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Education for children in our care

Logo for Gateshead Virtual School

Gateshead Virtual School 

Gateshead Virtual School (GVS), is responsible for promoting the educational achievement of looked after children, wherever they live or are educated.  Education is central to all decision making regarding the welfare of our looked after children and will feature in all care planning together with our social care colleagues.  Social workers, VSH, IROs, school admission officers, and the Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) team will work together to ensure that, except in an emergency, appropriate education provision for a child is arranged at the same time as a care placement.

GVS is also responsible for promoting the educational achievement of those children previously looked after and providing information and advice to parents and educators.

Our services also extend to Gateshead children who are looked after but residing out of borough.

Gateshead Virtual School will:

  • maintain an up-to-date roll of its looked-after children who are in school or college settings, and gather information about their education placement, attendance and educational progress
  • identify a key Virtual School caseworker for each school, a single point of contact
  • ensure sufficient information about a child's mental health, SEN or disability is available to their education setting so that appropriate support can be provided
  • inform head teachers and designated teachers in schools if they have a child on roll who is looked after by the VSH's local authority
  • ensure social workers, designated teachers and schools, carers and IROs understand their role and responsibilities in initiating, developing, reviewing, and updating the child's PEP and how they help meet the needs identified in that PEP
  • ensure up-to-date, effective and high-quality, quality assured PEPs that focus on educational outcomes, and that all looked-after children, wherever they are placed, have a termly PEP
  • avoid drift or delay in providing suitable educational provision, including special educational provision, and unplanned termination of educational arrangements through proactive, multi-agency co-operation. Where this requires negotiation with other authorities this should be completed in a timely manner and with the best interest of the child as paramount
  • ensure the educational achievement of children looked after by the authority is seen as a priority by everyone who has responsibilities for promoting their welfare; and
  • report regularly on the attainment, progress, school attendance and suspensions and the prevention of permanent exclusions of looked-after children through the Virtual School Governing Board and the authority's corporate parenting structures
  • provide a range of training opportunities to Designated Teachers (DTs), Designated safeguarding Leads, Social Workers, Team Managers, IROS and foster carers
  • provide additional challenge and support to schools for children in our care with complex needs eg encouraging the use of the SEND Thresholds for example Social, Emotional and Mental Health and the SEN Assessment procedures
  • provide guidance to schools on the use of Pupil Premium Plus and allocate the allocated funds of £1800 on an annual basis
  • promote positive and successful transitions across all phases including into further and higher educational provision

Extension to duties

Gateshead Virtual School is also responsible for promoting the educational achievement of those children previously looked after by providing information and advice to parents, educators, and other partners. This includes children who are adopted or are subject to special guardianship or a child arrangement order.

Additional responsibilities for VSHs were introduced in September 2021 - this is a strategic leadership role designed to champion the educational attendance, attainment, and progress of children with a social worker.

The focus of this work will include:

  • making visible the disadvantages that children with a social worker can experience, enhancing partnerships between education settings and local authorities, including with children's social care, to help all agencies hold high aspirations for these children
  • promoting practice that supports children's engagement in education, recognising that attending an education setting can be an important factor in helping to keep children safe from harm
  • levelling up children's outcomes and narrow the attainment gap so every child has the opportunity to reach their potential

The VSH role for children with a social worker is a strategic leadership responsibility.

VSHs are not expected to:

  • work directly with individual children and their families - including tracking and monitoring of individual educational progress, providing academic or other interventions
  • respond to requests from parents or carers to offer advice, intervention, and support in relation to individual children with a social worker

Personal Education Plans

A Personal Education Plan (PEP) is a statutory document that all looked after children from the ages of 3 to 18 must have in place regardless of the type of educational provision (school, apprenticeship, FE, alternative provision, not in school).

The PEP is designed to support the young person throughout their education, ensuring the appropriate level of support is in place to secure the best possible educational outcomes.

The PEP is now provided via Welfare Call and will be completed on a termly basis. The Voice of the Child and the Voice of the Care giver is central to the PEP. The PEP should contain SMART targets and be linked to key support and Interventions to ensure progress can be measured term on term.

There is an Early Years PEP, a school age PEP and a Post 16 PEP.

Supporting information and downloadable documents

Applying the 4Rs of Trauma Informed approaches in the return to school (PDF) [305KB]
Developmental Trauma Resource Pack (PDF) [7MB]
Care Communicate Connect and Collaborate (PDF) [442KB]
Gateshead Pupil Premium 2023 (PDF) [189KB]
Gateshead PEP Completion Guidance Sept 2023 (PDF) [688KB]
Gateshead Quality Assurance Frameworks for ePEPs Sept 2023 (PDF) [747KB]
Promoting the education of children with a social worker (PDF) [301KB] (opens new window)
Promoting the education of looked after children and previously looked after children (statutory guidance for local authorities) (PDF) [371KB]

The Virtual School Team


Areas of responsibiility

Contact details
Linda Mason, head teacherStrategic
07525 387 750
Rachel Allan, deputy head teacher

Previously Looked After Children, Children with a Social Worker. Kinship Care
07729 103 285
David Humble, casework leadSEND, Out of Borough, Alternative Provision
07860 757 377

Sophia Kikuchi, caseworkerSEND, Out of Borough, Alternative
07718 269 432
Judith Sewell, casework leadPost 16 (Year 12 and 13)
07500 606 998

Errin Bolam, caseworkerPost 16 (Transition from Year 11)
07590 268 714
Alex Spiller, casework
07919 573 967
Marianna Viglianisi,
Jade Taplin, casework leadEYFS/
07740 516 275
Chelsea Walker, caseworkerEYFS/
07714 957 913
Claire Price, business support manager
0191 433 8641
Ryan Mason-Carr, administrative support
0191 433 8733
Ian Hall, data and administration coordinator
07756 500 336


Contact Us

Please contact your Virtual School Caseworker directly on the mobile number or email listed. 

For more general enquiries please email or call 0191 433 8732.

For EPEP queries email: