The Children and Social Work Act 2017 extended the role of the Virtual School Head and Designated Teachers to promote the education of previously looked after children. The statutory guidance Gov.uk: Promoting the education of looked-after and previously looked-after children details the additional responsibilities of virtual schools to promote the educational achievement of previously looked after children and comes into force September 2018.
The 2018 guidance defines previously looked after children as those who are no longer looked after by a local authority in England and Wales because of:
- a special guardianship order
- a child arrangements order
The government provides pupil premium plus funding to schools for those previously looked after children identified on the January census. If there is uncertainty about whether a child meets the eligibility criteria, please contact the Virtual School Head. This funding is intended to be used to support schools in improving the educational achievement of previously looked after children. Head teachers identify the best use of the funding to support both individuals and the whole cohort.
Other children who were adopted from 'state care' outside England and Wales are entitled to the advice and support but do not attract Pupil Premium Plus funding. 'State care' is care provided by a public authority, a religious organisation, or any other organisation whose sole or main purpose is to benefit society.
At Durham Virtual School we will:
- Respond to parental/carer/guardian requests for advice and information about education such as on School places and admissions, appropriate and effective use of pupil premium plus, School attendance, Exclusion of pupils, SEND including Durham Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) Information Advice and Support Service, access to therapeutic support, Families Information Service: Local Offer. This may include signposting to the designated teacher and referring to the school complaints procedure.
- Respond to requests for advice and information from schools and other educational settings, including early years provision link to early years provision and alternative provision with regards to individual children and whole school approaches to support previously looked after children.
- Support schools and settings including early years providers with, and signpost to, advice, information and training to increase awareness of the vulnerability and needs of previously looked after children. Provide guidance on the effective use of pupil premium plus.
In line with the new guidance, at Durham Virtual School we will provide advice and guidance to the parent/carer of any previously looked after child who attends a Durham school regardless of where they live or where they were adopted or left care.
As a virtual school, we are not required to monitor the educational progress and achievement of previously looked after children, and are not accountable for this. However, with the agreement of the person with parent responsibility, we may intervene in the education of the child to support them to achieve and make progress.
Durham Virtual School is a team which support schools to support looked after and previously looked after children to be happy at school, to engage with it and to achieve.