Virtual School

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 (Connexions) 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 in the context of Every Child Matters, 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 levels
  • Achieve their targets as indicated by FFT
  • Have less than 25 days absence per academic year
  • 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
  • Secure objective evidence that:
  1. Fewer students feel bullied at school
  2. There is increasing student involvement in extra curricular and extension activities
  3. Special education needs are being met in terms of statementing and school action
  4.  Fewer students do not have a school place at any one time
  5. The average time taken to secure a school place for a child is being reduced
  6. The average number of school days missed per term by children is falling
  7. The average number of school moves in any 12 week period is being reduced
  8. The number of children who have an up to date PEP or PEP review is increasing.

Key workers at the Virtual school

The Virtual School for Looked after children has changed its focus and we now have Key Workers who have responsibility for monitoring the progress and attainment of Looked after Children in specific year groups:

  • Early years & Year 1 – Shane Thacker
  • Years 2, 3, 4 – Lynne Pattinson
  • Years 5, 6, 7 – Charley Woolley
  • Years 8, 9 – Diane Smallman
  • Years 10, 11 – Mel Harris

Karen Dainty 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.  Liaising and working in partnership with agencies to support the education of looked after/vulnerable children.

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

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 students if agreed through consultation
  • 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


1)    School, Carer, Social Worker or other partner requests support from the Virtual School or a concern is raised by Virtual School staff regarding progress, attainment or provision

2)   Request or concern is referred to the relevant Key Worker

3)   Key Worker will contact school and arrange a meeting to discuss:

  • Nature of difficulty
  • Current performance levels
  • Support currently in place – including involvement of other agencies
  • What school wants

Actions to include:

  • What school will do
  • What Virtual School will do
  • What any partner agencies will do
  • All actions will be time limited and a review date set

A  Record of consultation will be written and actions agreed with school.

  • Copies to be held by school, Carer, Social Worker, other involved agencies and Virtual School file

Walsall Looked after Children and Young People’s Health Team

Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust has a dedicated team to support the health needs of Walsall’s Looked After Children and young people (CYP) wherever they may be placed. The team co-ordinate the required health assessments all CYP (for those under 5yrs this is every 6 months and for those over 5yrs every year until the age of 18yrs. (up to 24 years if a need has been identified).The team also offer bespoke clinics and advice to foster carer’s, facilitating ‘fast track’ into specialist services.

The team offer an enhanced health service for this group with named professionals with responsibility to ensure the health needs for this vulnerable group are met. The Team comprises of an administrator, designated doctor and nurse, named health professionals for looked after children and those in transition and leaving care.

Contact details of the named professionals are:

Designated Nurse for Looked After Children and Social Inclusion – Blakenall Village Centre 01922 443919

Looked After Children and young people –

Transition and Leaving Care –

Information, Advice and Guidance

Prospects IAG deploys a full time Personal Adviser who provides 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
Prospects Services Ltd | Walsall Connexions Centre
30 Station Street

Telephone 01922 636333
Mobile 07584390023

Contact details

Virtual School
Support Centre
Field Road

Telephone 01922 686230

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