Virtual School

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.

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 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.

Follow this link 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 is the champion of good education outcomes for Northumberland's looked after and previously 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 and previoulsy 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 - although pupils are enrolled at and remain the responsibility of  real schools;
  • an 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;
  • Ofsted inspection (inspecting local authorities' children's services framework).
Training and support for Designated Teachers of looked after and previously looked after children in Northumberland can be accessed here:
For general enquiries or to contact the Virtual School Headteacher, Jane Walker
The ESLAC team works with professionals to create the right conditions for look after children to learn.

ESLAC supports schools and looked after children to achieve the very best they can by:
  • ensuring that the on-line Personal Education Plans (ePEPs) are completed by Designated Teachers to a high standard;
  • quality assuring the ePEPs to ensure that outcomes are identified for all pupils which meet individual needs and accelerate progress;
  • ensuring looked-after children are prioritised and fast-tracked wherever possible through our services;
  • advising and supporting Designated Teachers, parents/carers and social care staff regarding the education of looked-after and previously looked-after children;
  • remaining up-to-date with the latest government advice and good practice.
ESLAC support to meet the identified needs of individual learners from the age of 2 until 19+ can include:
  • negotiating alternative provision, facilitating managed moves, supporting re-integration into school;
  • support and intervention from our Education Psychologist;
  • 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:
  • co-ordinating 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.
Team Manager, Toni McGuire
Assistant Team Manager, Tara Prescott
Performance and Data Officer, Adele Stevens
Education Psychologist, Carol Booth
Education Psychologist (previously looked after children), Louise Brennand
Senior Education Support Worker, Sheila Kirkup
Education Support Worker, Julie Robson Grainger
Education Support Worker, Alison Hindhaugh
KS4 Inclusion Support Worker, Carol Booth
Careers Adviser, Andrea Johnson
Careers Adviser 18+, Jo Robson
Admin Assistant, Yvetter Arnold
Clerical Assistant, Toby Redford
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.

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).

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 LSCB'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 Northumberland's LSCB 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 January 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 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.

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 a parent's decision 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:
  • 10 things you should know about elective home education
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 given to education provision which is not at school. Alternative education is arrange by the local authority for pupils who are unable to attend school as a result of permanent exclusion or for health and medical reasons.

Education provision for pupils who have been permanently excluded from school is provided through the Education Welfare Team.  The support provided for children and their families includes:
  • quality assurance of alternative providers on the Northumberland County Council Alternative Provision Framework;
  • supporting pupils and their families;
  • stabalising placements and liaising with altnerative providers about progress;
  • preparing pupils for re-integration into school;
  • advice and guidance on inclusive practice.
Alternative Providers on the Northumberland framework are quality assured through contract compliance, school improvement partners and the Education Welfare team.

To learn more about the alternative providers on the Council's framework please view the most recent brochure: For further information about commissioning places in Alternative Provision for pupils on the roll of your school, please see our guidance leaflet (revised version available from January 2019):
  • 10 things you should know about alterative provision placements
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.For a summary of the service provided by this team please view and download our leaflet (revised version available from January 2019):
  • 10 things you should know about the education of pupils with health needs
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 please telephone 01670 624183 .

For advice or guidance if a pupil has medical or health needs, please telephone 01670 622720.