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Virtual school for looked after children

About the Virtual School Middlesbrough

The Virtual School Middlesbrough (VSM) is responsible for improving educational outcomes for:

  • looked after children
  • previously looked after children
  • children with a social worker

The virtual school does not teach children. We bring together information about the children and young people we care for as if they were in a single school. This lets us track pupils' progress, and make sure they're getting the help and support they need.

We work with partners to encourage high expectations for our children and young people, and remove barriers to educational progress and achievement.

The work of all virtual schools is based on Department of Education guidance on promoting the education of looked-after children. This guidance sets out duties and responsibilities towards each group of children.

Children placed in Middlesbrough schools by other councils are the responsibility of that council's Virtual School Head. However we will support colleagues with local information and signposting.

What we do

  1. We promote the educational needs of the children and young people we look after.
  2. We make sure that our children and young people aim for educational achievement. Making this a priority in their lives helps to improve their life chances.
  3. We make sure our children and young people have the best possible education, and are given the chance to progress and reach their potential.
  4. We review personalised support plans to help increase the achievement of our children and young people. We also provide advice, guidance, and support with interventions, when these are needed.

We can offer

The virtual school offers:

  • training for designated teachers, school governors, social workers, foster carers, and partner agencies
  • advice, information, and guidance on all aspects of education for looked after children and young people
  • support for children and young people with their education, future pathways, and work experience

Extended duties for children with a social worker

Since 2021, Virtual School Heads (VSH) have been responsible for promoting the educational achievement of children with a social worker. A VSH's experience working with looked-after and previously looked-after children is valuable in understanding the disadvantages and barriers faced by children with a social worker.

The guidance on promoting the education of children with a social worker explains:

  • which children are included
  • what the extended role involves
  • how to work with education settings to support children

Virtual schools do not have to provide direct help or support for individual children with a social worker, or their families. There are no changes to the existing duties for looked-after and previously looked-after children. The new guidance should be read in conjunction with guidance on promoting the education of looked after children.