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Page last updated: 13/04/2018



News Alerts

New DfE Statutory Guidance for Schools and Local Authorities February 2018

The Government has released the statutory guidance in relation to both children in care and previously looked after children (those adopted from care, or subject to Special Guardianship Order (SGO) or Child Arrangement Order (CAO).

Guidance for Schools - Designated teacher for looked-after and previously looked-after children

Guidance for Local Authorities - Promoting the education of looked-after and previously looked-after children

​​This comes into effect September 2018​

School Census: Previously looked after children and Pupil Premium Grant

​Schools that have children who have previously been in care and are now adopted, subject to a Special Guardianship Order or Child Arrangement Order are eligible to claim the pupil premium. In order to do this the head teacher should invite these parents to self-declare that they have an previously looked after child. Once this has happened the head teacher should request sight of the legal order/certificate. This needs to be indicated on the schools management information system before the January census in order for the school census to be accurate. The funding is sent directly to the school along with the FSM pupil premium. Please note, however, parents are not obliged to declare this information. Please see page 88 of the DfE document School Census 2017-18 for further information.

Schools can also contact the data collection helpline (0333 013 9856 or email​

For those children attending Early Years settings the arrangements are different. Details of how to claim for the Early Years Pupil Premium for adopted children is on the dedicated Early Years website​.

Current Training Opportunities 2017-18 - including summer 2018 Designated Teacher training sessions

Become an Attachment Aware School

We are pleased to confirm 22 May 2018 as the date for the next Attachment Aware Schools training session. However, all places have now been allocated. Please see the flyer ​and complete the booking form​ and return it to​​ to be placed on the reserve list. A second summer term date of 19 June has been arranged. Please complete this booking form and return it to​.

Places on this training are limited and therefore we can only accommodate one delegate from a school.  As this popular course is always oversubscribed can you please let us know as soon as you can if you book a place and then cannot attend.

Further information on attachment can be found on our Attachment page

Designated Teacher Training
Four new dates for summer term 2018 Designated Teacher training have now been released. These sessions will cover the new statutory guidance released in February 2018. Please visit the Designated Teacher​ page for the dates, flyers and booking forms.

Early Years
Please see our Early Years​ section for details of 2017-18 training programmes
Further information is on our Early Years​ page

Mentally Healthy Schools - primary school resource

Mentally Healthy Schools​ brings together quality-assured information, advice and resources to help primary schools understand and promote children’s mental health and wellbeing. Our aim is to increase staff awareness, knowledge and confidence to help you support your pupils.

Dear Colleagues,
On Monday, 26th February, 2018 the DfE published statutory guidance documents for schools and local authorities​ in respect of new legislation in the Children and Social Work Act, 2017.  The statutory guidance comes into force in September, 2018.

​In addition to new responsibilities for Designated Teachers and Virtual School Heads relating to children who have been adopted from care, who have Special Guardianship Orders and those under a Child Arrangement Order, the documents have been substantially changed to ensure that local authorities and school governing bodies have clear guidance on how to meet statutory duties.  Essex Virtual School will provide a new training programme for Designated Teachers to reflect these changes.  Keep an eye out here for our summer term Designated Teacher training events which will soon be scheduled.

New dates for Designated Teacher training, including introduction to the new statutory guidance have now been published and are on the Designated Teacher Training​ page.

Please visit the Attachment page​ for Attachment Aware training - 2 dates for summer 2018 term

Gareth Williams-James

Interim Virtual School Head

Our pages are regularly updated so please pop back periodically to check the latest news and information from the Virtual School.

​Web links​ ​
          Britannica School                CLA Tracker

Further information can be found on our subpages - 

Virtual School Handbook

A new handbook on the Essex Virtual School​​ has been produced.​

The Pledge

The County Council is determined to ensure that Children in Care and care leavers receive the very best chance possible to go on and lead fulfilled and successful adult lives.

Our pledge is a marker to remind everyone how important and special these children and young people are and of the significant responsibility we have.

The Pledge

The Pledge Easy Read version​​

Contacts, structure and strategy

The Essex Virtual School has oversight for all Essex children in care from Early Years, throughout their statutory education years and through post 16 further education. The role of the local authority is set out in the DfE document Promoting the education of looked after children Statutory Guidance for local authorities July 2014

The service also maintains an oversight for children from other local authorities placed in Essex schools.  Essex has produced a document to support other LAs​ who place children in care in the Essex area.​

If you have children that are in the care of another Local Authority, please try to ensure that you are also aware of their Virtual Head de​tails. This is the current list of Virtual School Heads​​​ for the Eastern Region.
Virtual School Team​​​ (including all contact details of the team)

Free Music Opportunities for Children in Care

Essex Music Services

Essex Music Services (lead partner in Essex Music Education Hub) and the Essex Virtual School are working together to enable musical opportunities for all Looked After Children (LAC), children subject to a Special Guardianship Order (SGO), Child Arrangement Order (CAO) or Children adopted from care are offered the following musical opportunities by Essex Music Education Hub completely free of charge. This covers school based music tuition, instrument hire and access to ensembles through the Music Schools. Further information and an application form can be found on the Essex Music Service website. Please note the above offer is applicable to music tuition in Essex County Council Schools and EMS community Music Schools; it cannot be used at schools in other local authorities or for at-home provision. For ECC LAC, SGO, CAO or Children Adopted from Care that are receiving their education at another local authority school, please contact the Virtual School​ who will be able to advise you further.

There are some limitations for the service - there is a minimum number of children in the school requiring tuition. However, Essex Music Services also run Music School​ sessions at many locations. 

Essex Music Services now hire hire complete music technology packages to support budding young songwriters, producers and sound engineers!

£20 per term with additional subsidy for low-income families, and completely free to children in care.

For more info email or click here​​​

Ofsted Evidence Form S5

Improving outcomes for children in care is a priority for Ofsted and forms part of the school inspection. Inspectors will use the S5 Evidence Form​ to support their judgement. 

Personal Education Plans

It is recommended that the PEP1 is completed in the first three weeks of the term as this will be an essential element of planning and assessment for children in care. In the first three weeks of term new targets following a gap analysis will need to be incorporated into the PEP1 document to enable progress to be assessed at the end of the term. Please remember that  the  learning objectives should be challenging and reflect targets for the whole term.

Please visit our PEP page for exemplar PEPs, or contact us at

Supporting documents from

The website contains a wealth of information to support schools and colleges in relation to children in care and it has been handily packaged together on this link​.​

Included are documents on advocacy, SEND, health and wellbeing, support in education, special guardianship, social care and research.​​


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