About the Virtual School

The Virtual School exists to help children who are looked after (CLA) and previously looked after do as well as they possibly can in their education.

The term 'previously looked after children' refers to children who have been in the care of an English or Welsh local authority and have ceased to be looked after under a Child Arrangements Order, Special Guardianship Order or Adoption Order.

We work with teachers in schools across Herefordshire (and beyond). We make sure that they have up to date information on children and check that there is appropriate support available.

All looked after children should have a Personal Education Plan (PEP) which should be reviewed on a termly basis. Through the PEP, we monitor progress, highlight gaps and identify interventions to improve outcomes.

The Virtual School offers information and advice via telephone to parents, carers and schools to promote the educational achievement of previously looked after children who attend school within Herefordshire.

In particular, the Virtual School role includes making sure that:

  • Looked after children are admitted promptly to schools and that, once started, they flourish through good attendance and the best academic attainment and progress
  • We know how well looked after children are doing at school and intervening when we see they need extra support, for example for children with special educational needs
  • We work with teachers in schools to give looked after children access to the best possible expertise to help them succeed. Where appropriate we will challenge colleagues to meet the highest expectations for all our looked after children and to address underachievement
  • We take every opportunity to celebrate and highlight the successes of looked after children across Herefordshire
  • We work with fellow professionals and adults to ensure excellent outcomes for looked after children are not jeopardised if things are difficult. This includes where a child might be at risk of exclusion or if a school move is necessary for whatever reason

Information for designated teachers for looked after and previously looked after children

All schools must have a designated teacher for looked after and previously looked after children. The Virtual School provides training and support to enable the designated teachers to carry out their role.

View the statutory guidance for designated teachers

Designated teachers may wish to use the template to provide an annual report to their governing bodies.

CLA Pupil Premium

Children who are looked after by Herefordshire Council receive CLA Pupil Premium. The conditions of grant state that the Virtual School Headteacher must manage the Pupil Premium, including devolving this funding to schools as appropriate. Schools must detail in the Personal Education Plan how they will use the Pupil Premium to benefit the individual looked after child.

Previously looked after children are also eligible for Pupil Premium funding.

This is paid directly to schools and is not distributed by the Virtual School.

View the:

Training for school staff

The Virtual School offers a range of training free to schools in Herefordshire.

View the 2023-24 training timetable and further information

Virtual School - sports and arts events 2023-24

View the 2023-24 programme of sports and arts events

Contact the Virtual School sports and arts ambassadors for more information:

Education Adviser for Children Previously Looked After

We have a dedicated Education Adviser who is able to offer advice, support and guidance to schools, parents/carers and professionals around improving the educational outcomes of Children Previously Looked After.

Our aim is to empower parents and carers of Children Previously Looked After to champion their children and young people in education and to ensure that advice and information is clear, up to date and accessible.

How we can help:

  • Offer advice, training and support to professionals, schools, colleges and families who have a child or young person who was previously looked after.
  • Be part of the final Personal Education Plan (PEP) meeting for each child or young person as they leave care.
  • Work creatively with parents, carers, and schools to help overcome any barriers to successful learning.
  • Champion the use of the children previously looked after support plan to create a partnership agreement between the child/young person, home, school and professionals to ensure effective provision.
  • Support the transitions of children and young people where a change of school takes place and also year to year within a school.
  • Support parents and carers with planning for the education of their children, and to signpost to other sources of support, information and advice.
  • Support children and young people to have a voice in progressing their learning opportunities.


Useful information and further advice

For more information please get in touch with Laura Palmer, Education Adviser for Children Previously Looked After, email laura.palmer@herefordshire.gov.uk or phone 07792 880848.

The SEEdS Project

The Herefordshire SEEdS (Social, Emotional and Educational Support) service is aimed at providing support to the adults who are caring for and supporting children who are looked after by Herefordshire Council.

The project offers a range of services to carers and school staff to support them in managing the needs of the children in their care who may be showing challenging behaviour or other concerns.

View further information and the referral form below:

Virtual School contact details

Telephone: 01432 261584

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