Virtual School

Virtual school frequently asked questions

How do I find a child a school place?

Our admissions team prioritises the admission to school of all children in care. The team facilitates the prioritisation of children in care in cases where a school needs to admit over numbers.

We support the admission process through working with social workers and foster carers to secure education provision outside of Central Bedfordshire.

Who do I speak to at the school if I have a concern?

Each school has a statutory obligation to have a designated teacher for children in care and previously looked-after children, who should be the first contact point. It may, however, delegate the responsibility to a head of year who would know the student better. If there are any difficulties, contact the head teacher so they can assist and guide you.

Read guidance on preventing bullying from the government.

How we can support a child or young person be supported to do well in education

We can do this by ensuring:

  • education progress is monitored
  • attendance is above 97%
  • they arrive at school on time
  • they have appropriate targeted support, if required
  • they're supported with homework

When can I take my child on holiday?

Holidays should only be taken during school holiday periods.

Why shouldn’t a child go on holiday during term time?

It has been proven that children who miss a lot of school do less well in their education. See the attendance page for more details and information about holidays in term time.

What is an exclusion?

An exclusion occurs when the head teacher has decided that as a result of a pupil’s behaviour he/she can no longer attend the school either permanently or for a specified period of time (fixed term exclusion.) The exclusion has to be in accordance with the school’s behaviour policy and national guidance on exclusion.

In most cases exclusion, be it fixed-term or permanent, will be the last resort after a range of measures to improve a pupil’s behaviour have been tried. A school can only permanently exclude:

  • in response to serious breaches of the school’s behaviour policy; and
  • if allowing the pupil to remain in school would seriously harm the education or welfare of the pupil or others in the school

If you are concerned that a child is at risk of exclusion, or the school have not put any strategies in place, contact our virtual school on 0300 300 6977.

Read exclusion guidance on GOV.UK.

What happens when a pupil is excluded from school?

Where a looked after pupil is excluded for a fixed period of time, it is recommended that we should ensure alternative educational provision is made from day one of the exclusion and copies of any paperwork should also be forwarded to the child's social worker.

Where a pupil is permanently excluded, the authority where they live is responsible for their education and to allocate a new school or education provision, full time.

Exclusion of children in care should be an absolute last resort. It is vital that schools and social workers work together in partnership with other professionals, trying every practicable means to maintain them in school. It may be necessary to review their Personal Education Plan (PEP).

Children in care should only be excluded in the most exceptional circumstances. Before excluding, schools, in conjunction with the local authority, should first consider alternative options for supporting the child or young person in care.

Why are out of school activities important?

Out of school hours learning offers young people the time to 'find out more', to build up knowledge, and to review, reinforce and practise skills.

Extension clubs that focus on homework and revision for particular subject areas have been shown to be highly effective in improving classroom performance.

A study has found that young people and children participating in informal, enriching activities did better than expected in their GCSEs, by an average of three and a half grades, or by one or more A to C passes. They also had a better attendance and improved attitudes to school than those who did not attend additional activities.

Who are designated teachers?

It is a statutory requirement for each school to have a teacher with responsibility to make sure children in care within the school are supported. The designated teacher in the school must hold a complete list of children in care and have oversight of their progress in school.

The designated teacher is also responsible for promoting the educational achievement of looked-after and previously looked-after children in their school.

Our virtual school maintains an up to date list of designated teachers in schools across the country wherever our children and young people are educated.

Support groups and training are held for designated teachers twice a year.

Download the role and responsibilities of a designated teacher for more information.

Who is the designated teacher in my school?

A list of designated teachers for in and out of borough schools is held by the virtual school.

Call the virtual school for more information on 0300 300 300 6977.

What is the role of a school designated LAC governor?

Each school should have a designated governor for children in care and previously looked-after children.

What is a PEP or a personal education plan (PEP)?

Every child in care must have a current personal education plan which states the specific educational targets for the individual. The social worker is responsible to initiate the PEP working in partnership with the designated teacher.

A PEP consultation takes place every term with relevant professionals to support monitoring and evaluation. Where appropriate, for one term a year only, the PEP is submitted by the designated treacher and a full meeting is not required. This called a designated teacher PEP review.

Is the child/young person expected to attend a PEP meeting?

Yes. They should be supported by a member of the school staff to complete the 'Child/Young Person' section of the PEP before the meeting and supported to discuss at the meeting.

At what age do children require a PEP?

All children of statutory school-age are required to have a PEP as part of their Care Plan regardless of whether or not they are attending school.

Younger children who attend nurseries and young people in education aged 16 and over should also have a PEP.

The purpose of the PEP is to promote and acknowledge progress, this is relevant at all stages from nursery to university.

What is the difference between a Section 20 and a Section 31 of the Children Act 1989?

  • section 20 – parental responsibility remains with the parents
  • section 31 – parental responsibility is with us

Children in care subject to some form of legal order:

  • all children who are subject to a care order (Children Act 1989, section 31), interim care order (Children Act 1989, section 38) or emergency protection order (Children Act 1989, section 44) where the local authority has parental responsibility for that child
  • children under a (criminal law) supervision order with a residence need to live in local authority accommodation
  • children who have appeared in court and have been bailed to reside where the local authority directs - and are being provided with a local authority funded placement
  • children who are remanded to the local authority where release on bail has not been granted
  • children under a court ordered secure remand and held in council accommodation
  • children who are subject to a secure accommodation order where we are funding the cost of the secure placement. They are not looked after if the young person is in secure accommodation due to their offending, and the cost of the placement is funded by the Home Office