School pupils and teacher

Virtual School

Promoting the education of looked-after children and previously looked-after children.

Reading Virtual School logo

The Local Authority has a statutory duty under the Children Act 1989 to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child looked after by them. This includes a particular duty to promote the child’s educational achievement, wherever they live or are educated. The Children and Families Act 2014 amended the Children Act 1989 to require the Local Authority to appoint at least one person, in this case, the Virtual School Headteacher, for the purpose of discharging the local authority’s duty to promote the educational achievement of their looked-after children and previously looked-after children.

The Virtual School Headteacher has a key role to ensure that looked-after children have the maximum opportunity to reach their full educational potential – an important part of why this role was made statutory.

  • For looked-after children, as part of a local authority’s corporate parent role, the Virtual School Headteacher needs to be the educational advocate that parents are for others
  • For previously looked-after children, the Virtual School Headteacher will be a source of advice and information to help their parents to advocate for them as effectively as possible. The Virtual School Headteacher is not acting as part of the corporate parent role in these circumstances, but is there to promote the educational achievement of previously looked-after children through the provision of advice and information

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