THE VIRTUAL SCHOOL
The Portsmouth College
The focus on improving outcomes for pupils in our schools also extends to the work of the Virtual School and improving outcomes for children who are looked after whether they be in Portsmouth’s schools or in schools outside of the area (Virtual School Action Plan / Virtual School Annual Report). The Virtual School takes a lead role in ensuring that all children who are looked after, have educational provision that meets their needs and that they receive the support they need to fulfil their potential, removing any barriers and ensuring every child has a Personal Education Plan which is reviewed at least once a term.
The Portsmouth Virtual School team comprises a Virtual School Headteacher (VSH) – Tina Henley, a Deputy Headteacher – Victoria Reynish, one senior caseworker – Ashley Edwards, 6 caseworkers – Annette Bradshaw, Lucy Head, Sarah Horne, Sean Kenneally, Michelle Loveday, Sarah Major, and a PAL (Positive Attendance Lead) worker – Kirstie McQuarrie. A data officer from the education team and an administrator completes the team. The VSH is the lead ensuring that arrangements are in place to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of those children and young people who are looked after by Portsmouth. ‘Looked After’ is the legal term for children in care, taken from the Children Act 1989.
The Virtual School monitors the educational progress and attendance of all children looked after by Portsmouth providing advice and support to those children and the adults working with them. In particular, the team supports Social Workers, Carers and Designated Teachers in planning for good educational outcomes. The team also provides training and development for a range of stakeholders, Personal Education Plans (PEPs) for children looked after are completed through e-PEP, and an electronic system commissioned by the Portsmouth provided by Welfare Call.
The Virtual School team will also provide advice and information to support children who were previously looked after but have moved to:
- An adoption order
- Special Guardianship Order
Virtual School Newsletters
Unaccompanied refugees and asylum-seekers
EMAS is working extensively with the Virtual School to support unaccompanied refugees and asylum-seekers in the city. These young people are often the most challenging for schools to work with and, as such, we produced guidance for you last year in the form of a toolkit:
A Practical Toolkit for Supporting Refugee and Asylum-Seekers in Secondary Schools
Advice and Information Cards
Some of these pupils go to Y10 and 11 in city schools and beyond and older ones go to college. If there is no place for them immediately, EMAS are now running weekly English sessions for them to help these young people gain some skills and socialise whilst an education plan is put in place.
For secondary schools with late arrival unaccompanied asylum-seeking pupils, there is a useful online ‘phrasebook’, including some phonetic translations. However, it needs discretion with its use as it covers vocabulary for issues that you will wish to deal with more sensitively rather than giving directly as a resource to pupils: