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Virtual School

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Virtual School

Who are we?

The Virtual School is a small, joint agency, countywide team of specialist staff from education and social care set up in 2001 to improve the educational achievement and experience of Buckinghamshire’s children in care.

Guidelines for Looked After Children

The Virtual School has produced guidelines for schools in relation to Looked After Children. 

This guide supports schools to maximise outcomes for their Looked After Children, through monitoring and supporting their progress via Personal Education Plans and effectively communicating with the appropriate people and agencies involved in the life of each young person.

There are two versions available to download; a PDF version and an editable Word document.

 

Background

  • There are approximately 460 children in care in Buckinghamshire and about 300 of these are of statutory school age. 
  • 50% of children in care nationwide reach school leaving age with no educational qualifications and a significant percentage are unemployed a year after leaving care.
  • Educational underachievement and social isolation are clear issues for this very vulnerable group.

‘The Education of Young People in Public Care’ DfES/DH 2000 and updated in 2005 stresses the need for local authorities to act corporately and advocate on behalf of these children.  As corporate parents we are charged to provide the children in our care with ‘the education they deserve and…to do at least what any good parent would do’ to improve their educational outcomes.

What are our aims?

To promote good corporate parenting across the county council by implementing the statutory elements of the Guidance and the outcomes of “Every Child Matters,”

  • There must be a Designated Teacher for children in care in every school.
  • Every school age child in care must have a Personal Education Plan.
  • No care placements are to be made without education secured.
  • No child in care must be without educational provision for more than 20 school days.
  • To support Early Years and Post 16 settings, schools, social workers and foster carers in raising the attainment of all Buckinghamshire’s children in care and in doing so,
  • To promote their educational and social inclusion.

How can we help?

Through effective communication, early intervention and liaison with all relevant services we will offer practical support to implement:-

  • Effective training and advice for education and social care staff.
  • Efficient tracking and monitoring of the children’s educational needs, provision and achievements.
  • Successful partnership work for individual children at risk of exclusion, underachievement or without a school place.

How are referrals made?

The Virtual school tracks and identifies children at risk and needing support via a number of procedures including,

  • Personal Education Plans (PEPs).
  • Termly attendance and attainment information.
  • Teacher/social worker ‘Alert’ proforma.
  • Social care lists of children in care.
  • RIG (Reintegration Group).
  • Network links with relevant agencies/services.

Please note, the majority of the team works term time only; some members are also part-time. 

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