This report is in response to the panel’s request for an overview of the work of the Virtual school in relation to educational outcomes for children and young people in the care of Croydon.
At 6:06pm Co-Optee Members EMPIRE left the meeting.
Officers spoke to the report which provided qualitative data. The report highlighted the work of Virtual School and the change in work within the last nine months.
Officers shared that the numbers of young people on the role of the Virtual School fluctuated weekly, numbers were static by the end of the year. Statistics also showed that more of Croydon’s looked after children were attending schools within the borough.
Officers further shared that unaccompanied asylum seeking children represented twenty-five different nationalities and there were 350 unaccompanied minors residing in Croydon.
With more children aged fifteen to sixteen going into care, officers talked about funding and how the Virtual School was funding a looked after child until they reached sixteen years old. This highlighted challenges around looked after children aged seventeen years plus who would not receive funding for support.
The report also mentioned that school ratings were tracked by officers from information provided by parents and the schools themselves.
Officers noted that staffing within the service had seen little change as caseloads continued to increase. With a ratio of twenty-two staff to 950 children, this meant staff would be responsible for approximately sixty to sixty-five young children each. Though each child was not seen regularly, each child would be seen up to three times a year and this had been successful.
Officers informed that the Virtual School had provided training to specialist staff to offer bespoke mentoring services for the young people. Pupil Premium Funding was further discussed amongst the Panel and officers announced that though each looked after child was entitled to £2,300 each, this area was under review as the procedure had been a challenge. Officers noted that they needed to explore long-term the costing the involvement of the Virtual School, and how the young people could access funding to meet their needs.
In response to questions from Members of the Panel relating to the Virtual School’s involvement in supporting children with mental health issues, officers answered that their involvement was on a case-by-case basis. The Virtual School would escalate the process and work with Children’s Services to review spending. Officers noted that there was a mental health pilot taking place, from which 16,000 students and looked after children would benefit as a result of having been involved in training sessions. The new project was exciting as the services work closely with the Health Services. St Mary’s School was the lead school in this pilot. The Virtual School was also employing other professionals to be involved with the training to focus on the quality assurance of the young children’s health and wellbeing, i.e. therapeutic services via Educational Psychology services.
In response to questions raised by Members of the Panel relating to statutory school aged children not in education, officers noted that this data was not mentioned in the report. They noted that there were a number of children who did not have a school place. Further questions arose relating to whether the school aged children were monitored or received intervention, and officers informed the meeting that there were twenty children attending an interim provision, fifteen children were in the process of being put into school and there were others who did not receive tuition.
ACTION: To have further information of statutory school aged children not in education broken down, to review as a safeguarding issue. To be brought to the next meeting.
The Panel heard that the young people had spoken positively of the Virtual School and this was well received.
The Chair commended the work that had been accomplished by the Virtual School particularly around local schools and the work with children. Also for more looked after children attending schools within the borough.
At 6:30pm Councillor Bernadette Khan left the meeting