Agenda item

VIRTUAL SCHOOL ANNUAL REPORT

Minutes:

Report ED18074

 

The Sub-Committee considered the Bromley Virtual School Annual Report 2017/18.  Local authorities had a duty under the Children Act 1989 to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child looked afterby them. This included a particular duty to promote the child’s educational achievement, wherever they lived or were educated. The Authority must therefore give particular attention to the educational implications of any decision about the welfare of those children, including children who had been placed for adoption until the court made the adoption order giving parental responsibility to the adoptive parents.  Every local authority was required to ensure that a Virtual School Head Teacher was in place, giving that officer responsibility for arrangements which ensured that looked after children had access to a suitable range of high quality education placement options and that there were robust procedures in place to monitor the attendance and educational progress of the children in its care.  Reporting on the progress, performance and development of the Virtual School was a key activity and the Annual Report of the Virtual School Head Teacher was a requirement of Ofsted during an inspection.

 

In response to a question from the Chairman, the Virtual School Head Teacher reported that she had very limited power to require Academies to accept children looked after, and any action that could be taken would need to be through the Secretary of State.  Placements in Kent were a particularly challenging and Officers were awaiting the outcome of a court case relating to Lewisham concerning placements in Kent.

 

In response to a question concerning the retention of pupil premium plus funding, the Virtual School Head Teacher confirmed that she did have an element of discretion to retain some funding however she felt that it was her job to direct as much of the funding as possible into schools.

 

Turning to the issue of apprenticeships, the Virtual School Head Teacher stated that she felt that the Local Authority should be doing more in terms of offering opportunities to its Children Looked After.  More also needed to be done to encourage children looked after to submit applications for the positions that were available.  The working relationship with London South East Colleges was positive although many children looked after preferred a work based setting rather than an academic setting.

 

Training and support for applying for jobs was being addressed on a number of levels.  The Leaving Care Team undertook specific pieces of work around writing CVs, using The Hub as a base, and providing allowances for an interview suit if required.

 

The Sub-Committee noted that Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children generally performed well educationally and were often very aspirational.  The young people were usually encouraged to access the English as a Second Language course within two weeks.  The Sub-Committee requested that Members be provided with a report on Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children, including their country of origin, ages, how the Local Authority helped them, and where they were placed.

 

Action Point 5: That Members of the Sub-Committee be provided with a report on Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children following the meeting.

 

In response to a question the Virtual School Head Teacher explained the background to Attachment Theory and confirmed that she would be working with schools to help them better understand the effect that disruption, trauma, and neglect could have on children’s abilities to form attachments with adults and support young people experiencing issues with attachment.

 

The Virtual School Head Teacher confirmed that there were no children looked after in elective home education.

 

RESOLVED: That the Virtual School Annual Report 2017/18 be noted.

 

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