Virtual School and inclusion support services

The Virtual School fulfils local authority statutory duties to ensure that vulnerable learners receive their entitlement to good quality full time education in inclusive settings where they are safe to learn.

Northumberland's inclusion strategy 2017 is part of an area wide approach to special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

Northumberland's SEND Strategy can be viewed on the Local Offer website.
Making a referral into the Virtual School and inclusion support services is easy.

To refer a pupil to Education Welfare please complete the form below and return it to To refer to EOTAS Health Needs for tuition please complete the Virtual School Passport at the link below and send it with a supporting medical letter to To refer to Education Support for Looked After Children (ESLAC) please use the contact details provided in the relevant section on this webpage.

For referrals to the fair access Pupil Placement Panel or to notify the local authority of a permanent exclusion please make an online referral by using the link below:
Our Virtual School is the champion of good education outcomes for Northumberland's looked after children .

There is no Virtual School building but we do share some features of a ‘real’ school.  Our virtual school has:
  • a workforce which includes the
    • Headteacher, Jane Walker;
    • education support for looked-after children (ESLAC) team;
    • designated teachers for looked-after children in all our schools and academies;
  • a multi-agency looked-after partnership (MALAP) - our governing body and critical friend which drives our improvement and promotes high standards of educational achievement;
  • a virtual school roll - pupils are enrolled at and remain the responsibility of  real schools;
  • assessment database which tracks and monitors the progress and attainment of all looked-after children in Northumberland schools and our children in schools or academies outside of our authority; 
  • a school improvement plan which sets out our priorities for each academic year;
  • statutory guidance from the Department for Education;
  • an Ofsted inspection every 3 years (children's social care single inspection framework).
It is a statutory requirement that every school has a Designated Teacher for looked-after children (LAC). 

Every looked-after child must have a personal education plan (PEP) to support their progress and achievement in school. The PEP is part of the child's care plan.  Designated teachers must ensure that the PEP:
  • is up to date and in line with education health and care plan (EHCP) reviews, looked-after children (LAC) reviews and transition plans (if applicable);
  • notes the date of the next meeting;
  • involves the parent (if appropriate), carer and young person;
  • has SMART targets relating to education achievement;
  • demonstrates how resources are used.
Amongst other responsibilities the Designated Teacher must also write an annual report for the school's governing body.

Keeping in touch 

Learn, Achieve, Celebrate - half term bulletin and termly newsletters: Useful information: Please note that in September 2017 we started implementation of a Northumberland ePEP.
For general enquiries or to contact the Virtual School Headteacher, Jane Walker
Meet the ESLAC team, working with professionals to create the right conditions for learning.

For a summary of the work of the team please download our leaflet:
ESLAC's contribution to raising the achievement of looked after children is significant and includes:
  • ensuring that Personal Education Plans (PEPs) are completed to a high standard, including the Pupil Premium Plus agreement, and that it is an effective mechanism to support the achievement of looked after children;
  • ensuring looked-after children are prioritised and fast-tracked wherever possible through our services;
  • establishing and maintaining a professional network at local and strategic levels to promote the education of looked-after children;
  • advising and supporting schools and social care staff regarding the education of looked-after children;
  • remaining up-to-date with the latest government advice and good practice.
Support to meet the identified needs of individual learners can include:
  • negotiating alternative provision, facilitating managed moves, supporting re-integration into school;
  • one to one classroom support and additional teacher time;
  • extra help after school with some Key Stage 2 SATS or GCSE revision;
  • access to computers and loan of educational software;
  • information and guidance (IAG) from Year 9 onwards:
  • co-ordinating multi-agency support, including social workers and foster carers;
  • training and awareness raising for other professionals who work with looked-after children.
Our virtual school monitors the progress and attainment of children in care with other authorities who are on roll in Northumberland schools. Support from most of the teams in the Education and Skills Service can be accessed by schoools for the benefit of those children.

However, the type of support offered by our ESLAC team and the funding available to support individual children will be provided by the Virtual School in the authority with which any individual child is in care. 

Contact us if you need help to get in touch with virtual schools in other authorities.

Our referral procedure is simple - telephone or email us. We accept referrals from carers, social workers, parents and teachers. We’re happy to talk to young people too.

For general enquiries:

Tel: 01670 622779

Brunel Building
64 Regent Street
NE24 1LT

The Schools’ Safeguarding and Wellbeing team provides services to create environments where vulnerable pupils are safe to learn and monitors safeguarding standards in schools.

Information for Schools regarding all aspects of safeguarding children in Northumberland can be found on ONE PAGE which is updated regularly by the Education and Skills Service in partnership with our Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB).

For a summary of requirements and responsibilities please view and download our leaflets: A bulletin is distributed to schools, academies and education providers across Northumberland every half term, the latest issue can be downloaded to view and print here: Education settings are all required to comply with the DfE's statutory guidance for safeguarding children: Training is available from Northumberland's LSCB for schools/academies to access, and as detailed in the brochure for 2017-18: Schools are required to have their own Child Protection Policy which has to be reviewed annually.  A model policy and policy checklist are available here to download and adapt for your setting: Follow this link for further information and guidance from Northumberland's Education and Skills service on creating environments where children are SAFE TO LEARN.
The Education Welfare Service fulfils the statutory duties of the local authority for safeguarding children in relation to school attendance, elective home education, children missing education, children in entertainment and employment and chaperones.

For a summary of key services provided by the Education Welfare team please view and download our leaflets: Work is undertaken on behalf of children in partnership with their parents, schools and other professionals to enable each pupil the maximum opportunity to benefit from their statutory entitlement to full time education.

Work is also undertaken at a whole school level to support schools with their policies and practices to improve attendance.  This can involve support which is non-statutory but available through the team's service level agreement (see SLA section above).

To apply for a child employment licence, a child entertainment licence or to be a chaperone for a child in entertaiment, please follow this link: child employment licence

Key documents:
Elective Home Education (EHE) is the term used by the DfE to describe parents' decisions to provide education for their children at home instead of sending them to school. This is different to home tuition provided by a local authority or education provided by a local authority other than at a school. ‘Parents’ includes all those with parental responsibility, including guardians and carers.

For a summary please view and download our leaflet: The local authority has duties under the Education Act 1996, with regard to Elective Home Education.  It has to ensure that pupils of statutory school age (5-16) receive their entitlement to full time education and are educated in accordance with the wishes of their parents.

The responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents.  In England, education is compulsory but school is not.

Under Section 175(1) of the Education Act 2002 local authorities also have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.  This includes ensuring that agencies that work with and have contact with children educated at home by their parents are aware of their responsibility to consider whether children are being adequately safeguarded within those settings and, where appropriate, to notify other agencies of their concerns. Section 175(1) does not give local authorities powers to enter the homes of children undertaking elective home education.  

The guidance on this webpage is intended to help parents who are either considering or have decided to educate their child at home rather than at school. The education of a child at home is a great responsibility for a family.  It demands a serious commitment in terms of time, patience and energy.  This information should make clear the current legislation, together with Northumberland County Council’s policies and ways of working.  We hope the questions and answers will clarify the situation and help you reach the best decision for your child. Disagreements at school
Children should not be taken out of school because of a disagreement with the school or because you have been asked to.  There are ways of solving problems such as contacting the headteacher, the governors of the school or you can contact the Education Welfare Service.
Education Welfare fulfils the Local Authority's statutory duty to identify children missing education and to get them back into education.

For a summary please view and download our leaflet:

Our arrangements have been developed in partnership with the NSCB and enable us to establish the identities of children in our area who are not registered pupils at a school and who are not receiving suitable education otherwise than at a school.   The agreed procedures include measures to prevent children at risk of becoming missing (or CME, which means children missing education).  

Northumberland Local Authority can demonstrate that the statutory guidance regarding children missing from education is followed. 

Northumberland's arrangements can be downloaded here:

EOTAS is the name of the service which provides or facilitates alternative education for pupils who are unable to attend school as a result of permanent exclusion or for health and medical reasons.

For information about EOTAS inclusion please view and download our summary leaflets: EOTAS inclusion is part of the Inclusion Team and provides for learners who are of statutory school age who have been permanently excluded from school, including:
  • statutory requirements of the permanent exclusion process whereby the local authority has a responsibility to arrange full-time education for permanently excluded learners which should be in place no later than the 6th day after the first day of the exclusion.  Schools are required to notify the local authority of a permanent exclusion on that first day.
  • management of a fair access protocol through the Pupil Placement Panel;
  • quality assurance of alternative providers on the Northumberland County Council Alternative Provision Framework;
  • advice and guidance on inclusive practice.
Alternative Providers on the Northumberland framework are quality assured through contract compliance, school improvement partners and the Inclusion team.

The local authority's framework is intended to meet the needs of pupils of statutory school age who are:
  • permanently excluded from school;
  • who have been excluded from school on a fixed term basis;
  • at risk of disengaging from mainstream education;
  • who require additional support during a negotiated transfer between mainstream schools; 
  • who may need alternative provision to meet their entitlement to full time education.
For support and guidance regarding alternative provision please telephone 01670 624183 or 01670 624187, or e-mail us at 
For a summary of the service provided by this team please view and download our leaflet: EOTAS Wellbeing provides for learners who are of statutory school age but who are unable to attend school full time due to health and medical needs.  Tuition is provided on a one to one basis or in small groups depending on the needs of each individual pupil.  Pupils can still attend school part-time and receive EOTAS tuition, or have their full time education provided by our team of teachers.

Medical needs: referrals are usually made by Education Welfare Officers or school pastoral managers/heads of year with confirmation in writing from a medical professional (usually a consultant rather than a GP) that the learner is unable to attend school because of their medical condition.

Mental health needs: referrals are usually made by Education Welfare Officers or school pastoral managers/heads of year with confirmation in writing from a mental health professional that the learner is unable to attend school because of their mental health condition.
For advice or guidance if a pupil has been excluded from school or is at risk of being excluded from school, please telephone 01670 624183 or 01670 624187.

For advice or guidance if a pupil is physically or mentally ill, please telephone 01670 622720.

Inclusion Support Workers work with pupils, families and professionals to support pupils who need to re-engage with learning and get 'back on track'

For a summary of the service provided by the team please view and download our leaflet: The key objectives of the team are to:
  • actively promote inclusive practice and build capacity within schools/academies/alternative providers to ensure that the educational, social, emotional and health development of learners is fully supported and that education outcomes improve;
  • integrate inclusion support services with Early Help, children’s social care and other partner agencies to promote inclusive practice in education settings.
These objectives are achieved by offering support through our service level agreement to:
  • provide early help for pupils who might become at risk of exclusion or who are at risk of becoming persistent absentees;
  • support for pupils for whom a managed move is being considered;
  • leading on Early Help Assessments (or EHAs);
  • support for pupils into and out of alternative provision;
  • transition support for pupils who have moved into the authority from out of county or who are between schools/settings.
Inclusion Support Workers can have a positive impact on education outcomes for learners by promoting inclusive practices within schools/settings to ensure that their diverse needs are met.
Inclusion Support Workers can:
  • provide information, advice and guidance to enable individuals to access a full and varied curriculum and to make appropriate choices regarding their own learning,  behaviour and attendance;
  • support individual learners by through coaching and mentoring;
  • support  schools and settings by actively promoting inclusive practices to ensure that diverse individual needs are identified and assessed;
  • facilitate positive relationships between families/home and school through liaison with parents and schools;
  • identify training needs within schools/settings, deliver training, set up support groups, work with parent groups where appropriate;
  • provide in-school and/or family support for learners at risk of exclusion;
  • provide early help for learners missing from education to re-engage pupils in their learning and therefore improve attendance.
Schools/settings can refer into the service in the following ways:
1.where an Early Help Assessment (EHA) is in place, the team manager can be contacted directly by phone or e-mail and will decide if ISW involvement will meet the need(s) of the learner concerned; 

2.if inclusion support is the only service required, a direct referral can be made using the Referral Passport:

3.if there is no Early Help Assessment (EHA) in place and/or you are unsure of the service(s) required, then a referral should be made to the local area Early Help hub;

4.if urgent support is required, for example where a learner is at risk of immediate permanent exclusion, then the team should be contacted by phone or e-mail directly.
For further information please contact us on 01670 623412.
Northumberland Adolescent Services (NAS) is part of children’s social care and consists of a range of services who support children and young people of ages 8 to 18 (some from 21 to 25 if in education):
  • Sorted-young people’s substance misuse service
  • Youth Offending Service including the Liaison and Diversion Service
  • 14+ social work team
  • Adolescent health team including teenage pregnancy workers (commissioned from Northumbria Healthcare)
  • Accommodation team
  • Participation team
All services can be contacted at:
Northumberland Adolescent Services
Northumbria House
Manor Walks
NE23 6UR

Tel: 01670 622930
Support for schools and academies regarding the compulsory PSHE curriculum, including relationships education.

In partnership with Public Health and as part of the local 0-19 Integrated Health Service, support is available to schools to discharge local authority and school statutory duties relating to relationships education and the curriculum.

Northumberland's core RSE (relationships and sex education) curriculum outline can be accessed here.

The Schools' Safeguarding and Wellbeing team participates in Northumberland's Local Transformation Plan 2015-2020 to improve the emotional health and wellbeing of children and young people.  Plans are in place to develop mental health champions in schools.

A useful resource for schools to promote resilience and improve health and wellbeing can be viewed here.
Local authority inclusion support services which are non-statutory are now available to all education settings through this service level agreement (SLA).

The SLA is delivered through 3  well-established and familiar teams: Education Welfare, Inclusion (incorporating EOTAS) and Schools’ Safeguarding and Wellbeing.

Please browse through the Inclusion pages brochure and then get in touch with us.

For further information or to arrange a support through the Inclusion SLA please contact:
  • Angela Cunningham, Education Welfare Team Manager, 01670 623367
  • Carol Leckie, Schools’ Safeguarding and Wellbeing Team Manager 01670 622720
  • Janice Woods, Inclusion Team Manager 01670 623412
* Please note that the support package Alternative Inclusion Support on page 26 costs £500 in total (and not per day).
Information about statutory services follows on the rest of this webpage.