Virtual School for Children in Care

Our aim is to improve the life opportunities for children in care by supporting their education and helping them to achieve the best they can.

Virtual School contact details


Mark Storey is the Headteacher of the Virtual School

General enquiries

What is the Virtual School?

Brighton & Hove’s Virtual School was established in 2011 in order to maximise the educational progress of approximately 300 Children in Care (CiC). We track their attainment, attendance and exclusion as if they were on one school roll. The school is ‘virtual’ in the sense that students do not actually attend as most go to school in Brighton & Hove or in other local authorities. Children in Care are a highly vulnerable group of children and young people for whom educational outcomes are known to be significantly poorer than for the non-looked after population.  The purpose of the Virtual School is to help remove barriers to CiC's education and ensure equality of access to a first class education.  It is well documented that life chances are significantly linked to educational achievement and for this reason our key aim is that every child fulfils their potential.

The Virtual School promotes the education of Children in Care by supporting schools, foster carers, social workers and other partners to promote high aspirations for CiC throughout their school career and aim towards progression into further and higher education. The Virtual School will put in place or streamline appropriate systems and structures to aid achievement of these children. The VS will also challenge, support and intervene where pupils are not making appropriate progress.

The Virtual School has a team of committed professionals with a wide breadth of expertise and has been successful in improving outcomes for Children in Care. The Virtual School is now keen to sustain these improvements and further narrow the gap between Children in Care and all children, working with a range of partners including schools, colleges, universities, foster carers and social workers.

The Virtual School works mainly with Children and Young People aged 3 to 18.

What does the Virtual School do?

The Virtual School collects information about educational progress. If a child or young person is not meeting age related expectations, making adequate progress or achieving their potential, then the Virtual School will address this. Below is a list of some of the things we do to support children and young people and our partners:

  • Provide training and challenge to a range of organisations and professionals, including Attachment training to support Attachment Aware and inclusive practice
  • Raise awareness and encourage high educational and future aspirations for Children in Care with organisations and professionals
  • Listen to the views of Children in Care and use their feedback to improve services to them
  • Collate accurate data on Children in Care so their educational progress can be tracked and monitored. This data will be shared as appropriate and used to inform early and effective interventions in educational settings and at home.
  • Ensure Pupil Premium is distributed and used effectively to maximise educational outcomes
  • Ensure that Children in Care attend schools that best meet their needs, and provide support regarding school admissions process
  • Have oversight of the Personal Educational Planning system ensuring that PEPs and POPs are highly effective and completed termly
  • Consider the holistic needs of CiC, particularly their social, emotional and mental health (SEMH) needs and their social relationships and friendships, which have a huge impact on their overall outcomes
  • Signpost children to organisations and activities they are interested in as well as providing a range of after school clubs
  • Celebrate the educational achievements of Children in Care
  • Arrange for students of all ages to have interventions to support their learning including 1:1 tuition, Every Child a Reader, Every Child Counts, and Letterbox Club
  • Provide advice and support to foster carers, school staff and social workers
  • Access consultation, support and advice from relevant teams, e.g. Educational Psychology Service and Learning Support Services, particularly around SEND issues

Why do we need a Virtual School?

While many Children in Care do very well at school, a significant number have had such major disruptions to their learning that they fall behind. This has a huge impact on their future life chances. The Virtual School aims to raise the profile of Children in Care, so that everything is done to ensure they have a successful education and achieve the best they can.

At the Virtual School the aim is to ensure that all children and young people in care:

  • Achieve educationally to their full potential
  • Attend a school that best suits their needs
  • Are not excluded from school
  • Maintain a high level of attendance
  • Enter employment, education or training when they leave school


Further information about the Virtual School



Educational plans


Links to other teams and services