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Virtual schools help raise the profile of educational attainment for children in care

Ofsted report explores measure to reduce the gap in educational achievement of children in care and their peers

The gap between the educational achievement of children in care and their peers continues to widen, according to an Ofsted report. The impact of virtual schools on the educational progress of looked after children explores the impact virtual schools have on tackling the educational progress of these children.

Virtual schools are established by many local authorities and work with looked after children across their catchment as if they were in one school, liaising with the schools they attend, tracking the progress they make and supporting them to achieve as well as possible.

The Ofsted report explores the impact of virtual schools in nine local authorities, examining cases and looking at the effectiveness of education support for children in care.

In the local authorities visited, virtual schools have raised the profile of educational attainment for children in care, promoted much better communication between professionals, increased the involvement of carers in children's education, and helped to improve attendance and reduce exclusions.

However, there was little evidence that they were yet able to reduce the attainment gap between looked after children and their peers. Progress between Key Stages 3 and 4 was generally slower than during earlier key stages, and improving the percentage of those attaining five or more good GCSE passes, including English and maths, remained a challenge for most authorities.

Budget constraints have also led to a significant reduction in the capacity of virtual schools in some local authorities. Although most of the local authorities were able to protect existing resources, nearly all expressed concerns about the future.

You can read the Ofsted report here.