West Berkshire Council

The Virtual School - Previously Looked After Children

Educational support for previously looked after children in West Berkshire

The aim of the Virtual School is to improve the educational outcomes of children in care and those previously looked after.  It uses the same structure as a traditional school but does not actually exist in a building.

Following the Children and Social Work Act 2017, the work of the Virtual School was extended to include a wider group of children and specifically those who were previously looked after by a local authority.

Previously looked after children are those who:

  • are no longer looked after by a local authority because they are the subject of an adoption, special guardianship or child arrangements order
  • were adopted from 'state care' outside England and Wales

Local authorities have a duty to promote the educational achievement of previously looked after children in their area by providing information and advice to:

  • any person that has parental responsibility for the child
  • providers of funded early years education, designated teachers for previously looked after children in maintained schools and academies
  • any other person the authority considers appropriate for promoting the educational achievement of relevant children

For previously looked after children, the Virtual School Headteacher is a source of advice and information to help parents to advocate for their children as effectively as possible. Some of this advice can be accessed by downloading the advice document for adoptive parents and schools.

West Berkshire's Virtual School Headteacher is Robin Douglas.

Accessing Advice

The Virtual School Headteacher provides a weekly opportunity to meet, discuss concerns and provide advice. This is open to parents and schools alike. In order to access this advice, the downloadable referral form needs to be completed and submitted to the Virtual School's Business Manager, Susan Shephard. It is essential that parental consent is gained before discussing children and young people. It is also crucial that the Court Order has been seen by either the referring school or the Virtual School to safeguard children.