Virtual School

The Virtual School is responsible for liaising and working in partnership with agencies to support the education of looked after/vulnerable children. Mr Balwant Bains is the Head teacher of the Virtual school for Looked After/Vulnerable Children and leads on strategic planning and developments, policy, new initiatives and service delivery.

The Virtual School for Looked After Children is not a teaching institution.  It is “a model by which the LA provides services and support for the education of looked after children and a constructive challenge to those providing the services”.  It works closely and in partnership with Schools, Health, Information, Advice and Guidance (Youth Support Connexions Service) and Social Care so that there is a holistic and comprehensive approach to the support of Looked After Children in all areas of their lives.

Our overall aim is to help produce better educational outcomes, and enhanced personal and social development, so that our looked after children have better life chances.

Our specific objectives which together will help us achieve this aim are reflected by the targets that we set ourselves each year, i.e. seeking continuous improvement in the number of looked after students who:

  • Achieve level 4 at KS2 in each core subject
  • Are entered for public examinations and SATs
  • Achieve 5+ A – C grades including Maths and English at GCSE or equivalent
  • Achieve 5+ A – C grades at GCSE or equivalent
  • Achieve 1+ A – G grades at GCSE or equivalent
  • Make progress between Key Stages in terms of two and three levels
  • Achieve their targets as indicated by FFT
  •  Have less than 52 sessions absence during 5 half terms.
  •  Are in education, employment or training in the September following their sixteenth birthday

We will also seek to:

  • Reduce the number of days looked after students are excluded, fixed term and permanent, and ensure that excluded students receive alternative provision from day one
  • Have objective evidence that:
  • there is increasing student involvement in extra curricular and extension activities
  • Special Educational Needs are being met and appropriate interventions are implemented and reviewed in terms of the graduated response
  • fewer students do not have a school place at any one time
  • the average time taken to secure a school place for a child is being reduced
  • the average number of school days missed per term by children is falling
  • the average number of school moves in any 12 week period is being reduced
  • the number of children who have an up to date PEP or PEP review is increasing.

Key Workers at the Virtual School

We currently have 3 Key Workers at the Virtual School.

The role of the key worker is as follows:

  • To  work with schools to raise the educational attainment and aspirations of  Looked After Children
  • To promote and support positive participation in enrichment activities
  • To be a key point of contact for students and develop a working relationship to ensure progression.
  • To provide in-class support for specific students if agreed through consultation and subject to a Service Level Agreement.
  • To provide additional support for parents/carers in appropriate cases.
  • To work with staff and partner agencies to ensure that a holistic approach is adopted to support C&YP

Lorraine Thompson (Deputy Manager) has an over view of young people placed in schools outside of Walsall and attendance / data of all looked after children.  She also works with schools where looked after children are at risk of exclusion, school moves via the mid – year admissions process and is the key link with social workers.

Helen Hardwick (Curriculum Manager) monitors the attainment of all Looked after Children, advises on SEN issues and works closely with schools to support the educational achievement of Looked after Children.

  • The Head Teacher of The Virtual School For Looked After/Vulnerable Children is Balwant Bains who can be contacted on 01922 686230

Information, Advice and Guidance

Youth Support Connexions Service provides a part time Personal Adviser who offers information, advice and guidance (IAG) to Looked after Children while they are in compulsory education. (A similar service is provided to the post 16 age group by staff based with the Transition and Leaving Care team).

The service offers consistent, confidential and impartial 1:1 support with a primary focus on progressing young people into post 16 education and training and ensuring that they gain the skills to enter sustainable employment.

For further information please contact Carla Rogers:

Traveller Education Support Service Team (TESST)

The Traveller Education Support Service Team (TESST) is part of the Virtual School arrangement. TESST provides advice on how to maximise outcomes for pupils from the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. Our overall aim is to support schools to raise attainment, attendance, ascription, achievement and aspirations for Gypsy, Roma and Traveller pupils.   – 01922 686230