Virtual School Team
The Virtual School monitors the educational outcomes for all children in care.
They work closely with other professionals, together with parents and carers, to ensure that children receive the best education possible and get the support you need.
The Virtual School Headteacher
The Headteacher’s role is to lead and manage the work of the Virtual School across Devon. They monitor the achievements of all children in care in Devon, support pupils, schools and staff as appropriate and challenge what is provided if necessary.
The Virtual School Manager
The Virtual School Manager is the central point of contact for the Virtual School. They coordinate the work of the School and support the Headteacher in ensuring the overall effectiveness of the School in its aim to close the attainment and progress gap between children in care and their peers.
The Virtual School Team supports and challenges schools and social workers to ensure we achieve this. You can find out more about the Virtual School team roles using the tabs below.
Contact the team
- Area learning advocates
- Welfare and inclusion
- Quality assurance and data
- Other professionals
- Governing body
- Area learning advocatesWelfare and inclusion
There are four area learning advocates (ALAs) working across Devon. An advocate is someone who can speak on your behalf because they know you really well. Each one is responsible for children in care in schools in a particular area of Devon and they will get to know them, how they are getting on, what they do really well and about their needs. The ALAs will work with the school, parent or carer and together with other professionals will ensure that children in care are well supported and that their voice is heard. They can help identify additional support and will keep the Virtual School headteacher informed so that they know what is happening across Devon.Quality assurance and data
Specialist children in care education welfare officers
The education welfare officers for children in care work closely with children in care, carers and schools and other agencies to promote, encourage and support regular school attendance and to reduce unnecessary absence and truancy.
Inclusion officers may be called by a school when a child in care is experiencing difficulties possibly resulting in exclusion from school. Inclusion officers would involve learning advocates in working with schools to look at the provision and any additional resources which would help the child/young person to re-engage with their learning. Should the need for a change of school be needed the inclusion officer will organise a protocol meeting, following Devon’s agreed protocol for eliminating exclusion and assist in identifying the new school for the young person to transfer.
For more information see Education Inclusion Service.Other professionals
Quality assurance officers
The people in this team help make sure that the services we provide the best they can be. This can include anything from monitoring the quality of Personal Education Plans, to checking the teaching and learning provision at independent schools, running celebration days and providing reports.
Administration and data support
The staff in this team act as a central contact point for any queries from schools and other professionals regarding the education of our children in care, they monitor the team mailbox and send out relevant information, requests and guidance to our designated teachers. The data staff ensure our records are kept up to date via the EMS One system and produce our weekly Virtual School Roll.Governing body
Personal education plan (PEP) coordinators
The PEP coordinators work with children, foster carers, parents, school staff, social workers and other agencies to plan, coordinate and arrange personal education plan meetings and to ensure the voice of the child is at the heart of the process.
Every school and setting has by law to appoint a senior member of staff to champion the needs of children in care who are in their school. This person will be present at most meetings and will lead ensuring the personal education plan meets the educational needs of each child. They also have to provide an annual report to the School’s Governing body/board of Directors.
In school mentor
This may be a teacher or a member of support staff who has been specially trained to support children in care and will work with them on a one-to-one basis. They will work with the designated teacher.
The governing body of the Virtual School fulfils three core functions:
- To ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction.
- To hold the ‘virtual’ headteacher to account for the educational performance of the pupils on roll.
- To ensure resources are utilised to best effect and have maximum impact on outcomes for pupils.
It is the function of the virtual governing body to develop a deep understanding of the issues surrounding the virtual school and to be able to ask well-informed questions to ensure all of the pupils on roll at the virtual school are able to make the best progress and have their needs met. The governing body will champion the needs of the pupils and utilise its combined expertise and experience to ensure resources are made available and outcomes improve.
The Virtual School staff will also work closely with your school, together with other professionals such as school advisors, school improvement officers, social workers, independent review officers and staff in schools. The Virtual School will promote and champion the specific needs of children in care and work to ensure any professional support is linked and effective.
Educational psychologists work in every school/educational establishment in Devon and prioritise support for children in care. This will include practical advice and training for the Designated Teacher and In-School Mentor. In addition, educational psychologists provide education support for fostering panels and the Service Around the Child Team.
Governor personal statements
Virtual School Headteacher and Head of Education and Learning, Statement available at hwww.devon.gov.uk/head-education-learning
As chair of the Virtual School it is my duty to work with the Virtual School Headteacher and fellow governors, to make sure our children in care receive the best education. The close working relationship between Education and Children’s Social Care is essential to meet the many challenges these young people have.
I’m Sarah – a mother, foster carer, school governor and ex-teacher. I grew up in Bristol and went to Warwick University where I qualified as a teacher in maths and PE. I taught at a middle school before I had my family of 4 children who all learn in different ways. One of my children is dyslexic and another has Aspergers Syndrome so I understand helping children with special educational needs. I was a governor in my local primary school for 8 years chairing the Curriculum Committee; I enjoyed being involved in planning the future of the school. I went into school frequently, volunteering to hear the children read and helping with other activities. For the last 5 years I have been a foster carer looking after many children, all with their own needs and abilities. Where possible I have enjoyed interacting with their families and helping them understand the needs of their children.
Debbie is the team leader of the Governance Consultancy Team within Babcock LDP and has more than 20 years experience of school governance. The team provides information, advice, training and support to school governors in a varied range of school settings across Devon and the wider south west. Prior to joining the Governor Team Debbie worked in the voluntary sector in Exeter and is committed to ensuring that all volunteers have the training and support they need to fulfil their role. Debbie’s role on the Board is to represent Babcock LDP School Effectiveness Team and to ensure that the Board probes and asks challenging questions of the Virtual School Headteacher when it comes to the educational outcomes of the children and young people on roll.
Babcock Learning & Development Partnership (LDP) is partnered with Devon County Council in a joint venture arrangement to deliver school improvement services to schools and settings in Devon.
I am employed by Devon County Council as a social worker in the Fostering Team and have been in my current post for approximately 8 years. Prior to this I worked in the Child Care Assessment Team in Tiverton. I have been a qualified social worker since 1989 and have worked in childcare since then in various settings. I am a parent of 3 children, their experience at school and the time my husband has been a governor, has sparked my interest in becoming one. I am well aware that the children who are accommodated have potentially more hurdles to overcome than some other young people and it is crucial that we have a system which supports and promotes their education. The school my children attend is particularly proactive in supporting the young people they have who are in care and any dealings with them have been very positive. I also link in often with my foster carers as they support the young people in placements and are good advocates for them in various forums.
I manage the Participation Service within Children’s Social Work and have responsibility for ensuring that children and young people in, and leaving, care know their rights and have a say on service design, development and delivery. My team employs care-experienced apprentices and facilitates staff training, young people’s involvement in recruitment and selection, the Corporate Parenting Board, Takeover Challenge, the Children in Care Council and Youth Parliament. Before working for the Local Authority I worked in teaching and research at the University of Exeter and am a career mentor for graduates.
Devon County Councillor for Priory & St Leonards, Exeter. Up until September 2008 I was Professor of Education at Plymouth University. I became a county councillor in 2013 and have served on the People Scrutiny Committee, the Appeals Committee (school transport), the Governing Body Appointments Committee, the Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (Devon) and the Children’s Standing Overview Committee. I have also been Vice Chair of the Task Group on Educational Outcomes (2014), Chair of the Review of School Exclusions (2016) and a member of the Governing Body of the Children’s Learning Partnership (Wynstream Primary and Chestnut Nursery schools) from January 2013 until December 2015. I have previously been a member of primary school governing bodies in Birmingham and Exmouth. I am currently a member of the Advisory Board of the Central Children’s Centres (Chestnut, Countess Wear and Flying Start centres in Exeter).
I have worked in schools in Plymouth and Devon since 2001 in a wide range of educational settings, including secondary schools and for Plymouth LA. I have also worked with a number of higher education establishments, the most recent being the University of Cambridge to train teachers in Kazakhstan. I have been Headteacher of St James School, Exeter, since January 2015. I am determined to ensure all students thrive in education and gain experiences and skills which enable them to lead happy and successful lives.
As an executive member of the DAG Board (The Devon Association of Governors), I represent Devon Governors on DEMH (Devon Education Music Hub), Devon Education Fund and SOCA (Schools Organisation, Capital and Admissions Committee). For over 25 years I have been a school governor at a range of Exeter schools, from nursery through to secondary, covering maintained, federated and academy status. Throughout this time I have specialised in school resources (finance, administration and premises) as my background is in finance. I was with Devon County Council from 1999 until my retirement, dealing with environment projects, EU grants, school capital projects and social funding for the care of the elderly. I am married and have 3 children, the youngest of which has just started university.
I am the Senior Manager for Fostering, Adoption, Atkinson Children’s Home, Youth Offending Service, Corporate Parenting and am also Strategic Lead for Care Leavers. I have worked with Children’s Services for many years and have been with Devon County Council for 3 years. I am passionate about children gaining their best within their school and placement, that children and young people are given the opportunities to build confidence, resilience and attainment with every success celebrated and every challenge supported by the team that surrounds them.
I am currently the Deputy Headteacher at Pathfield School in Barnstaple, supporting the education for children with severe learning difficulties, profound and multiple learning difficulties and autism. In addition to supporting the day-to-day management of the school, my specific responsibilities include the tracking and monitoring of progress and attainment for pupils, the Designated Teacher for Children in Care and vulnerable groups, and the whole school curriculum. I have worked at Pathfield School for the past 12 years and previously taught in special schools in The New Forest and Berkshire. My teaching career began in secondary mainstream education specialising in music and PE where I taught in Cambridgeshire, Berkshire and West Wales, up to and including, A level. I am passionate about education and believe through strong partnership working we can provide the very best for the pupils in our care.
John Peart: statement tbc.
Governing body meetings: Attendance record 2015/16
A = In attendance / O = Absence sanctioned (apologies sent) / X = Absence not sanctioned (no apologies sent) / App = Appointed / Res = Resigned
Governor 03 Nov 2015 14 Dec 2015 09 Feb 2016 24 May 2016 19 July 2016 Dawn Stabb A A A A A James McInnes A A A A A Sue Clarke O A A A O Debbie Clapshaw O A A A A Sophie Ellis A O X X O John Peart O O O O X Abi Staff A O A A O Tim Rutherford A A A A A Andy Hannan A A A O A Sarah Denton A A A O A Rachel Gillott A O X X A Annie Monaghan App Paulette Furnival A A A O A – Res Clerks: Kirsty Forbes App A Lea Dempster A O Res