What is the Surrey Virtual School?

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About the Surrey Virtual School

The Surrey Virtual School (SVS) leads the work to improve educational outcomes of three main groups of children – children looked after, previously looked after and those with a social worker. We are not a teaching institution but a way of bringing together the information about children and young people who are cared for by Surrey local authority as if they were in a single school. That way, their progress can be closely tracked and supported, and interventions can be targeted in a more strategic way.

We proactively work with partners and stakeholders to create a culture of high expectations and aspiration around the groups of young people we with, addressing barriers to educational progress and achievement.

The work of SVS and other Virtual Schools across the country is underpinned by Department of Education (DfE) statutory guidance around promoting the education of looked-after and previously looked-after children (GOV.UK) which sets out the duties and responsibilities towards each group of children.

Children placed in Surrey schools by other local authorities remain the responsibility of the placing authority's Virtual School headteacher - although the SVS will support colleagues with local information and signposting.

What we do

  • Champion the educational needs of children and young people who are looked after by Surrey
  • Promote aspiration for educational achievement by demanding it is a priority within the lives of looked after children to improve outcomes and life chances.
  • Ensure our children and young people have access to the best possible education and every chance to progress and realise their individual potential.
  • Assess and review personalised support plans to raise attainment for those in care to Surrey - providing advice, guidance and support for intervention where this is needed.

We can offer

  • Training for designated teachers in schools, school governors, social workers, foster carers and a range of partner agencies.
  • Advice, information and guidance on all aspects of education for looked after children and young people
  • Support with studies, future pathways and work experience opportunities.

Extended duties: children with a social worker

From September 2021, Virtual School headteachers were made the strategic leaders who promote the educational outcomes of children with a social worker. Using their expertise and knowledge from working with looked-after and previously looked-after children, Virtual Schools nationwide have made excellent progress in understanding and addressing the disadvantages and barriers that these children experience.

The guidance on promoting the education of children with a social worker (GOV.UK):

  • defines the cohort of children in scope
  • explains what the extended role involves
  • provides direction on how to partner with education settings to improve children's outcomes

This extended role does not require Virtual Schools to provide direct intervention, help or support for individual children with a social worker or their families. This guidance does not change existing duties for looked-after and previously looked-after children, and should be read in conjunction with statutory guidance (GOV.UK).

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