Greenwich Council

Agenda item.

Royal Borough of Greenwich Virtual School - Head Teacher's Annual Report 2015-2016

The Panel is asked to note the Royal Borough of Greenwich Virtual School – Head Teacher’s Annual Report which covers the period 1 April 2015 to 31 March 2016.

Minutes:

The Annual report was presented by the Head Teacher of the Royal Borough of Greenwich Virtual School who explained that the key to improving outcomes was to be an aspirational Corporate Parent, aiming to improve stability for children and ensuring that education is given a high priority. The Ofsted Single Framework Inspection in May 2016 recognised the excellent work of the Virtual School stating that the School’s work was beginning to make a ‘substantial difference to outcomes’. 

 

The new Greenwich Virtual School structure with a new post of 16+ Officer had seen an improvement in the Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEET) figures, and in children going on to University, but staff were stretched to capacity. The Head Teacher recommended that a further two 16+ Officers be appointed.

 

The Panel asked what the Team’s capacity was; the response was that each Officer was responsible for between 1-150 children and it was key to prioritise the level of help each child required.

 

The Head Teacher explained that educational outcomes were good and progress in all year groups was increasing and was above National levels for Looked After Children. It was noted that there was a significant impact on progress the longer a child remained in care, this demonstrated that children’s progress was being tracked well. It was predicted that outcomes for the next year would also be above the National level. Social Workers were also seeing education as an important part of placement planning and were liaising with the Virtual School at an early stage.

 

She further said that attendance levels amongst Looked After Children had risen for the 6th consecutive year. Primary attendance was 97% and secondary 92%. Absence was below the National average. A child’s attendance was checked on a daily basis and every two weeks team meetings were held to discuss children of concern regarding attendance and on actions needed to support them.

 

The Panel queried how many Looked After Children were at school outside of the Borough and how was their attendance and afternoon sessions monitored. The Head Teacher replied that approximately 55% (274/479) were out of Borough and that both morning and afternoon attendance were monitored, and although this was a challenge it was being met.

 

The Head Teacher updated that exclusions had reduced and were only being used as a last resort and the number of days fixed term exclusion had halved in the last three years. The Borough had not had a permanent exclusion in the last seven years.

 

The Head Teacher said that Personal Education Plans (PEP) had been given a good Ofsted rating. Pupil Premium was well managed which had led to improvement in PEP quality which resulted in better outcomes and the right support being identified. Schools did not receive Pupil Premium unless the Virtual PEP had been returned. The Personal Education Allowance was used to focus on personal activities such as horse-riding, sports, and trips.

 

The Panel queried the use of the new Pupil Premium policy which was a premium for disadvantaged Looked After Children allocated to schools by the Virtual School. The Head Teacher answered that the premium was only given to schools that provided the interventions necessary, such as one to one tuition, and if they had not put them in place after discussion then the money was withheld and the interventions were provided centrally.

 

The Head Teacher went on to say that interventions continued to be well targeted. One to one tuition was successful and the Homework Club based at the Nightingale Place Youth Club was well attended. The Homework Club also gave children access to music tuition and a sound recording studio, cultural trips and revision courses.

 

The Panel asked what the Beanstalk reading programme was, which was an area for improvement as schools needed to be encouraged to use the pupil premium for it. The Head Teacher explained that it is a volunteer reading scheme.

 

The Head Teacher explained the three key areas for development in 2016/17 which were; improvements in attainment and progress particularly maths; curriculum and interventions and leadership.

 

The Panel asked regarding children who moved in and out of care (subject to Special Guardianship Orders) how continuity of service was provided to them. The Head Teacher responded that these children were kept on record for six months, so that their case history was available if needed.

 

The Panel also asked if there were any problems related to Schools Admissions, where a child is moved in to or out of borough. The Head Teacher replied that they tried to maintain the same place of education if possible. She also said that out of Borough school placement could be challenging, but it was the Virtual School’s job to address this via the Schools Admissions Code.

 

The Panel thanked the Head Teacher and expressed their gratitude to her and her team.

 

Resolved:

 

That the annual report 2015-2016 on the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s Virtual School be noted.

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