Virtual School Team

We make sure that all Children Looked After (CLA) and previously looked after (POST CLA) get an appropriate education to meet their needs and help them fulfil their potential.

Children Looked After (CLA)

Nationally, research has shown that as a group, CLA education outcomes are poor in comparison to their peers, but it is recognised that a good education helps their transition to a successful and fulfilling adult life.

Our virtual school brings together information about all children who are looked after by the council - as if they were in a single school. It allows us to closely track each child’s progress and ensure we can identify the specific support they may need at an early stage, so we can work with individual schools to implement any actions.

As the corporate parent of Children Looked After (CLA) we have a duty to provide the kind of support that any good parent would provide for their own children.

Previously looked after children (POST CLA)

This specifically concerns those children who were CLA and are now subject to one of the following:

  • Adoption Order
  • Special Guardianship Order
  • Child Arrangement Order.

For these children and families the virtual school provides a link to services and support.

Virtual School Head Extended Duties - Children with a Social Worker

We work with every school that is educating a child looked after by Wigan Council. Every school has a designated teacher tasked with tracking, supporting and promoting the educational achievement of those children.

The extended duty of the Virtual School Head is focused around the strategic leadership of driving improved outcomes and creating a culture of high aspirations for children with a social worker. This involves;

  • Working collaboratively with key stakeholders to enhance partnerships between education settings and the local authority so agencies can work together
  • Identifying the cohort’s needs and intervene to overcome barriers to poor educational outcomes and ensure pupils reach their potential
  • Supporting and advising key professionals to help children make progress, including through increasing their confidence in using evidence-based interventions.

The extended role of the Virtual School Head does not involve:

  • Working with individual children and their families - including tracking and monitoring educational progress of individual children
  • Responding to requests from parents or carers to offer advice and support in relation on individual children with a social worker
  • Assuming responsibility for children with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities.

What we do

We work with every school that is educating a child looked after by Wigan Council. Every school has a designated teacher tasked with tracking, supporting and promoting the educational achievement of those children.

Our team of education advisers and support workers provides help to individual members of staff, staff groups and children.

  • Advice and support to schools, social workers, residential homes and carers and challenge them where necessary 
  • Direct support and intervention with children in school - academic, social, emotional, behavioural and attendance issues
  • Termly tracking and monitoring all aspects of a child’s attendance, attainment and progress
  • Attendance at, and guidance for, Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings
  • Manage the pupil premium plus for children looked after and ensure schools are allocated funds according to need. This fund is managed by the Virtual School
  • Support the application for pupil premium plus for children POST CLA. This fund is then managed by the school
  • Audit of PEP including the scrutiny of quality target setting
  • Training for all professionals involved with the education of CLA
  • Termly network meetings for schools to address new legislation and guidance.

Who we are

The Virtual School Team have an in-depth understanding of national guidance and statutory requirements, current research and best practice in schools and other councils. The team includes:

  • Virtual School Head - Responsible for the strategic leadership of the Virtual School, promoting the educational attendance, attainment, and progress of Children Looked After, previously looked after and those children who have ever had a Social Worker. The Virtual School Head is also responsible for managing Pupil Premium funding for the children they look after and for allocating it, to meet educational need
  • Virtual School Team Manager - Responsible for providing high quality support, guidance and where appropriate challenge, to school leadership and governance to enhance the progress, achievement and participation of Wigan’s CLA. The Virtual School Team Manager is also responsible for the operational management of the Virtual School which will include managing services and systems
  • Virtual School Inclusion Manager - Responsible for working with schools and settings in supporting Children Looked After when there are concerns with attendance, those at risk of suspension, and supporting children missing in education (CME) to support them with timely admission into school. The Inclusion Manager works with schools, settings and other key partners to address barriers to attendance for CLA and all children with a Social Worker
  • Virtual School Post 16 and Transition Manager - Our Post 16 and Transition manager ensures all pre-school settings, schools, education, employment and training providers and partners promote skills for life, high aspirations and well supported transitions to positive destinations at every stage for all children and young people supported by the Virtual School. Our Post 16 and Transition Manager also ensures our Post 16 looked after children and young people are supported with their education, employment and training pathways to prevent them becoming NEET
  • PEP Quality Assurance Teachers - Our PEP Quality Assurance Teachers scrutinise the PEPs of all our school age CLA to ensure appropriate targets are set to improve their educational outcomes. They offer support, influence and challenge to ensure that young people’s educational placement stability, progress and outcomes are being prioritised and their views, wishes and feelings about their education are listened to, fully considered and appropriately responded to
  • Education Engagement Officers for CLA - The officers work directly with our Wigan CLA to address barriers within education which might be preventing them from fully engaging in their learning. Direct work may involve; attending PEP meetings, delivering drawing and talking interventions, attending home visits, delivering early language interventions, reading, writing and spelling interventions, supporting PEP/EHCP alignment, facilitating mentoring, restorative justice and transition support, signposting schools and settings to other support agencies and services when necessary, attending multi agency meetings and offering enhanced, targeted support for CLA where appropriate which is driven by data and information from the PEPs
  • Virtual School Team Business Support - Often the first point of contact at the VST, the Virtual School Team Business Support Officer is responsible for maintaining our Virtual School roll and supports with cascading any new information to the team, managing finance, arranging training and by completing the other administrative tasks which allows the VST to function efficiently on a day-to-day basis.


All CLA should be in a good or outstanding school and applications for a school will be referred to the virtual school head teacher. It is the responsibility of the social worker to action school admissions and transfers.

Discussions around appropriate schools should be taken within a CLA or PEP review, in consultation with education professionals.

If you would like further information around the education of children looked after by Wigan please contact us.

Other resources for CLA and POST CLA

  • Free instrumental music tuition for CLA - Usually delivered in school but can occasionally be arranged to take place in other settings. Lessons, instrument loan and ensemble membership are available as part of the offer. Contact the Wigan Music Service
  • Free gym passes - All CLA in Wigan, aged 14 - 18 years, are entitled to a free gym pass for our gyms available from Be Well leisure centres. An application form should be completed by the child’s allocated social worker - apply for a care leavers free gym pass
  • Together for adoption (external link) is the local regional adoption agency. They can offer advice and support to families post adoption.

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