COVID-19 (coronavirus)

The Virtual School team are working remotely and cannot be reached by phone. Please contact us by email at virtualschool@sheffield.gov.uk and your enquiry will be forwarded to the relevant member of the team.

We coordinate educational services for children in our care from 2 to 18 years old.

What the school is responsible for

We work in partnership with a child or young person’s school (or the education establishment at which they are registered) and social worker to ensure they are supported to fulfil their potential at all stages of their education. We want to give them the best opportunity to be successful in their adult lives.

While children in care attend different schools (and education establishments) across the city and in other local authorities, the Virtual School monitors their attendance, attainment and achievement. We make sure that their educational success is a top priority in their care planning. Ensuring effective and well planned transitions between the phases of early years, statutory schooling and post 16 is a key role for us.

How Personal Education Plans and Grants work

Children in care are set a termly Personal Education Plan (PEP) that provides a record of attainment, progress and their educational needs. Each child in care receives an additional Pupil Premium Plus Grant, administered by the head of the Virtual School, to support the targets or outcomes set out in their PEPs.

The PEP identifies how additional funding from the Pupil Premium Grant will be spent to support positive outcomes for children in care and remove any barriers to their learning.

The Pupil Premium policy outlines how the grant is distributed to schools. Schools can apply for additional pupil premium funding in addition to the fixed amount they receive each term per child placed with them.

If you are a Designated Teacher and would like to apply for additional pupil premium, please contact the Virtual School.

New PEP process

The Virtual School introduced a new PEP process in September 2019 and information has been sent out to all schools. The new process will:

  • ensure that there is a termly PEP which is signed off at the end of each term
  • ensure that delegated staff (either Social Worker or Designated Teacher) are accountable for specific areas of the PEP (this will minimise questions around ‘who completes what’)
  • ensure that the Virtual School can quality assure PEPs at the end of each school term, offering the opportunity to give support or guidance in terms of quality improvement

If you are a Designated Teacher or a Social Worker and require a copy of the new process notes you should contact us.

Post 16 support

The Virtual School continues to offer support and monitor progression within education, employment and training to young people who have left Year 11 and are aged 16 and 17. We do this by working with colleagues from social care and providers who deliver the education and training to our young people. The PEP remains a legal process until 18 years of age, though we remain available throughout Year 13.

Through the PEP process we promote discussion and actions focused on better outcomes in welfare, engagement, attainment, SEND support and progression within the setting. For those young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) we work to secure targeted support from a named worker appropriate to the young person’s needs.

You can find out for more in the Post 16 Virtual School offer document or contact us for support or any questions about Post 16 options.

Support available for Designated Teachers, Foster Carers and Social Workers

What help you can expect from the Virtual School:

  • telephone support from 9am to 5pm during school time
  • responses to email enquiries within 24 hours (on weekdays)
  • a named advocate for each child in care  
  • access to regular training
  • a website providing access to resources and support 
  • language support for foreign language students (EAL – English as an Additional Language)

If you’re concerned about a child in care's progress at school, or the amount of support they are receiving, please get in touch.

Training with the Virtual School

We offer training to support Designated Teachers, Social Workers, Foster Carers, Residential Home staff, Independent Reviewing Officers and School Governors around their role with the Virtual School and to support education.

We have a range of available sessions including:

  • The Role of the Designated Teacher
  • The Role of the Foster Carer in Education
  • The Role of the Residential Home in Education

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, our training sessions and network meetings are held via Conference Call.

For further information and available dates, please read our training brochure. Contact us to book a place as spaces are limited. Alternatively, please get in touch with us if you require any bespoke training to support whole school events or staff meetings, group sessions for staff in your residential home, or attendance during your social worker or IRO team meetings.

E-Learning (AC Education)

AC Education create engaging, interactive online courses for educators. With over 12 years' experience providing training to education and children's social care, AC Education brings this knowledge and understanding to help teachers support vulnerable and traumatised children. 

Our Designated Teachers are able to access an initial e-learning module around the Role of the Designated Teacher. If you are new to the role, you will be enrolled to this module by the Virtual School. 

Other modules are available for Designated Teachers which may support your role or help to support your Sheffield Children Looked After. Please get in touch with us for further details.

Attend training sessions or volunteer with the Virtual School

Get in touch on 0114 2037790 or email virtualschool@sheffield.gov.uk if you would like to book onto our training, find out more about the personal education plan or services we can provide.

Our email is for general enquiries. Please do not send any case sensitive information.

Alongside our professional staff, the Virtual School is also supported by volunteers. If you’re interested in volunteering with the School, you can read more on our volunteering page.

Children from other authorities

The Virtual School isn’t legally responsible for other local authority children in care placed in Sheffield. We are committed, however, to supporting professionals from other local authorities who are experiencing issues with any of their children who are placed in Sheffield.