What is a Virtual School and what is its purpose?

The Virtual School does not exist in real terms as a building, and children and young people do not attend. It is a service provided by dedicated professionals within the Children, Schools and Families Directorate whose work is to promote and co-ordinate educational support for Looked After Children and Care Leavers to succeed at nursery, school, college and university; wherever their place of learning.

Our purpose is to ensure that all who work with Merton’s Looked After Children and Care Leavers have high educational aspirations for them so that our pupils and students are given the best opportunities to engage, progress and achieve to their full potential.

Who are we?

The Virtual School Head leads the service provided by Advisory Teachers and an Education, Employment and Training Advisor. We are able to call on the specialist services from other departments within the Directorate to assist as required. For example: Early Years, the Education Welfare Service, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Team, Educational Psychology and The Virtual Behaviour Service.

The ‘School Office’ provides business and data support.

Who do we work with?

  • All children and young people who are Looked After by Merton or who are Care Leavers. within Merton’s Children’s Social Care 14 plus team.
  • Carers and professionals linked to the above children and young people.

We also work for Looked After Children from other boroughs who attend Merton Schools.

What do we do?

  • Seek to develop an in-depth understanding of the child’s educational needs and challenges
  • Advise on, secure and maintain best possible education provision according to these needs .
  • Raise awareness of attachment issues and barriers to learning with schools and providers
  • Collect and analyse engagement, progress and achievement data in order to track, monitor, support and challenge.
  • Coordinate, chair and process Personal Education Planning (PEP) meetings and documentation.
  • Advise on, track and monitor the use of Pupil Premium Plus and its impact.
  • Arrange access to additional resources to raise attainment and progress, and develop interests, including one to one tuition.  
  • Deliver training to partners: Designated Teachers, Governors, Foster Carers, Social Workers and external partners, including statutory responsibilities of schools and settings.
  • Provide additional one to one advice, guidance and support for engagement in education, training and employment.

How do we do what we do?

  • We develop and maintain close working relationships and regular contact with our students, carers, social workers and wider agencies
  • We keep a school roll for children 0-16 and an attendance register.
  • We share a database with our 14+ team colleagues for Looked After young people and Care Leavers.
  • We allocate an Advisory Teacher or specialist worker to each child or young person.
  • We have regular contact with schools, academies, colleges, training providers and universities and close liaison with Designated Teachers and Designated Persons.
  • We attend normally attend at least two PEP meetings per year with interim reviews by telephone consultation.
  • We allocate the Pupil Premium Grant for Looked After Children
  • We contribute to Pathways plans for our older students, including one to one  meetings
  • We ensure opportunities for children to develop interests and hobbies, either individually or alongside other Looked After Children.

Related information

Contact us

The Virtual School for Looked After Children
11th Floor, Merton Civic Centre
London Road
Morden
SM4 5DX

Telephone 020 8545 4199
Email virtualschool@merton.gov.uk