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About the virtual school for looked after children

Key principles

There are 4 main priorities for the Virtual School Middlesbrough.

  • Raise attainment and accelerate progress for looked after children (LAC) and young people across all key stages;
  • Improve school attendance and reduce exclusion;
  • Improve the quality of Personal Education Plans and;
  • Support school leadership to enhance a shared objective of improving life opportunities through education


The service works across all key stages, in mainstream schools, Pupil Referral Units, children's homes, and foster homes that have LAC needing extra support. Using a multi-agency approach, staff work closely with social workers, foster parents, designated teachers, the education psychology service and other relevant agencies.

The virtual school for looked after children:

  1. Provides advocacy, support and advice on educational issues relating to LAC
  2. Maintains of the education database, including information on attendance and attainment
  3. Offers training on, and dissemination of information about, the educational needs of LAC
  4. Monitors the effectiveness of Personal Education Plans (PEPS)
  5. Provides advocacy support for exclusions, admissions, appeals and child care reviews
  6. Provides additional education packages to support individual need
  7. Monitors the academic progress of all LAC

Statutory requirements

The Children Act 1989

The 1989 Act places an obligation on local authorities to promote the educational achievement of Looked After Children. The authority must give particular attention to the educational implications of any decision about the welfare of a looked after child. (The duty to promote educational achievement does not apply to children receiving short breaks, as in those cases the responsibility rests with the parent (regulation 42). 'Looked after' is a legal term which applies to children who are in the care of the Local Authority (LA). There are two main types of looked after children:

  • The child’s parents may agree that the child goes into care or the child requests to go into care. This is often referred to a 'Section 20'.
  • The child may be legally removed from their parents without the parents’ consent. This is when the court has concluded that a child could be harmed if they stay at home. This is referred to as a 'Care Order or Section 31'.

The Local Authority has a statutory duty to look after the child – this includes ensuring they receive the best education possible. The Local Authority assumes the role of 'corporate parent'. This responsibility is held by every adult employed by the Local Authority including those who work in schools.


Virtual School office
Phone: 01642 201885

Victoria Banks
Virtual School Head
Phone: 01642 727879