Virtual School

The Virtual School supports children to do their very best at school by making sure that they all receive suitable education and feel safe to learn.

Making a referral into the Virtual School is easy.

To refer a pupil to Education Welfare please complete the form below and return it to To refer to Education Other than at School (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 call 01670 622779 or email us at
We are committed to protecting and respecting your privacy. The Council is registered as a ‘data
controller’ under the Data Protection Act (registration no. Z1727733) as we collect, use and
hold personal information about you in order to provide public services.

Please click here to see a notice which explains how we use and share your information. Information may be collected via a paper or online form, by telephone, email, CCTV or by a member of our staff, or one of our partners.
Our Virtual School inspires and motivates children to learn, achieve and celebrate.

Our Virtual School Headteacher is Jane Walker who works with an ESLAC (Education Support for Looked After Children) team.  There is no Virtual School building but we do share some features of a ‘real’ school.  There is
  • a Designated Teacher for looked after and previously looked after children in all of our schools and academies;
  • a governing body called the multi-agency looked-after partnership (MALAP);
  • a virtual school roll - although pupils are enrolled at and remain the responsibility of  real schools;
  • a system to track and monitor the progress and attainment of all children looked after by Northumberland local authority; 
  • a school improvement plan which sets out our priorities for each academic year;
  • a Designated Teacher working group that meets every half term;
  • please click here for statutory guidance from the Department for Education;
  • inspection from Ofsted.
ESLAC team members can support children in many ways, including:
  • getting a place in the right school quickly
  • arranging alternative provision
  • facilitating managed moves
  • helping with reintegration into school
  • keeping school life stable
  • help from our Educational Psychologists
  • delivery of various therapies including Drawing & Talking and Lego Therapy
  • using Thrive attachment strategies
  • mentoring
  • 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
  • careers information and guidance from Year 9 onwards
  • coordinating multi-agency support, including social workers and foster carers
  • training and awareness raising for other professionals who work with looked after and previously looked after children
Early childhood experience shapes a child’s ability to learn and form relationships with peers and adults. All children who have been previously looked after have, on some level, experienced loss abd some have experienced abuse, neglect, and inconsistency that can make it difficult for them to view adults as people they can trust. 

Children and young people who have experienced trauma and loss in their early years may display behaviours that are challenging, which can feel overwhelming for the adults who are trying to support them.  Whilst loving and stable adopted families can mitigate the effects of early childhood trauma; loss and grief can have a lasting legacy on a child’s capacity to manage anxiety and effectively engage in learning.

It is important to emphasize that not all adopted children will experience problems at school and that many schools provide support that is well beyond what is expected.

The Virtual School offers the following to schools, professionals, parents, carers and guardians who are seeking support and advice regarding the education of previously looked after children:
For a summary of everything you need to know about PEPs in Northumberland, please view and download: All looked after children must have a high quality PEP (Personal Education Plan) which is part of their care plan.  In Northumberland all looked after children from the ages of 2 to 16 have an ePEP, a web-based tool which is a dynamic and evolving record to support the child to make good progress and fulfil their potential.  At age 16 the PEP becomes part of the young person's Pathway Plan and supports their transition into education, training and employment after school.

The PEP should reflect the importance of an individual approach to learning that meets the child's identified educational needs, raises aspirations and improves life chances.  

The quality of the PEP is the joint responsibility of the local authority that looks after the child and the school.  Social workers, carers, Virtual School Headteachers, Designated Teachers and other professionals need to work closely together and involve the child at every stage of the process.

In Northumberland the standard of the PEPs is quality assured by the Virtual School.   

Pupil Premium Plus is dispersed to schools according to the Virtual School Pupil Premium Plus Policy and is dependent on the PEP meeting the required standards through the quality assurance process.
Pupil Premium Plus is government grant funding to accelerate the progress and raise the attainment of looked after and previously looked after children.

For a summary of everything you need to know about Pupil Premium Plus in Northumberland:
  • 10 things you should know about Pupil Premium Plus
For Northumberland's policy for the dispersal of Pupil Premium Plus: For guidance on the use of Pupil Premium Plus:
The Virtual School respects the right of each looked after child to have the opportunity to be heard, so that children's voices influence our future practice.  This can sometimes be difficult and daunting for children. To make it easier for them, we:
  • encourage all looked after children to attend their multi-agency PEP meetings
  • have a pupil views section in the ePEP
  • ask each child to use the Mind of My Own app 
  • send out regular online questionnaires to schools and carers
When using the Mind of My Own app children can create their own account which can be used on any device at any time.  Children can use the app to contact ESLAC or a member of their care team to say anything that is important to them.
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 schools 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.

Tel: 01670 622779

The Virtual School Headteacher is Jane Walker.
The Virtual School Deputy Headteacher is Tara Prescott.

The Schools’ Safeguarding team provides services to make sure that children in schools and education settings are safe to learn.

Arrangements for safeguarding children in Northumberland can be found on the Northumberland Strategic Safeguarding Partnership webpage.

A bulletin called Safe to Learn is distributed to schools, academies and education providers across Northumberland every half term.

Bookings for the training programme for Designated Safeguarding Leads can be made here:
Virtual School Training Programme 2020-21

The NSSP's Schools' Engagement sub-group has developed the following guides to support Designated Safeguarding Leads through the referral process to Early Help and Social Care services: Education settings are all required to comply with the DfE's statutory guidance for safeguarding children: Training is available from the NSSP for schools/academies to access, and as detailed in the brochure for 2017-18: For a summary of requirements and responsibilities please view and download our leaflets: We have developed a template Whole School Drug Policy 2020 for schools to adopt and adapt, written in relation to the safegurading of young people involved in a drug related incident in school and the procedures for schools to follow should an incident occur.

In response to the JTAI, we have highlighted the increased vulnerability of young people on fixed term exclusions as a result of their involvement in a drug related incident.
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  attendance of permanently excluded children  children in entertainment employment (and their chaperones)

The Education Welfare Team works to ensure that the local authority’s statutory duties and other responsibilities for safeguarding children in relation to the criteria listed are carried out to the highest possible standard.

The Education Welfare team promotes and enforces regular attendance at school and alternative provision for all children, including looked after children, vulnerable learners and those students with an education health care plan (EHCP), in order for them to take full advantage of the educational opportunities available to them.

Work is undertaken on behalf of children in partnership with their parents, schools, alternative providers, and other professionals, to enable each pupil the maximum opportunity to benefit from their educational entitlement.

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.

To refer a pupil to Education Welfare please complete the form below and return it to

Child Employment: We need to know about all children who are of school age and are employed. The work must be suitable and must not affect the child's health or education. Employment is any type of paid or voluntary work carried out for any person, organisation or business that can be deemed to be the employer of the child.

Please click here to apply for a child employment, child entertainment, or chaperone licence.

For a summary of key services provided by the Education Welfare Team please view our leaflets below:

The quality of education provision for pupils who attend alternative education providers on the Council's procurement framework is monitored through the Education Welfare Team.  The service is delivered with the Children's Commissioning Team.

A Lead Education Welfare Officer has responsibility for monitoring the attendance of pupils engaged in alternative provision to ensure that they are effectively safeguarded and receive their entitlement to a full time suitable education.
Elective Home Education (EHE) is the term used by the DfE to describe a parent's decision to provide education for their children at home instead of sending them to school.

The responsibility for a child’s education rests with their parents. In England, education is compulsory but school is not.  If a child is not educated at school then parents should be providing a suitable full time education at home, and this is referred to as elective home education (or EHE).

For further information and contact details:
If you are considering home educating in response to a school-based issue, please take advice available from the council’s lead officer for elective home education (EHE) or one of the independent home education organisations before making a decision. 
EOTAS is the name given to education provision which is not at school.

The EOTAS Health Needs team 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. For a summary of the service provided by this team please view and download our leaflet: 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 medical or health needs, please telephone 01670 624182.
Education Welfare fulfils the local authority's statutory duty to identify, safeguard and re-engage children missing education.

The local authority has a duty to identify and engage with pupils who are not receiving their
entitlement to full time education. Full time education is defined as 25 hours per week for 39
weeks per year. These pupils are either at risk of missing out on or are missing out on full
time education. The Education Welfare team delivers this service for Northumberland local authority.

Our arrangements have been developed in partnership with the NSSP and enable us to establish the identities of children in our area who are not on roll 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 from education.

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

The Lead Education Welfare Officer (LEWO), Dawn Westerby,  is the ‘named person’ for Children Missing from Education (CME).

Northumberland's arrangements can be downloaded here:

For further advice or guidance please contact Education Welfare 01670 622800 or email