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Schools and Colleges

Schools have a key role to play in improving the educational outcomes of looked after children. There is no denying that quality teaching has the greatest impact on outcomes but looked after children need more than this. They need understanding, high aspirations, staff that go the extra mile and organisations that work in partnership.

The Virtual School

All local authorities in England are required to have a Virtual School Head who monitors looked after children as if they were in one school, The Virtual School. The role of the Virtual School Head and The Virtual School varies across authorities but all work with schools to help improve the outcomes of looked after children.

Virtual School Heads can offer advice and guidance to schools and have responsibility for managing and distributing the Pupil Premium Plus for looked after children. Virtual Schools rely on schools providing them with progress data on a regular basis in order to ensure looked after children are on target to achieve to their full potential. It is important that schools have high expectations and set aspirational targets. Early end of key stage outcomes may not reflect the true ability of a looked after child who may have been in a traumatic situation at the time of the assessments and not focused on learning.

The Designated Teacher

All schools must have a designated teacher, who is ideally a member of the senior leadership team. The designated teacher is responsible for championing the educational needs of looked after children in their school and ensuring they have good quality PEPs. They should be the main author and champion of the PEP within the school context. The designated teacher is often the main point of contact for looked after children in schools and they will usually attend care team meetings and reviews. In some larger schools parts of the role may be delegated to a pastoral member of staff such as a head of year or a mentor.

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