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Page last updated: 19/08/2020

The role of the Virtual School

​The role of the Virtual School is to promote the educational achievement of Children in Care, whether educated in Essex or placed out of authority, through having high aspirations and working to close the attainment gap between those children and their peers.  This is achieved, similarly to a real school, by maintaining an accurate roll of all children in the care of Essex County Council and monitoring attendance daily along with termly progress and attainment.  The Personal Education Plan (PEP) for each child includes the progress and attainment information as well as recording interventions, often funded through the Pupil Premium Plus Grant, to ensure the child achieves well.  The Virtual School works in partnership with teams in Children and Families to ensure that each child has an up to date, effective and high quality PEP that focuses on education outcomes.  The Essex Virtual School team also provides advice and information to support children who were previously looked after and are now subject to adoption orders, special guardianship orders and child arrangement orders.  This aspect of the team's work has been in place for two years and it will become a statutory requirement  of all Virtual Schools in England in September, 2018.

Promoting the education of looked-after children and previously looked-after children- Department of Education.


The Virtual School Head has primary responsibility for ensuring that there is a suitable education in place for all children in care, this includes overseeing admissions, managed moves and education moves brought about through care placement moves.  The Virtual School team works with children at times of placement change, school change and periods of challenge in their lives to ensure that engagement with education is sustained.

Under the statutory role of Virtual School Head, the Virtual School team works to ensure that the Pupil Premium Plus for children in care is:

•          passed to schools to improve attainment outcomes on receipt of high quality planning as identified in the Personal Education Plan

•          managed within the Virtual School to provide additional interventions to improve attainment for our children

The Virtual School team provides training and advice for a number of partners including carers, people in a parental role, social workers, designated teachers and independent reviewing officers so that each can understand their roles in supporting success for children in care and those who are “previously looked after."

By working with young people in care through the Engagement and Involvement service in Children and Families, the Virtual School team responds to the voice of those young people and celebrates their success.

Although the statutory responsibilities for the Virtual School relate to children in care age 0-17 and those who have moved to adoption orders, special guardianship orders and child arrangement orders, the team has a role in contributing to the local authority's effectiveness in promoting good educational outcomes for care leavers through to age 25.


We have written a Virtual School Handbook

The Pledge to children in care

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 Easy Read version​​

Supporting documentation 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 .

Schools, colleges and children's services Looked-after children, gov uk website.

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