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Hertfordshire Virtual School

From September 2021, Hertfordshire Virtual School will work in partnership with children’s services and early years settings, schools, colleges and other education providers to ensure that children with a social worker will reach their full potential and make greater educational progress in early years.

This will build on Hertfordshire Virtual School’s statutory work which has improved outcomes for looked after children and on our offer for previously looked after children.

How we will do this:

The Virtual School will champion system change and has designed a tiered response to this duty. We hope to enable all partners involved in the education of children known to a social worker to work better together so that partnerships are enhanced, engagement in education increases and that all young people reach their potential. 

We will

  • Provide advice and information to frequently asked questions online, telephone advice line and by specialist surgery support.
  • Provide advice to individual headteachers, principals, designated safeguarding leads, social workers, SENCOs/INCOs schools, colleges and early years provision where they have a query.
  • Advise schools/colleges/early years provision and social workers on how they can work together to support improvements in attendance, punctuality and behaviour avoiding exclusion.
  • Support schools, colleges and early years settings to work towards attachment and trauma awareness through use of our online toolkit.( Link to toolkit here)
  • Advise schools and early years settings on how to best to use Pupil Premium to promote attendance, punctuality, attainment and progress.
  • Bring together all partners and in-house Children’s Services colleagues to help remove the significant barriers to education of adversity and trauma, most commonly abuse and neglect, that these children and young people experience

What are the limits to this duty?

We will not: 

  • work with individual children, young people and their families - including tracking and monitoring educational progress of individuals or providing academic or other interventions.
  • respond to requests from parents or carers to offer advice, intervention and support in relation to individual children with a social worker.
  • take responsibility for children with Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) who do not require or need a social worker.

Why do we have this new duty?

The Government’s children in need review recognised the crucial role that Virtual School Heads have in helping education settings and local authorities work together, and made a commitment to explore the capacity needed to extend their leadership to the cohort of children and young people with a social worker.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected all children and for many of the most vulnerable has increased barriers to education. It is essential that the cohort of children with a social worker are supported to recover from the pandemic.

What is required:

  • make visible the disadvantages that children with a social worker can experience, enhancing partnerships between education settings and local authorities to help all agencies hold high aspirations for these children.
  • promote practice that supports children’s engagement in education, recognising that attending an education setting can be an important factor in helping to keep children safe from harm.
  • level up children’s outcomes and narrow the attainment gap so every child can reach their potential. This will include helping to make sure that children with a social worker benefit from support to recover from the impact of COVID-19.
  • enhancing partnerships between education settings and the local authority so agencies can work together.
  • identifying the needs of the cohort and addressing barriers to poor educational outcomes and ensure pupils make educational progress.
  • offering advice and support to key professionals to help children make progress, including through increasing their confidence in using evidence-based interventions.

More details about our graduated approach can be found in our Virtual School offer for children in need of a social worker document (PDF 317KB)Opening in a new window