About the Virtual School in Reading

This section is about our Virtual School and how we can work together to help children looked after and care leavers achieve their educational goals

What is the Virtual School?

The Virtual School exists to raise educational attainment and aspiration and narrow the gap between looked-after children and their peers. Improving life chances and raising awareness of corporate parenting responsibilities is another key aspect of this work. There is absolute commitment from all members of the Virtual School to support children looked after (CLA) through strong advocacy and collaborative engagement.

The Virtual School champions the educational needs of children looked after, improves their life chances and raises awareness of corporate parenting responsibilities

The Virtual School maintains a school roll of all Reading’s children looked after including those out of authority, monitors Personal Education Plans, admissions, attendance and exclusions, and has a duty to promote the educational achievement of all looked-after children

The Virtual School offers training, support and guidance to Social Workers, Foster Parents, Designated Teachers, Governors and Schools

The Virtual School offers a range of support services for looked-after children which include 1 to 1 tutoring, in class behaviour support, advice and training, advocacy, transition work and placement support. Raising attainment levels, measuring pupil progress and creating bespoke support packages in order to offer life changing opportunities for every looked-after child are at the centre of this work

Reading Virtual School logo
  • To discharge the statutory duty to promote the educational achievement of looked-after children and previously looked-after children
  • To support looked-after children to achieve their educational goals and enable them to have more fulfilling careers, higher incomes, greater self-confidence and ultimately a better quality of life through attaining good qualifications and a positive school experience
  • To improve the educational attainment of looked-after children by narrowing the gap, raising expectation and effectively deploying the Pupil Premium Plus Grant

The Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings are to ensure that everyone is actively prioritising the education needs of children looked after. This aim is to carefully track their progress and support them to achieve and be aspirational in their future life goals.

The Personal Education Plan is a legal part of the care plan, which is a statutory requirement for all children looked after from the age of 3 years if in an education provision up to the age of 18.

These are conducted termly in the young person’s education setting involving the:

  • The young person
  • The social worker
  • The carer
  • Designated teacher

The PPPG provides additional £2300 of government funding for the education of children looked after (CLA). It is intended to be used to fund extra interventions for pupils in early year’s Reception to Year 11.  PPPG can help to drive up standards, support aspirations and narrow the gap in attainment. The allocation of Pupil Premium Plus Grant is linked to the completion of a high quality PEP for each child looked after to ensure that the money is being used effectively to support them to achieve their full educational potential.

Since April 2014 the distribution of Pupil Premium CLA has been managed by each Local Authority’s Virtual School Headteacher for looked after children. From 2015 this extends to the distribution of Early Years Pupil Premium for CLA.

An important part of the Virtual School’s work  is to provide advice, training  and  guidance to schools, social workers, Independent Reviewing Officers  (IROs) and carers about the statutory requirements relating  to a young person’s education. This can include guidance on choosing a school, in-year school transfers, supporting school attainment, and Y6 and Y11 transitions.

More recently the Virtual School has a statutory duty to provide educational information, advice and guidance regarding children:

  • Adopted from care
  • On special guardianship orders (SGO)
  • On child arrangement orders (CAO)

Our work includes advising/supporting parents, carer’s   schools and other relevant professionals. The Virtual School aims to help children and young people in care do as well as possible at school and in their learning. It provides support from pre-school and reception up to age 18, and care leavers (18-25).

Contact our Virtual School team

The Virtual School is here to support and promote children’s continued education while they are looked after. Please contact us about any queries you wish to discuss for children looked after, previously looked after or children with a social worker.

hand-drawn womanClare Houlton, Headteacher clare.houlton@brighterfuturesforchildren.org

hand-drawn womanSarah Cross Assistant Headteacher Secondary and Post 16 sarah.cross@brighterfuturesforchildren.org

hand-drawn womanBianca James – Assistant Headteacher: Children with a social worker bianca.james@brighterfuturesforchildren.org

hand-drawn manMatt Bevan – Assistant Headteacher EYFS and Primary matt.bevan@brighterfuturesforchildren.org

hand-drawn womanCathy McCarthy – Education Advisor, Children Previously Looked After and Children with a Social Worker


hand-drawn womanMichelle Winter – Inclusion Support Officer michelle.winter@brighterfuturesforchildren.org

hand-drawn womanLisa Palmer – Education Support Officer  lisa.palmer@brighterfuturesforchildren.org

hand-drawn womanRhiannon Begg – Data, Inclusion and Finance Manager rhiannon.begg@brighterfuturesforchildren.org

Click the button below to go to our Virtual School information page for parents

Information for parents

Success stories from the Virtual School in Reading