Virtual School

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What is the Virtual School for Looked After Children (LAC)?

The Virtual School is a team of dedicated education professionals who work to support the educational needs of Derby City LAC. Our team consists of a Head Teacher, 2 Specialist Education Officers, a Lead Designated Teacher and a Project Support Administrator.

Contact us

Head Teacher of the Virtual School Graeme Ferguson 01332 640362
Specialist Education Officer for LAC Kate Harm 01332 641439
Specialist Education Officer for LAC Catherine Ward 01332 640346
Project Support Administrator Liz Williams 01332 640342
Lead Designated Teacher Sarah Parkman 07794 458565

What Does the Virtual School Do?

As part of the local authority’s corporate parenting responsibilities the Virtual School team’s role is to champion the educational needs of our young people to achieve the best outcomes they can. To do this, we work closely with schools, carers, social workers, health and education professionals. 

This involves:

  • quality assuring Personal Education Plans (PEPs)
  • monitoring progress, attainment and attendance
  • allocating Pupil Premium Plus funding
  • planning targeted interventions and celebrating achievements
  • supporting our young people and the professionals around them
  • support at specific times:
    • transfer to primary or secondary, moving schools
    • exclusions 
    • sourcing appropriate support for any special educational needs.

What are Personal Education Plans? (PEPs)

Personal Education Plans are part of the statutory care plans for LAC and are a legal requirement. In Derby we have developed an electronic version of the PEP which can be accessed securely online through Welfare Call.

The Designated Teacher for Children in Care at the child’s school, and the Social Worker, have access to the e-PEP on Welfare Call extranet.

A PEP is a meeting usually held at the school and includes:

  • the young person
  • the child’s social worker
  • a representative from the school
  • the carer 
  • Virtual School Specialist Education Officer if required

The PEP meeting is to make sure that everything is in place for the young person to achieve the educational outcomes of which they are capable. During the PEP, targets are set and the school can apply for Pupil Premium Plus to support the achievement of these targets.

If you haven't completed a PEP before, you may find it useful to follow our model ePEP process, PEP agenda and example targets guidance.

What is Pupil Premium Plus and what can it be used for?

Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) is a grant devolved to the Virtual School from the Department for Education. The Virtual School Head Teacher has the responsibility and accountability for the Pupil Premium Plus Policy 2017-18 to benefit Derby City Looked After Children.

Targets set at the PEP that require support or intervention above and beyond what other children in the school receive can be funded through PP+.

In addition to the direct educational support that we offer, the Virtual School also supports wider achievements and learning.

If your LAC has music lessons through the Derby and Derbyshire Music Partnership in school, please ensure that they are accessing their assisted bursary which entitles them to discounted lessons and the loan of a free instrument.

Derby also fund projects that benefit groups of Looked After Children as well as support and training for the professionals that work with them.

Please refer to the Virtual School Pupil Premium Plus policy for guidance.

What is an Early Years PEP and Early Years Pupil Premium Plus?

Early Years Pupil Premium Plus (EYPP+) money will be allocated for children in care who are taking up the free early education entitlement for 3 and 4 year olds.

EYPP+ is £300 per year if taking up the full 570 hours of state-funded early education.

If you have a Derby City LAC that qualifies for EYPP+, please complete the EYPP+ PEP on Welfare Call.

Please see the Early Years Premium Plus Policy 2018-19 for guidance.

Monitoring attendance and exclusions

Welfare Call monitors school attendance and exclusions for Looked After Children who are in Reception Class to Year 11 on behalf of the Virtual School. 

The Virtual School will notify the child’s social worker if the child has been absent from school or if the child has been excluded.

This data assists the tracking patterns of attendance and exclusions and in turn enables us to tackle underachievement where it is linked to poor attendance.

Applying for a School Place for a Looked After Child

Supporting school placement stability

When a child or young person is taken into care, every effort should be made to enable them to remain in their current school to provide them with continuity of learning, friendships and pastoral support from their school.

It is important that the social worker is always closely involved in the application process for any school place, to ensure that the school place being applied for is appropriate and that all of the relevant information about the young person is made available to the new school.

Whenever a school place is being applied for the social worker must always consider the current Ofsted judgement of the school. Statutory guidance states that we should only be placing Looked After Children in schools which have been judged to be good or better.

Consultation with the Virtual School about school moves

If it is thought that a school move is required, the young person’s social worker should always consult with the Virtual School before progressing plans. All school change planning should be recorded within each young person’s PEP.

To find out about the availability of school places in Derby Schools the Social Worker should contact Derby Primary School Admissions or Secondary School admissions.

Transitional Support - additional resources for 2017-18 only

If you admit a Derby City LAC and think they would benefit from additional support to help them settle in their new school, please see our transitional support guidance.

Designated Teacher Network Meetings and CPD Training

The Virtual School provides Designated Teacher Network Meetings once a term. These are held at different school across the city.

We currently offer online training through AC Education to all school staff that support Derby City LAC.  If you would like to access this training then please ask your Designated Teacher to contact 

Derby City Virtual School are currently offering a selection of training courses.  For further information please see the Derby City Virtual School Training Programme Oct - Dec 2017


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