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Page last updated: 28/06/2017


​*** Please complete the summer term PEPs ***
A message Cathryn Adams, Lead Commissioner for Children in Care and Safeguarding, and Virtual School Head.

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome back for the summer term, I know this is a busy time for you all. A copy of summer term newsletter is below with new information and updates.

The Essex Virtual School has a statutory responsibility for all Essex children in care from Early Years, throughout their time in Primary and Secondary school and through to 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 core function of the Essex Virtual School is to raise attainment of children in care. We know that children in care have underachieved and often do not match the educational attainment of their peers. In Essex we work on a ‘school improvement’ model that means we support and challenge schools to ensure children in care achieve the best educational outcomes possible.

In Essex we subscribe to the view that all our schools are members of the Virtual School and that we have shared priorities and responsibilities to improve the educational outcomes for all our children in care.

Our joint priorities

  • Raise attainment and accelerate progress for children in care across all key stages
  • Improve school attendance and reduce exclusion
  • Improve the quality of Personal Education Plans
  • Support school leadership to enhance a shared objective of improving life opportunities through education
  • Provide access to advice, support and intervention for children adopted, Special Guardianship Order and Child Arrangement Order to schools and families

Key Stage 4 and 5 exams

In order for the Virtual School to collate the results of pupils' exams would all schools and colleges with pupils who are in care please contact the Virtual School with a contact and availability for a telephone call either around examination results days or the first week of the autumn term. Results can be emailed securely to With over 300 pupils in year group 11-13 it is a huge undertaking and we value your assistance with this.

Term Time Holiday

There has been a lot in the media recently in relation to term time holidays following the Supreme Court ruling against Jon Platt. Therefore it’s a timely reminder about Essex’s policy in relation to term time holidays for children in care. If any school receives a request for a term time holiday, please be aware that these should only be considered if they have been agreed by the Director for Local Delivery in social care. If you are in any doubt, please check with either the child’s social worker or feel free to contact the Essex Virtual School to discuss further.​

Arrangements for PEPs and PPG

Sabrina Stanley is currently on maternity leave. Sally Moorcock and Tayla Johnson will be supporting the Virtual School with PEPs. In order to ensure we can continue to support your school please email any queries or questions on PEPs or PPG to  CLA Tracker issues, including locked accounts, pupil queries and changes to Designated Teachers should be directed to

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

Cathryn Adams, Virtual School Head

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)

​National Association of Virtual School Heads

Cathryn Adams is a member of the National Association of Virtual School Heads.

​The Research and Improvement Priorities 2016/17

1. Establish The National Association of Virtual School Heads and links with key partners.

2. Develop a robust means of measuring attainment and progress based on recent research demonstrating what impacts most on educational outcomes for children in care.

3. Uphold high quality educational provision for all children in care.

4. Research and develop best practice use of Pupil Premium Plus to maximise its impact.

5. Support schools to implement the NICE Guidance on Attachment.

6. Promote engagement with Children in Care Councils and ensure the voice of children in care and care leavers is at the centre of our work.

7. Support the ongoing professional development of Virtual School Heads, Designated Teachers and other professionals working with children in care.

Further details can be found on the website​.

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.

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


News Alerts

Essex Virtual School Annual Report 2015-16

T​he annual report for 2015-16 has now been published and is available for download from here​

Children in Care - resources and 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.


ESI ContactUs

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Cathryn Adams, Virtual School Head


033301 31077


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