty as a corporate parent to act to improve that offer.

A local authority has no specific duties, beyond those to all children, in relation to children living in its area, but Looked-After by another local authority. This does not mean that the Virtual School and local authorities more broadly, may not establish reciprocal and cooperative arrangements between themselves relating to these children.

Based: Plymouth
  • 0 to 1 years old
  • 5 to 11 years old
  • 12 to 16 years old
  • 17 to 25 years old
  • 1 to 2 years old
  • 2 to 3 years old
  • 3 to 4 years old
  • 4 to 5 years old

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