About the Virtual School
The Virtual School exists to help looked after children (LAC) and previously looked-after children 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.
Schools may wish to adopt and adapt the Model School Policy for Care Experienced Children in Herefordshire.
Designated teachers may wish to use the template to provide an annual report to their governing bodies.
LAC Pupil Premium
Children who are looked after by Herefordshire Council receive LAC 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.
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:
- Herefordshire SEEdS (social, emotional and educational support) project leaflet
- Foster Carer Consultations (FCC) part of Herefordshire SEEdS project
- Personal Education Plan plus PEP+ guidance for parents, carers and professionals
- Video interaction guidance for children and carers in Herefordshire
- Request for SEEdS project involvement