About the Virtual School
We want children and young people who are looked after to Staffordshire County Council or who have left local authority care to have great education experiences, through being supported by people who have high aspirations for them.
We want our young people to have stable education placements, in great settings that understand the impact and potential barriers that their care history may have on their education, attainment and achievement and do everything they can to help them aspire and achieve positive outcomes.
Role of the Virtual School
All local authorities in England are required to have a Virtual School Head who monitors looked after children as if they were in one school. The role of the Virtual School varies across authorities but all work with schools, social care partners and carers to help improve the outcomes of looked after children.
Virtual School Heads offer advice and guidance to schools and have responsibility for managing and distributing the Pupil Premium Plus for looked after children. Virtual Schools rely on schools providing them with progress data on a regular basis to ensure looked after children are on target to achieve to their full potential.
It is important that schools have high expectations and set aspirational targets, in Staffordshire we are implementing this this through the raising attainment of disadvantaged children project (RADY).
We are supporting Staffordshire Schools to become 'attachment aware and trauma informed' as we know that this understanding is key to ensure that looked after and previously looked after children can feel secure and supported to thrive in their education.
Our work is guided by the statutory guidance.
- Looked-after and previously looked-after children start with the disadvantage of their pre-care experiences and, often, have special educational needs. Virtual School Heads (VSH) have a key role to ensure these children have the maximum opportunity to reach their full educational potential.
- For looked-after children, as part of a local authority’s corporate parent role, the VSH needs to be the educational advocate that parents are for others.
- For previously looked-after children, the VSH will be a source of advice and information to help their parents to advocate for them as effectively as possible. VSHs are not acting as part of the corporate parent role in these circumstances, but are there to promote the educational achievement of these children through the provision of advice and information to relevant parties listed in previously looked after-children.
Staffordshire Virtual School governing body
The governing body has been established to provide governance for the educational arrangements for Staffordshire looked after and previously looked after children.
The governing body acts as a forum for discussions and decisions that will support us to fulfil our statutory educational duties as a corporate parent, to achieve the highest educational outcomes for looked after children.
They have three main priorities:
- To ensure that all looked after children receive an appropriate education and are supported to make good progress in their education
- To ensure that the child’s journey into and leaving care, including the impact of attachment and trauma is understood and supported to ensure that looked after and previously looked after children can thrive in education
- The virtual school maximises to best effect the resources available.
Voice of children in care and their carers
We value the voice of young people and work closely with the Voice Project to understand what young people tell us we need to do to make sure they thrive in education.
We work closely with carers who have their own sub group of the governing body in recognition of the key contribution they make to supporting the education of children in care.