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3.5.3 Role and Responsibilities of the Virtual Headteacher

Role of the Virtual Headteacher

The core purpose of the Virtual Headteacher is to be relentless in driving up improvements in the educational progress and attainment of all Looked After Children (LAC), including those that have been placed in schools in other Local Authority areas. They also have an important role in working in partnership with Virtual Headteachers and/or Virtual School Heads in other Local Authorities to support the educational progress of children who are in their schools but looked after by other Local Authorities. Because LAC are being educated across a large number of schools, the Virtual Headteacher has a powerful role in tracking their progress as if they were in a single school.

Key Responsibilities of the Virtual Headteacher

The three key areas of responsibility of the Virtual Headteacher are:

  • To ensure that there is a system to track and monitor the attainment and progress of LAC to:
    • Rigorously track and monitor data on where LAC are at school and their progress, in a similar way to a Head Teacher of any school;
    • Ensure that schools know which children are Looked After and make sure that there is a Personal Education Plan (PEP) for all LAC and one-to-one support where appropriate;
    • Maintain an accurate record of the location and educational progress of LAC in their Local Authority, including those whom they look after but are placed in another Local Authority or a non-Local Authority school and those who are looked after by another Local Authority but educated in this one;
    • Act where necessary and work towards improving overall attainment, by maximising achievement and progress of both individual and cohorts of LAC;
    • Ensure that the Head Teacher and the Designated Teacher in each school know which of the children on their roll are in care, and what can be done to support them.
  • To ensure that all LAC have a robust and effective Personal Education Plan (PEP) and access one-to-one support, including personal tuition where appropriate by:
    • Working with relevant professionals to ensure PEPs are of a high quality, subject to a rigorous monitoring and evaluation process, with impacts and outcomes that are followed up. In conjunction with education advisors they should challenge schools and others when appropriate to improve the quality of the PEP and promote faster progress;
    • They should also ensure that LAC are able to access one-to-one tuition and additional support wherever appropriate. They should also explore other sources of additional funding/support e.g. Pupil Premium for LAC.
  • To champion the educational needs of LAC across the Local Authority and those placed out of Local Authority by:
    • Championing the needs of LAC across the Local Authority and spread effective practice, particularly in relation to improving behaviour and attendance, promoting stability of placement and school stability through admissions policies and use of school transport;
    • Working with others in Local Authorities and schools to ensure that measures are taken across the Local Authority to promote positive behaviour, good attendance, and reduce exclusions, which should in turn lead to good progress and improved attainment;
    • Ensuring social workers adequately consider the educational needs of LAC when a child/young person comes into care or when taking decisions about moving placements. Where moving placements is absolutely essential, wherever possible a new placement should be found which enables continuity of schooling but at Key Stage 4 ensures there is no change of educational placement. The Virtual Headteacher should take responsibility for making sure that admission powers to admit LAC to the most appropriate school are used wherever necessary, and they should ensure that school transport is provided as required to help children stay in the same school.