Welcome to the Wokingham Virtual School Website

This website aims to be a one stop portal for professionals working with children and young people who are or who have been in care. It is a place to access information, advice and guidance, share best practice and gain a complete picture of the multi-agency work which goes on in supporting our children and young people. I hope that you will find this website useful and I would welcome any feedback on it as we continue to develop it so that it meets all of your needs.

What is a Virtual School?

Wokingham Virtual School (WVS) acts as a Local Authority champion to promote the progress and educational attainment of children and young people who are or who have been in care so that they achieve educational outcomes comparable to their peers. Ensuring that they receive a high quality education is the foundation for improving their lives.

The school does not exist in real terms, or as a building. Children do not attend it - they remain the responsibility of the school at which they are enrolled. WVS is simply an organisation which has been created for the effective co-ordination of educational services at a strategic and operational level.

What do we do?

  • Influence policy and develop and improve services.
  • Promote individual achievement and wellbeing.
  • Provide advice, support and training to professionals, schools, colleges and institutions.
  • Improve access to specialist services.
  • Provide access to professional advice and guidance on education, training and employment.
  • Provide additional opportunities for out of school learning and leisure.
  • Facilitate access to early education and child care.

How are we organised?

Wokingham Virtual School comprises of a Head Teacher, Deputy Head, Assistant Head, PEP Officer, Post 16 Officer, Early Years Officer and an Education Coordinator who fulfil the following roles:

Provide an enhanced service with a ‘team around the child’ and/or ‘team around the school’ approach. We ensure statutory duties and best practice standards are met, particularly in relation to the health and education of children in care, identifying areas of development and challenging strategic and operational practice are a key part of this role.

Track and monitor the progress of Wokingham Children in Care (CIC), co-ordinating and deploying support to raise their attainment according to an assessment of their needs. We quality assure education and transition planning for all Wokingham CIC, modelling and sharing best planning practice. We supervise CIC training for designated teachers, schools, social workers, foster carers and governors, and act as advocates by positively challenging the practice of schools and other professionals.

Work directly with carers and parents, empowering them and their children to get the most out of the educational opportunities available to them. We enable positive participation, encourage involvement in the learning environment and focus on preventative and early intervention strategies linking to other specialist services and agencies within the child’s network of support.

Support, guide and advise Year 11 students on a successful progression towards post-16 education or work-related training destinations that match their needs well.

Extension to roll

The Government’s Children in Need review (2019) evidenced for the first time that at least 1.6 million children have needed a social worker between 2012/13 and 2017/18 – equivalent to 1 in 10 of all children. The review showed that these children do significantly worse than others at all stages of education and that poor educational outcomes persist even after social work involvement ends. The review recognised the crucial role that VSHs have in helping education settings and local authorities work together and made a commitment to explore the capacity needed to extend their leadership to the cohort of children and young people with a social worker. VSH leadership is vital now more than ever given the impact the pandemic has had on the learning of all children but none more so than the most vulnerable. For example, in the 2020/21 academic year Children in Need (CiN) lost an average of 4.1 months of learning in secondary school reading compared with 2.4 months for all children.

That is why in September 2021 local authorities began receiving funding to extend the role of VSHs to include strategic responsibility for children with a social worker. Using their expertise and knowledge from working with looked-after and previously looked-after children, VSHs have made excellent progress in understanding and addressing the disadvantages and barriers that these children experience. VSHs have worked to strengthen partnerships between education settings and local authorities, establish a culture of high aspirations that helps these children to make educational progress, and demonstrate the benefits of good attendance.

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