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Education for Children in Care – The Virtual School
If you're in care, we will support you to keep going to the same school but, if you do change school, you will be helped to settle in to your new school.
The virtual school is a team of teachers. advisers & professionals who work with nurseries, schools, colleges, trainers and employers to make sure you get the best education or training possible.
The headteacher of the virtual school will make sure that your head teacher and the staff in your school are giving you the support that you need with your education.
Your school will have what’s called a ‘designated teacher’ – a teacher who knows about being in care and what it means. They understand that you might feel confused and unsettled, so they’re not just there to make sure you do as well as you can with your work and activities. You can also talk to them if being in care is making school hard for you.
Your own teacher and the head teacher will know you’re in care, but won’t tell anybody else unless they need to know so they can help you.
If you’re not sure what to tell people at school about being in care, your social worker and your designated teacher can help you work out what to say if you like.
The virtual school team
- Headteacher - Simon Lennox
- Acting Quality manager – Michelle Quansah
- Education officers -, Liz McEntee, Jo Quinn
- Education & Employment adviser - Keeley Gilmore
- Education & Employment support officer - Jenny Abbott
- Virtual school support officer - Alison Waters
Your personal education plan
All children in care get a personal education plan – a PEP for short. PEPs are special plans to help you do well in your school work and enjoy your time at school. Your designated teacher will work out with you what should go in your PEP – they’ll give you a booklet to help you understand and arrange a meeting.
Your social worker, carer or parent will be invited to the meeting too, but the most important person there will be you. You can help to decide what you want to achieve in each school year, so you will have a PEP meeting after the summer holidays. Meetings will then take place each term, so we can check that you're getting the support you need.
What does the virtual school do?
For all Warrington children in care, we aim to:
- Raise their educational attainment and close the gap between them and their peers. This includes effective and appropriate use of the pupil premium plus.
- Ensure that they make at least expected levels of progress and try to accelerate their progress to ensure that each young person achieves their full potential.
- Ensure that they have an up to date effective Personal Education Plan (PEP) that tracks their progress and provides the support required to enable them to reach their academic targets.
- Improve their overall attendance and reduce rates of persistent absence.
- Reduce the number of exclusions, both fixed term and permanent, and to ensure that those young people who are excluded receive at least their statutory entitlement to support and re-integration during this period.
- Ensure that each young person is attending the school that is most appropriate to meeting their needs. In addition, wherever possible, to attend a school that has been categorised by Ofsted as providing a good or better education.
- Minimise, and where possible, remove social, emotional, behavioral and attachment factors that may prove to be barriers to accessing the curriculum.
- Improve continued participation in education, employment and training opportunities for care leavers.
- Promote equality of opportunity.
- Ensure that their views are fully considered in decision-making and inform developments in relation to service provision and delivery.
This means that we:
- Track their attendance, attainment and progress.
- Provide good quality data to support the work of the LA in promoting the educational achievements of children in care.
- Monitor and quality assure the completion of PEPs.
- Manage, monitor and quality assure the use of the pupil premium plus so that it improves the educational outcomes of each individual child in care.
- Provide appropriate individual support packages for identified children in care who are not performing in line with their predicted progress, through a variety of interventions.
- Provide training, support and guidance to a range of professionals working with children in care, in particular, Designated Teachers, Governors, social workers, foster carers and other professionals.
- Get involved when things go wrong, by offering support, advice and guidance.
- Challenge schools who are not meeting the needs of children in care.
- Challenge care-planning decisions that do not appropriately meet the educational needs of the children in care.
- Celebrate the successes and achievements of our children in care.
In addition to this we also provide:
- 1:1 sessions provided by the Virtual School Education Officers
- 1:1 tuition on a variety of subjects provided by qualified tutors
- Literacy and numeracy support for any identified young person regardless of curriculum year
- A termly book club to encourage and promote reading, both for pleasure and to help young people in school
- Aspirational programmes linked to post 16 and higher educational opportunities
My Life Warrington, Ask Ollie & Youth Café - websites by Warrington Council for services in Warrington.
LiveWire - Leisure and library services in Warrington
Warrington Youth Club
General Support for learning
- BBC Bitesize - activities and support for a range of topics aimed at different levels
- Oxford owl - Maths and Literacy resources including worksheets and eBooks
Literacy / English Support
- Jolly Phonics - support and free resources for learning phonics including videos for phonics and jolly phonics actions
- BookTrust - supporting reading from early years to secondary school
Numeracy / Maths Support
- Maths is Fun - explanations for a range of numeracy / maths topics with games and worksheet
Getting involved – youth organisations
Having your voice heard
When you come into care, it can feel as if lots of people who hardly know you are choosing where you live, who you see, what you do at school and lots of other things.
- they must make sure that they find out what you think and feel about the choices they make
- they must make those choices in your best interest
- they must really believe they're doing what's best for you
If you feel that nobody's listening to you, the National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) can help.
You can visit nyas.net or call their helpline on 0808 808 1001.