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.

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 teacher – monitoring and challenging the education provision for all CLA and managing the Pupil Premium Plus funding to raise attainment for CLA
  • Virtual school senior teacher – supporting and monitoring curriculum delivery across primary and secondary schools and managing primary staff
  • Virtual School Pastoral Manager– supporting and monitoring attendance across primary and secondary schools and managing secondary staff
  • Education support workers for CLA – delivering direct intervention with children, mentoring children, supporting and challenging other professionals (including social care staff and foster carers) to deliver high quality education provision appropriate to the needs of the child
  • Education Support Worker for POST CLA – liaising with foster carers, adoptive families, and special guardians. Supporting access to appropriate education and training settings, support for families within their locality and helping navigate the education services available
  • Personal Education Plan (PEP) Quality Assurance Officers – attending PEP meetings for children placed outside Wigan and those in POST 16 settings. Ensuring plans are appropriate to meet the child’s needs, processes are appropriately followed and local resources are utilised with the ultimate goal to ensure children have access to high quality appropriate education and training.


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.

© Wigan Council