Image demonstrating Virtual School achieves good academic outcomes

Virtual School achieves good academic outcomes

Results outlined in the annual Virtual School Headteacher’s Annual Report - which presents the education outcomes of Northumberland’s looked after children for the academic year 2016-17 - shows progress from their starting point of entry into care in reading/writing/English and mathematics is good for all year groups. 

There is good news for looked after children in the early years stage of their education in Northumberland. For the second consecutive year there has been an increase in the number of looked after children with a good level of development (GLD) in Early Years, from 40% to 43%. 

Northumberland County Council’s Virtual School is the champion of good educational outcomes for Northumberland's looked after children.  Although the Virtual School Headteacher has overarching responsibility, schools play a key role and by working closely together they drive improvement. 

County Councillor Wayne Daley, Deputy Leader and cabinet member for children’s services said:  “It is very encouraging to see the pupils’ achievement this year.  In the phonics test for age 6 pupils, results have risen sharply from 20% to 80% of pupils assessed as working at the expected standard. This phonics check provides a marker for the language development of pupils and indicates that the majority of the county’s younger looked after children are on track to achieve a good level of fluency in their reading.

“We have seen good results in older pupils too.  Even though national expectations at age 11 are very challenging, the success rate of Key Stage 2 pupils in the combined measure of reading, writing and maths has more than doubled since last year to 29.4% - this now compares well with the national standard.“

Other positive results outlined in the report show:
  • Both the percentage of looked after pupils classed as persistent absentees and overall attendance have remained relatively constant and in line with regional and national averages. 
  • For the third consecutive year, the proportion of pupils progressing to further education and sixth forms has remained high at 80% or above which is a positive trend and much better than the national average. 
  • Almost 100% (28 out of 29) of pupils who completed accredited courses in Year 11 were engaged in further education, training or employment in the following academic year starting September 2017. 
  • Progress from the starting point of entering care is good at Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 with around 80% of pupils making the expected progress, particularly in English. 
  • Careful commissioning of alternative provision by the Virtual School and effective challenge to schools and academies has sustained the record of no permanent exclusion of a Northumberland looked after child since 2008. 
However, there are still areas where work needs to be done:
  • Progress scores for Northumberland’s looked after pupils from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2 in reading and writing are below the national average, as is their attainment in mathematics and English in Key Stage 2. 
  • Despite the relentless efforts of the Virtual School, social workers and IROs (independent reviewing officers), fixed term exclusions increased significantly in 2016 to 19.7% which is well above national and regional averages. Virtual School data for 2017 however indicates that the interventions are having a longer term impact, with exclusions for pupils in Years 9, 10 and 11 starting to reduce. 
The full report can be read here:
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