The role of Virtual School Heads and designated teachers in schools has extended to certain previously looked-after children as they continue to experience educational challenges after leaving care.

Who is considered a "previously looked after child"?

Previously looked-after children are those who:

  • are no longer looked after by a local authority in England and Wales because they are the subject of an adoption, special guardianship or child arrangements order; and
  • were adopted from 'state care' outside England and Wales. 'State care' is care provided by a public authority, a religious organisation, or any other organisation whose sole or main purpose is to benefit society."

Who is eligible for support from the Virtual School?

The Virtual School is able to promote the educational achievement of previously looked after children to anyone the Virtual School Head (VSH) considers appropriate. This will usually be the parents and educators of previously looked after children from the point at which they become eligible for free early education up to the end of Year 11 when aged 16, provided they are on roll to an education setting in Leicestershire, no matter where they live.

What support does the Virtual School offer?

The Virtual School must:

  • respond to parental requests for advice and information – e.g. advice on school admissions in their area. Where appropriate, the VSH should sign-post parents to other services that can offer advice and support;
  • respond to requests for advice and information from providers of early education, designated teachers in maintained schools and academies, and providers of alternative provision in their area in respect of individual children supported by the local authority. In particular, the VSH should develop a good working relationship with designated teachers for previously looked-after children in their area; and
  • make general advice and information available to early years settings and schools to improve awareness of the vulnerability and needs of previously looked-after children. This should include promoting good practice on identifying and meeting their needs, and guidance on effective use of the Pupil Premium Plus.

How to contact the Leicestershire Virtual School support

If you need to contact the Leicestershire Virtual School please email us at virtualschool@leics.gov.uk, or call us on 0116 305 6097.

Our office hours are:

  • Monday to Thursday - 8:30am to 5:00pm
  • Friday - 8:30am to 4:30pm

We are open all year round (excluding bank holidays), including during school holidays. We aim to respond to any emails within 3 working days.

Useful links

Leicestershire Post adoption support – Tel: 0116 3053051

FAQ

If the information you seek is not available here, and your child is educated in Leicestershire, please contact the Leicestershire Virtual School.

Is my child eligible for Pupil Premium Plus?

PAC-UK's Education Service has put together this useful guide, clearly setting out eligibility criteria, how funding can be accessed, what it can be used for and other vital information for adoptive parents and other permanent carers as well school staff and social workers.

http://www.pac-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Pupil-Premium-Plus-Guide-booklet-V1.3.pdf

Who decides how the Pupil Premium Plus funding is spent?

It is up to the school to decide how to spend Pupil Premium Plus money. The DfE has stated that it is good practice to consult parents and guardians when deciding what to use it for. Some schools are consulting with individual parents and guardians, while others have invited adopters and special guardians to group consultations or task groups about how to spend the funding. Schools must act transparently and publish details of their pupil premium spending on their websites.

We strongly recommend that schools separate their pupil premium and pupil premium plus spending in these breakdowns, since the needs of the two groups are different.

There are concerns about my child’s behaviour at school, what support can school access?

Parents can contact the Virtual School to seek advice and telephone support. This can include advocacy and contact with the school. Training is also offered to schools and Designated Teachers on Pupil Premium Plus spending, Educational Psychologist input and SEN processes. The Virtual School can also signpost to CAMHS Post Adoption Support, Oakfield Short Stay School outreach and processes for accessing Inclusion Partnership support.

What can my child’s school put in place to support my child?

The Virtual School offers all Leicestershire schools whole staff training on attachment and trauma and advises schools on attachment friendly strategies such as;

  • key adult
  • safe space
  • preparation and support for transition and change
  • emotional literacy support including emotion coaching and wondering aloud
  • strategies to support Executive Functioning skills
  • targeted use of Pupil Premium Plus,
  • use of Boxall Profile and SDQs to track and monitor progress for emotional well being

How can I prepare my child for moving to a new school or starting school?

Transitions and change can be very difficult for adopted children and planning needs to be in place prior to these changes.

Follow the link to this help sheet created by PAC:

http://www.pac-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Goodbyes-and-Transitions-V1.1-1.pdf

How can I choose the best school for my child?

It may be useful to seek advice from the Virtual School regarding attachment friendly schools in Leicestershire. Information in the PAC publications below will also help with questions you may want to ask schools:

Primary Schools:

http://www.pac-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Key-Questions-for-Primary-Schools-V1.2-1.pdf

Secondary Schools -

http://www.pac-uk.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Key-Questions-for-Secondary-Schools-V1.2-1.pdf

Is there any training available for adopters?

The Virtual School offers a range of training to schools and adopters. The Virtual School Training Booklet contains information on all our current courses.

What if there are no spaces at my chosen school?

Your local authority has a school admissions department and they are responsible for ensuring your child gets a school place. Since September 2013, Looked After Children (LAC) and children who left UK care on an Adoption Order, Special Guardianship Order or Child Arrangements Order (formerly Residence Order) have the highest priority. The authority which placed your child can provide a letter confirming your child's status.

The admissions code states:

1.7 All schools must have oversubscription criteria for each 'relevant age group' and the highest priority must be given, unless otherwise provided in this Code, to looked after children and all previously looked after children. Previously looked after children are children who were looked after, but ceased to be so because they were adopted (or became subject to a child arrangements order or special guardianship order) … immediately following having been looked after. Oversubscription criteria must then be applied to all other applicants in the order set out in the arrangements.

For the full admissions code follow the link:

My child has been excluded, what can I do?

Contact the Virtual School for telephone advice. If your child is a primary aged pupil, check that school has already consulted the Oakfield Behaviour forums or, for Secondary pupils, the local Inclusion Partnership.

The full exclusion guidance can be found by clicking on the link below: