The Virtual School for Looked After Children ensures that all children and young people currently, or previously, in the care of Waltham Forest Council have the best possible opportunities in school and receive the support they need to achieve their potential.
The Virtual School works closely with Waltham Forest Social Services and together we promote the education achievement of the children and young people currently or previously in our care. Our duties are outlined in the following statutory guidance.
The Virtual School is responsible for improving the educational attainment of all children and young people in the care of Waltham Forest, including those who live and attend schools in other Local Authorities.
Our 'pupils' will already be placed in a mainstream school, or sometimes a specialist provision, but additionally they will be on the roll of the Virtual School. The Virtual School has staff just like a 'real' school and it treats its pupils as though they were in one school by tracking their progress and providing support and interventions through a targeted approach.
In this way, our children are provided with an additional layer of specialist support complementing what is already happening in school. Our success comes through close working with our partners - schools, designated teachers, social workers, carers, local authority staff, health and other professional organisations; the involvement of Councillors in their role as corporate parents and, of course, children and young people.
The Virtual School works to ensure that schools, social workers, carers and other professionals understand statutory responsibilities and are aware of best practice around the education of children in care. Communication about our children should be regular and constructive and demonstrate that we are all working together successfully to help them thrive.
Many individual children and young people in care enjoy and do well at school. However, as a group, children in care do not perform as well in their education as their peers.
Since April 2014, every local authority in England has had to appoint at least one person to fulfil the local authority's statutory duty to promote the educational achievement of its children in care, wherever they live or are educated.
Within the local authority, the Virtual School Head is the statutory lead with responsibility for ensuring that arrangements are in place to improve educational experiences and outcomes.
Further research on the impact being in care has on education was undertaken by the Rees Foundation in 2015.