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 educationwelfare@northumberland.gov.uk: 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 EOTASHealth@northumberland.gov.uk: To refer to Education Support for Looked After Children (ESLAC) please call 01670 622779 or email us at ESLAC.info@northumberland.gov.uk
 
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;
  • statutory guidance from the Department for Education;
  • inspection from Ofsted
Training for Designated Teachers: From the Virtual School Headteacher: Essential information: Useful information:
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: 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
Email: eslac.info@northumberland.gov.uk 

Brunel Building
64 Regent Street
Blyth
Northumberland
NE24 1LT

The Virtual School Headteacher is Jane Walker.
The acting ESLAC Team Manager is Tara Prescott.


 
The Schools’ Safeguarding team provides services to create environments where vulnerable pupils are safe to learn, and they also monitor safeguarding standards in schools.

Arrangements for safeguarding children in Northumberland can be found on the Northumberland Strategic Safeguarding Partnership webpages. Please click here to view our safeguarding webpages.

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: 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: And  we also recommend: 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 (revised versions available from September 2019): 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:
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 
  • 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 educationwelfare@northumberland.gov.uk: 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 iis monitored through the Education Welfare Team.  The service is delivered with the Children's Commissioning Team.

To learn more about the alternative providers on the Council's framework please view the most recent brochure (updated version due January 2020): 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.

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.

Parents choose to home educate their children for a variety of reasons. Many will research what’s involved in detail before they make a considered and planned decision. But sometimes parents turn to home education as a reaction to a school-based issue.

If you are considering home educating in response to a school-based issue, don't withdraw your child from school before you have explored all the options. We encourage parents to take advice before deciding to home educate, either from the council’s lead officer for elective home education (EHE) or one of the independent home education organisations.

For a summary please view and download our leaflets:
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.  Pupils can still attend school part-time and receive EOTAS tuition, or have their full time education provided by our team of teachers.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 6232800 or email educationwelfare@northumberland.gov.uk