What is a Virtual School for Children in Care?

The role of the Virtual School is to help improve the educational journey and outcomes for children in care, from early years to the end of Year 13. Support and guidance to care leavers maybe offered and also to the staff supporting them.
The Children and Social Work Act 2017 set out new duties for local authorities, maintained schools and academies, effective from September 2018. It has extended the role of virtual school heads and designated teachers to certain previously looked-after children. This is because these children may continue to experience educational challenges after leaving care. The new remit extends to those children with:

• Child arrangements orders
• Special Guardianship Orders (SGO)
• Adoption orders

Each Local Authority is required to have a Virtual School for Children in Care and Post Looked After Children, but sizes of teams will vary across the different geographical areas depending on the demographic. It is a statutory requirement that every Virtual School has a Virtual School Head.

The Virtual School Head is the statutory lead (Children and Families Act 2014) within the local authority. They have responsibility for ensuring that arrangements are in place to improve educational experiences and outcomes of looked after children and young people. This includes those placed outside of the county.

Services that maybe offered by the Virtual Schools for Looked After and Previously Looked After Children:

Provision of training for:
Schools, early years settings and Post 16 providers
Professional colleagues, for example social workers and foster carers
Support with and signposting to interventions and resources to improve learning

Advice, guidance and support to:
Schools, early years settings and Post 16 providers
Professional colleagues, for example social workers, foster carers
Support and guidance for Personal Education Plans (PEPs)
Provision of out of school activities to support learning
Events that celebrate and recognise the achievements of children and young people.


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