Local authorities should extend the virtual school head role to champion children with a social worker and promote their education.
The Department of Education has issued new guidance on the role of the virtual school head. It is worth noting that funding for this extended role is currently only confirmed until March 2022.
The Government’s Children in Need review recognised the crucial role that Virtual School Heads 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.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected all children and for many of the most vulnerable has increased barriers to education. It is essential that the cohort of children with a social worker are supported to recover from the pandemic.
From September 2021, local authorities will receive funding to resource Virtual School Heads to work with early years settings, schools, colleges and social care leaders to create a culture of high aspirations that helps all children with social workers to make educational progress. With the knowledge and expertise gained from their work promoting the educational outcomes of looked-after and previously looked-after children, Virtual School Heads will enhance the partnerships between education settings and local authorities.
Virtual School Heads will work with agencies to further understand and address the disadvantages that children with a social worker can experience.
The Virtual School Head will help to demonstrate the benefits of attending an education setting, as well as ensuring there are mechanisms in place to offer advice and support to teachers and social workers, with the aim of narrowing the attainment gap.
The additional role of the Virtual School Head does not require the Virtual School Heads to provide direct intervention, help and support for individual children with a social worker or their families.
This guidance does not change existing duties for looked-after and previously looked-after children, and should be read in conjunction with statutory guidance Promoting the education of looked-after and previously looked-after children.
Read the new guidance on the role of the virtual school head here.
Read Promoting the education of looked-after and previously looked-after children here.