Proposal to establish a Governing Body for the Virtual School

1.  Statement of Purpose

The Essex Virtual School for Children in Care has a focus on improving educational outcomes and accelerating learning from Early Years to the end of Year 13. This is undertaken through ensuring that all children in care have a high quality and compliant Personal Education Plan (PEP) that has challenging and meaningful targets which are aspirational and includes the support needed to enable the plan to be achieved. The tracking of attainment, progress, attendance, exclusion, with early intervention to raise attainment and to reduce or remove barriers to education is a key activity of the Service, whilst ensuring all children in care have access to a high quality education.

In addition to fulfilling their educational potential and increasing life chances through academic achievement; it is a priority for young people leaving care to be positive and contributing members of their communities.

Celebrating and recognising achievements is an important role that encourages high aspirations and raises self- esteem.

Safeguarding children and young people in care is a priority that is threaded through all activities of the Essex Virtual School.

There are 4 main strands of focus for improvement of the Virtual School.

•  Raise attainment and accelerate progress for children in care across all key stages;

•  Improve school attendance and reduce exclusion;

•  Improve the quality of Personal Education Plans and;

•  Support school leadership to enhance a shared objective of improving life opportunities through education.

2.  Statutory Requirement

Promoting the Education of Looked After Children (DfE2014) Statutory Guidance

The statutory guidance sets out in detail the duties and responsibilities on Local Authority to promote the education of children in care. The governing body will use the guidance and framework to support improvements.

3.  Purpose of the group

The concept of a wider Essex Virtual School that will engage schools and other stakeholders to share the priorities of improving the educational outcomes for children in care is the ambition for the Virtual School in Essex. Developing and committing to the shared priorities and accountability to do better still, for our children in care is vital to achieving this ambition. Progress towards this will be achieved through a number of strands.

One strand will be through the development of a Governing body. The purpose of the Governing body will be to share responsibility for improvement, be the strategic lead and advocate within board members wider settings and to provide oversight and scrutiny to the work of the Virtual School Leadership team that will enhance improvements.

4.  Aims and objectives

·  To have a shared accountability and responsibility for the education of children in care across schools and Local Authority services.

·  To provide support and challenge on performance information and assessment and to underpin the focus of work going forward for the Virtual School Leadership Team.

·  Contribute to the engagement and ‘associate membership’ of wider settings to create a culture of high aspiration; to promote, challenge and advocate on behalf of children in care and the work of the Virtual School across Essex.

·  Provide oversight and scrutiny on the use of Pupil Premium Plus to ensure best value outcomes.

·  Identify and support any training and development needs of schools and stakeholders in meeting the educational needs of children in care.

·  Identify and support opportunities to celebrate success

·  Contribute to communications between the Virtual School and ‘wider Virtual School’ associate members.

·  Ensure all children in care have high quality and meaningful Personal Education Plans (PEP).

5.  Terms of reference

I.  To regularly consider reports presented by the Virtual School Head and members of the Leadership Team to be agreed in advance between the Governing body and Virtual School Head.

II.  To contribute to the regular self-evaluation of the Virtual School

III.  To contribute to and have oversight of the improvement plan and progress against objectives along with any recommendations from Ofsted inspection.

IV.  To engage and work with the wider setting(s) the member represents; to advocate, promote and challenge to ensure that children in care are a priority and progression is accelerated.

V.  School representatives will ensure that the educational needs of children in care are proactively addressed through a school-led improvement system.

VI.  Review and agree policy and practice proposals

VII. Contribute to the planning and participation at training and development opportunities

VIII.  Report annually to:

·  Corporate Parenting Panel

·  Partnership Board


6.  Proposed Membership

Name / Title / Organisation / Representing / Appointment
Cathryn Adams / Virtual School Head / Essex Virtual School / ECC
Headteacher or ASHE Professional Officer / Association of Secondary Headteachers (ASHE)Essex / Nominated by ASHE
Headteacher or ASHE Professional Officer / Association of Secondary Headteachers Essex (ASHE) / Nominated by ASHE
Headteacher or EPHA Professional Officer / Essex Primary Headteachers Association (EPHA) / Nominated by EPHA
Headteacher or ASHE
Professional Officer / Essex Primary Headteacher Association (EPHA) / Nominated by EPHA
Headteacher or ESSET Professional Officer / Essex Special Schools Education Trust (ESSET) / Nominated by ESSET
Early Years Service representative / Early Years Service ECC / Nominated by Early Years Service
Employability & Skills representative / Employability and Skills Service ECC / Nominated by E&S Team
School Improvement Partner / Lead Commissioner for SES / ECC
Director of Local Delivery / Social Care- Lead for children in care / ECC
Manager IRO Service / Independent Review Officer (IRO) Service / ECC
Foster Carers Network / Foster Carer / Foster Carers Network

Membership will be determined through nominations or expressions of interest. School representatives will be identified through their individual Headteacher Associations. The Chair will be nominated through expression of interest and vote at the inaugural meeting.

7.  Attendance by other Representatives

Other Local Authority officers will not be members of the Governing Body but may be asked to attend by invitation in order to advise, report and respond to relevant issues of interest to the accountability board.

8.  Terms of Office

It is expected that representatives will commit to serve on the Governing Body for a period of two years, after which there would be a further request for nominations or expressions of interest. In order to maintain some continuity there would be the option for existing members to be reappointed.

Representatives can resign at any time during the period by giving notice to the Virtual School Head. The nominating body would be requested to then seek further nominations through expressions of interest.

9.  Meetings

It is proposed that meetings would take place each school term.

Note taking to be agreed

Agenda setting and reports – to be carried out between the Chair and Virtual School Head

The Virtual School Head will chair the inaugural meeting at which time the Chair will be nominated and agreed.

10.  Training for Representatives

The first meeting will include an overview of the educational outcomes for children in care and general discussion about the learning needs of these disadvantaged learners.

Further training needs will be identified from this and other areas of discussion.

Cathryn Adams

Lead Commissioner for Education of Children in Care (Virtual School Head)

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