Solihull virtual school
Initiated by care matters, time for change, all local authorities are advised to support raising the educational attainment and achievement of their looked after children through the overarching support of a virtual school.
The role of the virtual school is to promote the educational achievement of children in care, whether educated in Solihull or placed out of authority, through having high aspirations and working to close the attainment gap between those children and their peers. This is achieved, similarly to a real school, by maintaining an accurate roll of all children under the care of Solihull MBC and monitoring attendance daily along with termly progress and attainment. The Solihull virtual school team also provides advice and information to support children who were previously looked after and are now subject to adoption orders, special guardianship orders and child arrangement orders. This support has always been provided as required but it became a statutory requirement for all virtual schools in England in September 2018.
The personal education plan (PEP) for each looked after child includes the progress and attainment information as well as recording interventions, often funded through the pupil premium plus, to ensure the child achieves well. The virtual school works in partnership with teams in learning and skills to ensure that each child has an up to date, effective and high quality PEP that focuses on education outcomes.
The virtual school head has primary responsibility for ensuring that there is a suitable education in place for all children in care, this includes overseeing admissions, managed moves and education moves brought about through care placement moves. The virtual school team works with children at times of placement change, school change and periods of challenge in their lives to ensure that engagement with education is sustained.
Under the statutory role of the virtual school head, the virtual school team works to ensure that the pupil premium plus for children in care is:
- passed to schools to improve attainment outcomes on receipt of high quality planning as identified in the personal education plan
- managed within the virtual school to provide additional interventions to improve attainment for our children
The virtual school team provides training and advice for a number of partners including carers, people in a parental role, social workers, designated teachers, and independent reviewing officers so that each can understand their roles in supporting success for looked after children and those who were previously looked after.
Although the statutory responsibilities for the virtual school relate to children in care age 0-17 and those who have moved to adoption orders, special guardianship orders and child arrangement orders, the team has a role in contributing to the local authority’s effectiveness in promoting good educational outcomes for care leavers through to age 25.
“Our looked after children are supported, engaged and provided with a range of quality learning experiences”
The responsibility for each child’s education, target setting, learning, and teaching remains with the schools and settings where they are enrolled. However, it has been found that where another ‘virtual’ school is able to keep an overview and support looked after children’s education as if they also belonged to that ‘virtual school’ it has additional, positive benefits for their educational outcomes.
Solihull’s virtual school for looked after children provide support and challenge to schools, education providers, social work teams and other key partners in the form of staffing support, training, and additional resources. We also provide information, advice, and guidance (especially around personal educational plans), as well as monitoring and tracking of individual educational outcomes and targets.
The virtual school consists of the headteacher, finance officer, personal education plan coordinator, education caseworkers, teachers, and specialist careers advisers. Together we focus on improving the attainment, progression, and achievements of looked after children, maintaining high attendance and preventing exclusions. This will enable our children to have a more engaging and successful learning journey.
Virtual school can be contacted on: 0121 7048622 and firstname.lastname@example.org