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Virtual School

Virtual School for Children Looked After and Children in Need

Welcome to the North East Lincolnshire Virtual School webpage. We hope that you are able to find all the information you require in the sections below. Should you have any questions or queries, please contact us.

We are dedicated to improving the educational experiences and outcomes of our children in care. We work with all relevant partners in education and social care to ensure that our children’s opportunities are the best they can be.

What we do

The Virtual School is a team of educational professionals working with schools and settings to ensure we all provide the best education for children and young people in our care. We sit within the wider Inclusion Services team, working closely with the SENDIASS team, school admissions, educational psychology, and education welfare services to support children looked after in our local authority.

We offer support, guidance and training to ensure that educational services are effective in maximising the progress that our children make in school. We do this through:

  • Tracking academic progress, attendance, and exclusions of Children Looked After.
  • Quality assuring all Personal Education Plans (PEPs)
  • Providing support and challenge to schools to ensure that academic standards are raised for Children Looked After
  • Ensuring Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) needs are identified and supported.
  • Ensuring effective transition between schools and/or specialist providers.
  • Monitoring and supporting schools to make effective use of the Pupil Premium Grant for Children Looked After.
  • Encouraging our young people to have high aspirations about their futures and removing barriers to further education.

Children Looked After are defined in the Children Act 1989 as one who is in the care of or provided with accommodation by an English local authority.

What is a Personal Education Plan (PEP)?

All children looked after must have a care plan, of which the Personal Education Plan (PEP) is an integral part.  It is an evolving record of what needs to happen for children looked after to support their learning and enable them to fulfil their potential.

At what age do children have a PEP?

It is a statutory requirement for children from age 3 to 18 to have an up-to-date PEP. 

Who should initiate the PEP?

All children looked after are allocated an inclusion officer from the Virtual School who is responsible for organising and facilitating the PEP meeting.

How often should a PEP be completed?

PEPs reviews need to take place at least once per term.  If a child is new to care or the school, a PEP should take place within 21 days.

Who is responsible for the PEP?

It is the joint responsibility of the local authority and the school to ensure that a child looked after has an up-to-date PEP.  The Virtual School are responsible for quality assuring the documentation.

Who should attend a PEP review?

  • Child / young person (where appropriate).  If the child / young person is not in attendance, then their views and wishes should be gathered prior to the meeting
  • Allocated Inclusion Officer
  • Designated Teacher
  • Social Worker
  • Carer / Key worker /Parents

What will be discussed during the PEP review?

  • Child / young person’s views
  • General updates / changes
  • Attainment and progress
  • Barriers to learning
  • Intervention and support
  • Attendance
  • SMART targets
  • Pupil Premium Plus

What will happen after the review meeting?

The allocated inclusion officer will produce the PEP following discussions in the review meeting.  This will then be disseminated to all related parties.

If you have any questions about the PEP process, please contact the allocated inclusion officer or email [email protected].

PEP timescales

At the end of previous PEP meetingInclusion Officer (IO)Set next meeting date
2 weeks prior to meetingInclusion OfficerCheck correct persons have been invited and have confirmed attendance
5 working days before review meetingDesignated teacherSubmit populated information to IO
review targets – progress and next steps
new targets – how to achieve
attendance, pupil voice, impact of PPP
5 working days before review meetingSocial workerSubmit populated information to IO
5 working days after review meetingInclusion OfficerFinalise PEP paperwork and send copy to all parties

Guidance on PPG and information for schools on how the North East Lincolnshire Virtual School administers the funding.

In this section you will find information on:

  • Pupil Premium Plus funding
  • NELC’s PP+ funding model
  • Using the Pupil Premium Plus: best practice guidance

Pupil Premium Plus Funding

Children who are in the care of our local authority from Reception to Year 11 are entitled to the Pupil Premium Plus Grant (PP+) funding, which is also known as CLA funding, LAC premium, or pupil premium grant.

PP+ funding is awarded to the Virtual School Head (VSH) in the local authority. VSH’s are responsible for managing Pupil Premium Plus funding and using effectively to benefit the educational needs. PP+ is allocated to local authorities based on the number of Looked After Children. For more information, please see Pupil Premium allocations and conditions of grant 2022-2023.

For schools

All schools that receive Pupil Premium Plus funding must publish a strategy statement each academic year using the Department for Educations template.  This strategy template is accompanied with guidance for school leaders.

Schools must be able to demonstrate how their use of Pupil Premium Plus to fund has been informed by research evidence. Schools are required to cite this evidence in their pupil premium strategy statement. More information on spending PP+ effectively can be found in ‘Using the Pupil Premium Plus: best practice guidance’ (link to this?)

Early Years Pupil Premium

Eligibility for the Early Years Pupil Premium is different for early years settings than for schools and is paid at a different rate. Read details from the Early years national funding allocations and guidance.

Previously Looked After Children Premium

Previously Looked After Children may also be eligible for Pupil Premium Plus Funding. In line with the Department for Educations guidance, previously looked after children who meet the requirements below are entitled:

  • Previously looked-after children (PLAC): pupils who were looked after by an English or Welsh local authority immediately before being adopted
  • Or who left local authority care on a special guardianship order or child arrangements order (previously known as a residence order).

The Pupil Premium Plus funding for this group of children is sent directly to schools. It is the responsibility of parents, guardians, or carers of previously looked after children to ensure the school is aware that a child was previously looked after.

Schools must include children who are previously looked after in their Census to receive funding.

NELC’s PP+ funding model

The full amount for the financial year 2022 to 23 is £2,410 per child in care. In North East Lincolnshire Council, an allocation will be paid termly to schools, linked to the Virtual School’s moderation of a sufficient termly PEP for eligible pupils.

Any remaining funding is managed directly by the North East Lincolnshire’s Virtual School Head to support children with greater levels of need or where interventions can be obtained more cost-effectively by commissioning in bulk.

For more information on our model, please view the NELC Policy and Strategy for Virtual School: Education of Children with a Social Worker, Looked After and Previously Looked After Children (

Using the Pupil Premium Plus: best practice guidance

Schools must use PPG funding for the purpose of raising the educational attainment of PLAC, LAC and pupils who are eligible for FSM Ever 6.

The Department for Education Endowment Foundation – Teaching learning toolkit.

Useful Guidance and Resources for educational professionals:

Links to further resources and reading to support children in care, including statutory policies. 

Local offers:

Statutory policies:

Further guidance:

The Virtual School offers training and support to educational and social care professionals who work with children looked after. Our approach is centred in Relational Practice and Emotion Coaching. We work closely with the Educational Psychology team and Educational Welfare Service to support professionals and children in our care.

2023/2024 training offer will be published shortly

Our aim is to enable each child in care the chance to flourish in adulthood. The support that each young person receives to make that happen is vital. We support care leavers as they transition into post 16 education, employment, and training.

For more information go to Jobs, careers and training for young people.

In September 2021, the Virtual School’s role was extended to include strategic responsibility for promoting the educational outcomes of the cohort of children that have been assessed as needing or previously needing a social worker (CWSW).

This includes any children aged 0– 18 who are, or have been, supported by a Child In Need plan (CIN) or Child Protection plan (CP) for safeguarding and/or welfare reasons within the past 6 years. 

Promoting the education of children with a social worker – Virtual School Head role extension (Updated June 2022)

Meet the CWSW core team  

The multi-agency team is made up from a range of professionals committed to working in collaboration to improve outcomes for NELC children with a social worker.

For information or guidance please contact Michelle McMahon or Melanie Graves in the first instance. 

  • Michelle McMahon – Strategic lead [email protected]
  • Dr Louise Jarvis – Senior Educational Psychologist
  • Linda Manley – Informatics Analyst 
  • Vicky Carmichael – Education Welfare Officer
  • Necia Fraser – Early Help Co-Ordinator 
  • Sarah Blanchard – Head of Service, Court and Child Protection
  • Abigail Stevens – Assistant  Educational Psychologist [email protected]

Why is the Virtual School taking on this role?

Virtual Schools are already successfully raising aspirations and promoting the educational achievement of looked-after children and the cohort of previously looked-after children. 

Unlike looked-after children, or previously looked-after children, the cohort of children with a social worker who are subject to CiN plans or CP plans have not had the benefit of a strategic leader that is able to champion their educational needs and help them make educational progress.

The Virtual School is experienced in helping education settings and local authorities work together and can offer advice and support to teachers and social workers, with the aim of narrowing the attainment gap.

Why is this action needed?

The Government’s Children in Need review (June 2019) evidenced that Children with a Social Worker:

  • do significantly worse than others at all stage of their education and poor outcomes persist even after social work involvement ends. 
  • are 3 times more likely to be persistently absent.
  • are 2-4 times more likely to be permanently excluded.
  • are 10 times more likely to attend alternative provision settings.
  • many CWSW go on to become Looked After.
  • have experienced as more significant detrimental influence on their learning than all children due to the pandemic and related restrictions.

What will we do?

Rather than working directly with children, the Virtual School is committed to assisting our professional partners who best know the young people and their families. 

This can be achieved through the 3 critical activity streams:

Enhancing partnerships between education and social care, to work together in a child focused manner, to establish shared priorities and with high aspirations to drive change.

Identifying the needs of the cohort and addressing barriers to poor educational outcomes to ensure pupils make educational progress.

Offering advice and support to key professionals such as Social Workers, Designated Safeguarding Leads, Designated Teachers, and school leaders to help children make progress, including through increasing their confidence in using evidence-based interventions.

We will:

  • Encourage settings and agencies to adopt a Relational Approach in both universal practice and in focussed interventions for those in need of more intensive support.  This necessitates a firm belief in the power of relationships; acknowledging that all behaviour is a form of communication and use of emotion coaching methods.
  • Bring greater awareness to the disadvantage that CWSW can experience due to the impact of adverse experiences such as domestic violence, neglect and substance misuse.
  • Promote engagement in education and help to narrow the attainment gap using a strengths-based model.
  • Work closely with the Director of Children’s Services to understand the needs of children with a social worker within NELC and consider how best to improve their educational outcomes, attendance, and mental health and wellbeing.
  • Make use of peer support to share learning and develop good practice.

How will we do it? 


We are in the process of developing a series of workshops, practise sharing events and networking opportunities for NELC partners.

For upcoming events go to the Virtual School Training tab.

Please complete our sign up form for notifications of future events.


A growing collection of materials that we have found useful:

PASS – Pupil Attitude to Self and School

PASS – GL Assessment

Psychometric Assessments to identify underlying causes for barriers to learning:

“It is a great way of very quickly collecting the perspectives of children and teenagers.  Including from those who are not always able to talk about their feelings or their own views” Dr Louise Jarvis – Senior Educational Psychologist

The ATTEND framework

Brighton & Hove Inclusion Support Service (BHISS) (

Attendance framework analysis and intervention:

“The ATTEND Framework was developed within Brighton & Hove City Council as an early intervention programme for school-aged pupils between 5 and 16 years when attendance drops below 90%. It aims to identify all of the contributing factors when attendance is low.”

We believe early intervention is key to the successful implementation of our offer. Our approach is rooted in research such as that published by The Education Endownment Foundation (EEF)

Related content

Children’s social care strategies and policies

Types of foster care

Report a concern about a child

Corporate parenting

Local Offer for care leavers

Contact details

Children’s Services Department, Civic Offices, Knoll Street, Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire, DN35 8LN

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 01472 313131