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Page last updated: 15/11/2018




Introductory letter to Foster Carers


Dear Colleagues,

I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself as the new Headteacher of the Virtual School for the county of Essex. I am very excited about the future plans for the Virtual School and have a strong invested team who I have the pleasure of working with. Members of the team are all educational specialists from various backgrounds and share a passion for working with vulnerable young people. 

We have both Primary and Secondary Advisers and an Inclusion Team who are committed to supporting the educational journey of all children in care. We have a supportive Governing Body and a newly appointed Chair of Governors who is has a great knowledge and vast experience of working within the education sector and also is an experienced foster carer.

Our key priorities for 2018-2019 are to:

  • Continue to narrow the attainment gap at all Key Stages between Essex Children in Care and their peers 
  •  Ensure that the pupil premium funding is spent appropriately and effectively.
  • Support foster carers and schools to reduce exclusions and absences.
  • Provide additional support and training to help schools and carers support the “whole child".
  • Increase the number of young people engaged with education, employment or training
  • Ensure that children's emotional and mental well-being is well supported so they are able to achieve academically and contribute to the wider community. 

Please do not hesitate in contacting the Virtual School if further advice is required at

Kind Regards

Natalie Stephenson

Virtual School Headteacher



Useful Links

  • ​​Support to LAs placing children and young people in care in Essex - contact details
  • ​PEP guidance for schools and social care​
  • Information sheet​ for the new GCSE grades (DfE) to support parents and carers
  • Little Bridge - free digital ESOL resource for beginners, children and family learning: This ESOL learning project for primary/secondary children and their parents is designed to be a fun way to develop basic English and ICT skills via digital learning. The family learning model enables children to learn with their parents. It can be used in a variety of settings: at home, in a library, community centre, ESOL lessons and even schools. Some of it runs as an app on smartphones but generally it runs on a multimedia PC with sound and a microphone. Little Bridge is now available, free of charge, to all refugees and asylym-seekers. Further information can be found by contacting Sarah White on either​ or 0208 935 5689.
Recommended reading material
The following four titles have been recommended and are available from Coram​ and other booksellers.

A Foster Carers' Guide to Education
Barry Dixon, published by National Teaching & Advisory Service
ISBN: 978 0 954762 76 6​

Supporting Children's Learning

Clare Pallett, John Simmonds and Andrea Warman, published by BAAF
ISBN: 978 1 905664 15 3

Learn the Child - Helping looked after children to learn
Kate Cairns and Chris Stanway, published by BAAF
ISBN: 978 1 907585 739

Ten top tips for supporting education

Eileen Fursland, Kate Cairns and Chris Stanway, published by BAAF
ISBN: 978 1 907585 715