What is the Torbay Virtual School?

The Virtual School supports the education of children looked after from ages 0 – 19. It is the Local Authority’s statutory duty to promote the educational achievement of children looked after under Section 52 of the Children Act 2004. For more information please see - Promoting Educational Achievement of Looked After Children – Statutory guidance for LA in the Related Documents

The Virtual School is just that – virtual. It does not have premises but it does have staff. It operates like a school and has three key responsibilities:

  • To make sure there is a system to track and monitor the attainment and progress of children looked after;

  • To ensure that all personal education plans are robust and effective and enable children looked after to gain access to support;

  • To champion the educational needs of children looked after across the authority and those placed out of authority.

Who is a pupil of the Virtual School?

Every child looked after will be on the Virtual School roll as well as being on the roll of their mainstream or special school. The Virtual School monitors the progress of children from 0 – 19, so the Virtual School has an oversight of early years provision as well as that post 16.

There are three defined groups in the Torbay Virtual School:

  • In the care of or a care leaver of Torbay and educated in Torbay Early Years setting/school/college

  • In the care of or a care leaver of Torbay and educated in another authority

  • In the care of another local authority but educated in a Torbay Early Years setting/school/college.

Promoting the Educational Achievement of Children Looked After: Statutory Guidance for Local Authorities
Statutory guidance for local authorities on legislation, planning and implementation of promoting the educational achievement of Children Looked After.

School Admissions

Children Looked After are prioritised for admissions to schools.

School Exclusions

The Virtual School aims to work with schools to avoid exclusion where possible. The Headteacher of the Virtual School works closely with the Behaviour Partnership and will ensure that when a Child Looked After needs an intervention in order to support the school place that it is implemented quickly.

Admissions & Exclusions
Protocol for admissions and exclusions of children looked after in Torbay.

We know that every school day matters. Punctual and regular school attendance is essential to effective learning. The attendance of all children in the Virtual School is regularly monitored. The Virtual School recommends that holidays for Children Looked After (CLA) should not be authorised in school terms. This is because research suggests that children taken out of school may never catch up on the work missed. This may affect test results and can be potentially harmful if a child is studying for final year examinations.

The attendance of all children and young people of statutory school age is monitored regularly and where there are concerns the Virtual School ensures strategies are put in place. The Virtual School also praises excellent attendance.

In every school there is a Designated Teacher (DT) for Children Looked After (CLA). This is a very important role. The DT should have lead responsibility for helping school staff understand the things which affect how CLA learn and achieve. The DT also has a key role in making sure there is a central point of initial contact within the school who can manage the process of how the school engages with others (e.g. social workers, Virtual School Headteacher etc), works in a joined up way and minimises disruption to the child’s education.

The Designated Teachers meet every term in Torbay. The dates for 2016/17 are as follows:

  • 29 March 2017
  • 21 June 2017

Please contact us on 01803 206232 for details of venues.

Designated Teachers Handbook
A guide for schools on how to support children and young people looked after.
The role and responsibilities of the designated teacher for looked after children
Statutory guidance for school governing bodies.
Designated Teacher Guidance Summary
Summary of the roles and responsibilities of the designated teacher statutory guidance.
Support for CLA joining and leaving school
Support for children looked after joining and leaving in your school.
Baseline Assessment Form
Baseline assessment form for children looked after on entering care
School Roll for Looked After Children
Looked after Children attending the school
Checklist for Designated Teachers
Checklist for Designated Teachers for children looked after

This group meets termly and its purpose is to support Foster Carers in their caring role for Children Looked After in order to enhance their knowledge and understanding of education and how best to support their foster child.

Questions for Foster Carers
Questions designed to help support foster carers read with children at home.

The Virtual School is committed to championing the education of children looked after through its work. A vital part of this work is done through the personal education plan (PEP).

  • Personal education plans are a statutory part of the care plan.
  • They need to be completed within 20 days of a child coming into care or 10 days if they have come into care in an emergency.
  • They need to be reviewed and updated once a term.
  • A social worker generates a PEP and has the responsibility for organising the meeting.

On 2 November 2015, Torbay Virtual School launched ePEP, an electronic PEP platform. Paper PEPs completed after 2 November 2015, will no longer be accepted.

If you are a designated teacher or a social worker with an existing ePEP account, you can log in at ePEP Online  Opens in a new window .

If you have forgotten your ePEP password, click on “Forgot your password?”, enter your username and click ‘Send password Reset Link’ then follow the instructions on the automatically generated email. Please use your username to change passwords, not your email address.

If you have not yet been given an ePEP account, you will be emailed a username and a link to set your own secure password. Follow the instructions from the automatically generated email to access your new account.

A user guide is available on the home page by clicking on the book icon on the top toolbar. Your children will already be visible on the homepage. If you have any problems logging in or using your account, please contact Torbay Virtual School .

KS5 PEP's

Following the introduction of ePEP, it has become apparent that the KS5 PEP is not suitable to meet the needs of post 16 students, due to the different options available to continue education and training.

TVS have designed paper PEP’s that we feel will better meet the needs and provide a more accurate record of their progress and needs. A student view form is also part of the process in order for their views to be recorded.

Should you require any changes or have any suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact the Torbay Virtual School.

KS5 PEP’s need to be completed yearly, then at staff discretion depending on changes e.g. a NEET moving back into education.

Post 16 PEP Form
Post 16 Personal Education Plan.
Post 16 PEP - Student's Views Form
Post 16 Personal Education Plan - Student's Views.
NEET PEP Form
Not in Employment, Education or Training - Personal Education Plan.
Some children find it harder to learn than other children of the same age. Children who are finding learning difficult are supported by their teachers or with some extra help in school. A few children have more complicated learning difficulties and may need extra help or equipment in school to help them access an appropriate education.
The law says that children have special educational needs if they have a learning difficulty which calls for special educational provision to be made for them." (1996 Education Act). About 1 in 5 children may have special educational needs of some kind. Some children may have special educational needs for a relatively short time, others will have special educational needs right through their education.

Where it is identified that a Child Looked After needs more support than a school is able to access through their own resources then the Virtual School will support the request for assessment..

The Virtual School has a primary Teacher for Children Looked After, Dave Richardson; two secondary Teachers for Children Looked After, Louise Kilshaw and Anna Beddard; a linked Educational Psychologist, Vicky Wright; an Attendance Officer, Tracey Powell; and a Headteacher, Jane Inett.

As in any school the Virtual School Headteacher is accountable to the Virtual School Governing Body.

The Virtual School Governing Body (VSGB)

The VSGB was established to take the lead in ensuring that schools fulfil their responsibilities to Children Looked After (CLA) and maximise their attainment and achievement. The VSGB will mirror the role of school governing bodies providing a strategic view, acting as a critical friend and ensuring accountability.

Every school should have a policy on CLA and every year a report on the education of CLA in the school should be presented to the school. The VSGB has produced a template for the report and receives a copy of each school’s report.

There are fourteen members on the VSGB; three parent governors (these will be corporate parents and foster carers), five staff governors, three local authority governors and three community governors.

The VSGB meets every half term.

Annual report to CLA Governor template
Report template for use by schools to report on the education of Children Looked After annually
Supporting Looked After Learners: a practical guide for school governors
Guidance for school governors on supporting Children Looked After in their school
Looked After Children - good practice in schools
A short report based on a small-scale survey of good practice in schools in relation to looked after children.
Ten Questions for Governors
Ten questions for use by the nominated governor at a visit to the school’s Designated Teacher for Children Looked After.