As part of an initiative to raise the attainment of children in care, the government has introduced Virtual School Heads (VSH), appointed by local authorities to act as a champion for these children and monitor their progression. Calderdale Council has 259 children in care attending 96 different schools. Its VSH, Sue Steven, knows that having accurate data to hand is key to improving the life chances of every child.
Sue wanted to free up as much time as possible for staff to spend supporting looked after children in schools and chose Capita One’s Virtual Schools Service package. The first of its kind, the software enables the authority to see an overview of its virtual school students alongside a regular cohort, week by week, through every stage of their education.
Sue and her team have found that being able to see a snapshot of a child’s progress from when they first entered formal education has been invaluable. “The new software is enabling us to make more informed decisions on what support vulnerable young people might need. Without the burden of having to manually chase attendance data, staff are able to support the practitioners out in the field. We are currently saving a day a week on chasing data and expect this to improve further.”
Calderdale boasts significantly lower than national average absence figures for children in care and Sue believes Capita One’s Virtual Schools Service package has an important role to play in this.
“The software acts as an early warning system so that the authority can intervene to nip attendance concerns in the bud before they become more serious.
Calderdale’s Virtual School was recently rated more favourably by Ofsted. This was a direct result of the insight gained from the data being gathered in One and the effectiveness of the interventions implemented to raise educational outcomes for those in care.