Virtual School - Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Personal Education Plan?

A Personal Education Plan (PEP) is a document describing a course of action to help a child or young person reach his/her full academic and life potential.

The PEP should be put together and be completed at a meeting in which the designated teacher, social worker and carers for the young person in public care are present.  The child or young person should also be part of their education planning, either at the PEP meeting itself or through discussions outside that meeting.

Although it is not possible for the Virtual School Education Support Workers to attend all the PEP meetings for those in the care of North Yorkshire County Council it will be very helpful if Social Workers and Designated Teachers when co-ordinating the PEP meeting, invite them.

Can the Personal Education Plan and the Looked After Child review be run together?

Yes.  It makes sense to run an Education Health Care Plan (EHCP) review together with a PEP meeting and/or a LAC review once a year at least.  This would save time, finance and paperwork.  There is a simplified (one-sided) PEP form to sit alongside the EHCP, reducing duplication of information.  Good practice would be to send all documentation to the Independent Reviewing Officer two weeks in advance of the LAC Reviews.

Whose responsibility is the Personal Education Plan?

When a child becomes Looked After, the social worker should inform the LA and school. The Social Worker is responsible for initiating the PEP in partnership with:

  • The young person
  • Designated teacher at the school
  • Parent or relevant family member
  • Carer
  • Any other relevant agency involved including the  Virtual School

The Social Worker initiating the PEP will represent the Local Authority who initially took the care order out.

Can a Headteacher exclude a Looked After Child from school?

Yes - however, the exclusion of Look After Children should be an absolute last resort. No Looked After Child should be excluded from a school/Pupil Referral Unit without a discussion with the Local Authority and first day provision should be put in place.

When a Headteacher makes a decision to excluded a child they must have regard to the Department of Education Guidance on Exclusion, which talks about exclusion from school and the disproportionately high rate of exclusions for certain children including those who are looked after by the Local Authority.

Where a school has concerns about the behaviour, or risk of exclusion, of a child with additional needs, a pupil with a statement of SEN or a looked after child it should, in partnership with others (including the local authority as necessary), consider what additional support or alternative placement may be required.

There is a duty for Governors and the Local Authority to work together with regard to provision.  It is important for schools to help minimise the disruption that exclusion can cause to an excluded pupil's education. Whilst the statutory duty on governing bodies or local authorities is to provide full-time education from the sixth day of an exclusion, there is an obvious benefit in starting this provision as soon as possible. In particular, in the case of a looked after child, schools and local authorities should work together to arrange alternative provision from the first day following the exclusion.

If a school is considering an exclusion, they should contact the LA so that they may look to see if there is any support available from them to help with 1st day provision.

For a discussion regarding exclusion guidance please contact the Virtual School Head on 01609 532169  or Angela Calvert on 01609 532094.

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How do you celebrate the achievements and attainment of LAC?

A child's educational and other achievements should always be acknowledged.  Whether from PEP's school-based meetings or after exams, the Virtual School strives to ensure that the hard work and commitment made by the Children in our Care (CiC) is celebrated.

The Virtual School holds monthly Resource Panel meetings, where applications to support CiC are considered.  Vouchers are also awarded at the end of Year 11, with amounts varying dependent upon the level of achievement.

The Virtual School host an annual Graduation Ceremony for CiC and Care Leavers to mark the successful completion of their Secondary, Post 16 or University courses.  Awards are presented in the Grand Committee Room at County Hall followed by a celebratory meal at a local hotel.  The young people are able to invite a guest of their choice and will receive photographs of the day.

What financial support does a former Looked After Child get when going to University?

This information is available from the Virtual School Head or members of CSC Leaving Care Team and is reviewed annually. (01609 532169).

What if a Looked After Child at a North Yorkshire school is cared for by a Local Authority other than North Yorkshire?

A Social Worker will be allocated to the child from the home Local Authority. We will share information as necessary to ensure the education needs of those who move across boarders are met. If schools are having difficulty contacting Social Workers or the Virtual School Head of another Local Authority please contact the Virtual School Head in North Yorkshire who will liaise and clarify arrangements.

What is the role of a Designated Teacher of a Looked After Child?

From 1 September 2009 the Governing Bodies of all maintained schools were required under the Children and Young Persons Act 2008 to appoint a Designated Teacher to promote the educational achievement of Looked After Children on the school roll.

The Designated Teacher has a leadership role in promoting the educational achievement of every Child in Care on the school's roll, developing the Personal Education Plan, advising others within school on appropriate strategies to assist learning, building relationships with others beyond school and reporting progress to the school Governing Body refer to Department For Education website.

Do you know who the Designated Teacher is at the school your foster child attends?

The Designated Teacher should make a positive difference by promoting the needs of every Child in Care matters and ensuring their personal, emotional and academic needs are prioritised. The role of the Designated Teacher includes:

  • Taking the lead responsibility for helping school staff understand the difficulties affecting Children in Care and how positive systems of support can help to overcome them.

  • Acting as an advocate for Children in Care

  • Developing and monitoring systems for liaising with carers, social workers, health professionals and the Virtual School

  • Monitoring the educational progress, attainment and attendance of all Children in Care

  • Intervening if there is evidence of individual under-achievement or absence from school

  • Liaising with the member of staff responsible for monitoring children on the Child Protection Register, ensuring all Children in Care in school are safeguarded

  • Making sure that Children in Care are prioritised in one-to-one tuition arrangements and that carers understand the importance of supporting learning at home

  • Taking lead responsibility for the development.

Who do I contact to ask for extra educational support?

For a Looked After Child in the care of North Yorkshire contact one of our Education Support Workers (ESW).  For a Looked After Child in the care of another Authority contact the Virtual School Head in that Local Authority.

For further guidance on admissions or avoiding exclusions contact the Virtual School Head on 01609 532169 from the North Yorkshire Virtual School.

How is the Virtual School structured?

The Virtual School is made up of 12 members of staff:

Head teacher. The Head teacher oversees all facets of LAC education and works strategically with senior managers from Education, Children Social Care and Health. This includes working closely with the Multi Agency Looked After Partnership (MALAP) and the LAC Members Group. The Head teacher liaises closely with Head teachers within North Yorkshire and Head teachers of Virtual School in other Authorities.

Assistant Head teacher. The Assistant Headteacher has operational management of staff deployment; case work supervision and oversight of training programmes; and is the lead for residential visits.

Strategic and operational work is regularly considered by the School Senior Leadership Team (SLT).

Education Support Workers - Education Support Workers oversee all North Yorkshire LAC (both in and out of county).

Education Support Worker is an advisory role ensuring that the educational attainment of LAC is closely monitored. This is achieved by:

  • Aiming to attend ALL initial Personal Education Plan meetings.
  • Attending any PEP meetings where there are areas of concern.
  • Assessing and addressing any identified additional support needs.
  • Scrutinising the quality of information contained in the PEPs.

Youth Mentors - Youth Mentors hold a caseload and provide one to one support for Looked After Children. Young people are referred to work with a Youth Mentor if there are significant barriers to them accessing education successfully. Youth Mentors intervene to support young people using a variety of strategies to address issues such as the following:

  • Anger management/conflict resolution.
  • Supporting Foster Carers around behaviour management and school attendance.
  • Advocate for LAC.
  • Drug and alcohol issues.
  • Supporting individual education programmes.
  • Stress management.
  • Peer relationships/Social skills.
  • Life skills/Self esteem/awareness.
  • Sexual health advice

Teaching / HLTA Staff - These are education intervention roles, however due to the vulnerability of these children and young people work undertaken has an holistic approach. Intervention and support varies depending on the young person. Individual action plans are designed to effectively meet needs and adapted to accommodate day to day issues. Teaching staff work in all education settings and in the care placement when required.

What we do:

  • 1:1 coursework/revision booster sessions for GCSEs and important year assessments (Yrs, 2, 6, 9, 10/11).
  • Specialist support during Key Stage transition; re-integration; periods of exclusions; foster placement breakdown.
  • Small group work eg Y6 transitions projects.
  • Task focus or curriculum based subject support.
  • Formative and summative assessments.
  • Alternative accreditation support and enhancing other education provision for example.
  • Arts Award and Food Safety and Hygiene.
  • Strategy development and capacity building within mainstream
  • Teaching professionals.

1 Administrator. Supports the team and is the first point of contact for enquiries.