Virtual School


This chapter applies to all Children Looked After. It should be read in conjunction with the government guidance documents and related chapters.

Note that different provisions apply to children who acquire Looked After status as a result of a remand to local authority accommodation or Youth Detention Accommodation. In relation to those children, please see Remands to Local Authority Accommodation or to Youth Detention Accommodation Procedure, Care Planning for Young People on Remand


DfE, Promoting the Education of Looked After and Previously Children Looked After

DfE and DHSC, Special educational needs and disability code of practice 0 to 25 years- Statutory guidance for organisations who work with and support children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (2015)


This chapter was reviewed locally in June 2020.

1. The Virtual School

The Children and Families Act 2014 requires that all local authorities in England to appoint a Virtual School Headteacher (VSH) to promote the educational achievement of its Children Looked After (CLA). The VSH is the lead responsible officer for ensuring that arrangements are in place to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of the authority's CLA, including those placed outside the caring authority's boundaries.

The Virtual School, which the Education Support Team are a part of, take the lead role in promoting higher educational attainment and progress for all Knowsley Children Looked After and Care Leavers (CLA pupils).

1.1 The Role of the Virtual School is:

  • To ensure that CLA pupils are considered as a priority in all Knowsley policies and practices that affect their lives;
  • To oversee the local authority arrangements for CLA pupils ensuring that Heads and Designated Teachers fulfil their responsibilities;
  • To ensure that all CLA pupils have an up to date and effective Personal Education Plan (PEP) that addresses each child's individual educational needs. Ensure that the Pupil Premium Funding for CLA pupils is used for the individual needs of each child as described in their PEP;
  • To monitor the educational progress of all CLA pupils and to provide reports to the Corporate Parenting Board;
  • To maintain an up to date register of CLA pupils, including details of their educational placement and their educational achievement.

1.2 The Key Responsibilities of the Virtual School

The Virtual School is responsible for all school aged CLA by Knowsley, wherever they are educated.

The purpose of the Virtual School is to:

  • Offer advice and guidance on educational matters to children and young people, their parents, carers, schools and social workers;
  • To monitor educational provision, attainment, attendance and exclusions and report on overall outcomes for each area;
  • To provide training for carers, school staff and social workers;
  • Respond to those young people at risk of receiving exclusions or experiencing difficulties with education;
  • Monitor the completion of Personal Education Plans and quality assure the documents;
  • Negotiate, liaise and support school changes;
  • Reward individual success;
  • Facilitate effective liaison between agencies, social care, carers and schools;
  • Maintain up to date records of children considered to be looked after, their school and all relevant educational information.

The team does its best to make learning an enjoyable and rewarding experience by providing the support that children and young people need to get the best outcomes possible from their education.

Any professional who works to support CLA can liaise directly with members of the Virtual School, who will be able to offer advice and guidance on matters relating to education. The Virtual School team are located within Children's Social Care Teams (second floor, Nutgrove Villa). Contact details:

2. Support for Post 16 Education and Training

The role of the Employability Officer is to:

  • Liaise with the Virtual School to ensure all relevant information is gathered on all Year 11's to assist with their transition into post 16 provision;
  • Offer advice and guidance on Further/ Higher Education, Training and Employment to all young people which will assist them to make informed appropriate choices;
  • Assist young people to claim their entitlement to 16-19 Bursaries when attending Further Education and to liaise with Further Education establishments to ensure the bursary is paid appropriately and on time;
  • Have robust working links with all Colleges / Training Providers to ensure maximum support is offered to all the young people attending;
  • Communicate appropriately with the young person's Social Worker, Personal Adviser and Carer to identify and resolve any barriers in attending employment or training;
  • Ensure all young people are fully aware and understand their entitlement to benefits depending on their circumstances and support the young person to complete all the relevant documentation to apply. Liaise with the Social Worker or Personal Adviser to support the young person in their transition to becoming financially independent;
  • Establish a working protocol in partnership with Department of Work and Pensions to ensure support is available for young people claiming benefits;
  • Liaise with the 14-19 Team to ensure that young people with an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) are fully supported to reach their full potential;
  • To assist The Young Persons Team and 14-19 Team maintaining up to date records on all young people with details of their training or employment destinations;
  • To continue and strengthen collaborative working with partner and outside agencies to improve the outcomes for young people;
  • To provide guidance to Social Workers and Personal Advisers on local labour market knowledge, employability and benefits to enhance the support given to the young people.