Virtual School Team
They work closely with other professionals, together with parents and carers, to ensure that children receive the best education possible and get the support they need.
The Virtual School Headteacher
The Headteacher’s role is to lead and manage the work of the Virtual School across Devon, to monitor the achievements of all children in care in Devon, support pupils, schools and staff as appropriate and challenge where necessary.
If you need this structure chart in an alternative format please contact Kate Clarke.
Contact the team
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Virtual School Administrator, Kate Clarke on 01392 384786
- Area learning advocatesWelfare and inclusion
There are four area learning advocates (ALAs) working across Devon. They will speak on your behalf because they get to know you really well. Each one is responsible for children in care in schools in a particular area of Devon and they will get to know them, how they are getting on, what they do really well and about their needs. The ALAs will work with the school, parent or carer and, together with other professionals, will ensure that children in care are well supported and that their voice is heard. They can help identify additional support and will keep the Virtual School Headteacher informed of your educational progress and any issues.
East Devon (pink): Wendy Ohlson
Mid Devon (yellow): Danny Mead
South and West Devon (blue): Andrew Squire
(also first point of contact for Adopted Children and those under Special Guardianship Orders)
North Devon (green): Kim PiperData, admin and QA
Education Wellbeing Officer
The Education Wellbeing Officer works with a wide range of colleagues, and parents/carers to prevent and reduce the number of children who are missing education due to psychological medical absence eg. anxiety disorders or other mental health issues.
When a child is experiencing difficulties and there is a need for a change of school, an Inclusion Officer would become involved. Inclusion Officers would involve learning advocates in working with schools to look at the provision and any additional resources which would help the child/young person to re-engage with their learning. Should the need for a change of school be needed the Inclusion Officer will organise a protocol meeting, following Devon’s agreed protocol for eliminating exclusion and assist in identifying the new school for the young person to transfer.
Area Learning Advocates may involve Inclusion Officers when a child is experiencing difficulties.
For more information see Education Inclusion Service.Other professionals
Quality assurance officers
Their role is to ensure Personal Education Plans for CiC are of a sufficient standard and will assess their capacity to raise achievement and impact on individual learning outcomes, working with schools to ensure those PEPs not meeting expectations are improved and resubmitted. Once a PEP has passed the QA process Pupil Premium funding can be released to schools.
Administration and data support
The staff in this team act as a central contact point for any queries from schools and other professionals regarding the education of our children in care, they monitor the team mailbox and send out relevant information, requests and guidance to our designated teachers. The data staff ensure our records are kept up to date via the EMS One system and produce our weekly Virtual School Roll.
VS Administrator (Kate Clarke)
Admin for VS Headteacher, area learning advocates and VS team, info/training for designated teachers, organisation of CiC celebration event, DT conference, education panels, admin for VS governing body and care leavers in education, employment and training meetings and any general enquiries.
VS Data Coordinator (Sarah Short)
Producing the virtual school roll each week and keeping EMS ONE system up to date with information on our children in care.
Educational Support Assistant (Aga Spier)
ePEP admin, POPPs, out of county PEPs, SDQs, virtual college/post-16 data tracking and organising one-to-one tutoring where necessary.
01392 383000Governing body
Personal education plan (PEP) coordinators
The PEP coordinators work with children, foster carers, parents, school staff, social workers and other agencies to plan, coordinate and arrange personal education plan meetings and to ensure the voice of the child is at the heart of the process. Our PEP Coordinators are:
(South Devon) and Post-16 Rob Martin
(North Devon and Post-16) Jacqueline Cooper
(Mid and East Devon) Bethan Roberts
(East Devon) Kate Stanley
Every school and setting has by law to appoint a senior member of staff to champion the needs of children in care who are in their school. This person will be present at most meetings and will lead ensuring the personal education plan meets the educational needs of each child. They also have to provide an annual report to the School’s Governing body/board of Directors.
In school mentor
This may be a teacher or a member of support staff who has been specially trained to support children in care and will work with them on a one-to-one basis. They will work with the designated teacher.
Advocate for Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC)
The governing body of the Virtual School fulfils three core functions:
- To ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction.
- To hold the ‘virtual’ headteacher to account for the educational performance of the pupils on roll.
- To ensure resources are utilised to best effect and have maximum impact on outcomes for pupils.
It is the function of the virtual governing body to develop a deep understanding of the issues surrounding the virtual school and to be able to ask well-informed questions to ensure all of the pupils on roll at the virtual school are able to make the best progress and have their needs met. The governing body will champion the needs of the pupils and utilise its combined expertise and experience to ensure resources are made available and outcomes improve.
The Virtual School staff will also work closely with your school, together with other professionals such as school advisors, school improvement officers, social workers, independent review officers and staff in schools. The Virtual School will promote and champion the specific needs of children in care and work to ensure any professional support is linked and effective.
Educational psychologists work in every school/educational establishment in Devon and prioritise support for children in care. This will include practical advice and training for the Designated Teacher and In-School Mentor. In addition, educational psychologists provide education support for fostering panels and the Service Around the Child Team.
Governor personal statements
Head of Education and Learning, statement available at devon.gov.uk/head-education-learning
Virtual School Headteacher: I qualified as a teacher at Warwick University. Teaching first in Devon before teaching in Zambia for two years, followed by over 20 years with service schools in Gibraltar, Germany, Holland, and Italy. I have been a Headteacher of three primary schools, the last being Manor Primary School in Ivybridge. In 2013 I joined Devon County Council, initially as an inclusion officer then an area learning advocate. I have been the Virtual School Headteacher since 2017.
As chair of the Virtual School it is my duty to work with the Virtual School Headteacher and fellow governors, to make sure our children in care receive the best education. The close working relationship between Education and Children’s Social Care is essential to meet the many challenges these young people have.
I’m Sarah – a mother, foster carer, school governor and ex-teacher. I grew up in Bristol and went to Warwick University where I qualified as a teacher in maths and PE. I taught at a middle school before I had my family of 4 children who all learn in different ways. One of my children is dyslexic and another has Aspergers Syndrome so I understand helping children with special educational needs. I was a governor in my local primary school for 8 years chairing the Curriculum Committee; I enjoyed being involved in planning the future of the school. I went into school frequently, volunteering to hear the children read and helping with other activities. For the last 5 years I have been a foster carer looking after many children, all with their own needs and abilities. Where possible I have enjoyed interacting with their families and helping them understand the needs of their children.
Debbie is the team leader of the Governance Consultancy Team within Babcock LDP and has more than 20 years experience of school governance. The team provides information, advice, training and support to school governors in a varied range of school settings across Devon and the wider south west. Prior to joining the Governor Team Debbie worked in the voluntary sector in Exeter and is committed to ensuring that all volunteers have the training and support they need to fulfil their role. Debbie’s role on the Board is to represent Babcock LDP School Effectiveness Team and to ensure that the Board probes and asks challenging questions of the Virtual School Headteacher when it comes to the educational outcomes of the children and young people on roll.
Babcock Learning & Development Partnership (LDP) is partnered with Devon County Council in a joint venture arrangement to deliver school improvement services to schools and settings in Devon.
I am employed by Devon County Council as a social worker in the Fostering Team and have been in my current post for approximately 8 years. Prior to this I worked in the Child Care Assessment Team in Tiverton. I have been a qualified social worker since 1989 and have worked in childcare since then in various settings. I am a parent of 3 children, their experience at school and the time my husband has been a governor, has sparked my interest in becoming one. I am well aware that the children who are accommodated have potentially more hurdles to overcome than some other young people and it is crucial that we have a system which supports and promotes their education. The school my children attend is particularly proactive in supporting the young people they have who are in care and any dealings with them have been very positive. I also link in often with my foster carers as they support the young people in placements and are good advocates for them in various forums.
I have worked in schools in Plymouth and Devon since 2001 in a wide range of educational settings, including secondary schools and for Plymouth LA. I have also worked with a number of higher education establishments, the most recent being the University of Cambridge to train teachers in Kazakhstan. I have been Headteacher of West Exe School, Exeter, since September 2017 having previously been Headteacher of St James School, Exeter for over two years. I am determined to ensure all students thrive in education and gain experiences and skills which enable them to lead happy and successful lives.
Cllr Emma Brennan
I have been a Labour councillor since 2017, representing Heavitree and Whipton Barton in Exeter. I was formerly a primary school teacher and also have experience of working in safeguarding, Children in Care and SEND in previous roles. As well as being on the Virtual School Governing Body, I am a governor at my children’s school and sit on Devon County Council’s Children’s Scrutiny Committee. I live in Exeter and am a mum of two young children.
Councillor Su Aves
I have been a Devon County Councillor in Exeter since May 2017 and with this position comes the role of being a corporate parent for children and young people in care. I consider this a privilege. I am a mother, an enabler for a child with cerebral palsy, a community volunteer and a governor for the Learn to Live Federation (of two Special Schools). I was a science teacher in state comprehensive secondary schools (11-18) for 13 years in Devon and Hertfordshire. I first became a governor at my daughters’ primary school in Exeter. My first role was to liaise with staff with responsibility for SEN. During the seven years (2006-13) that I was a governor there I chaired the finance committee and became chair of governors. This, plus my teaching, gives me experience that I can bring to the Virtual School Governing Body. I believe that each child or young person should be at the very centre of their education to enable them to have the skills for a happy life. Also very important is the right support for all those involved: students, staff, foster carers and families.
Employment and Skills Strategy Manager (Education), post-16 participation.
I have worked for Devon County Council since 2013 and prior to that Plymouth City Council from 1993. I am one of four Locality Director’s in Children’s Social Care. I hold the responsibility for social work and DCC early help in mid/east Devon. In addition, I hold the strategic lead for children in care and care leavers hence sitting as a member of the virtual school governing body.
My past experience has involved holding responsibility for child protection social work teams, children in care teams, adoption and fostering services, MASH and an Independent Reviewing Unit. This gives me a strong belief that we all need to work across systems to ensure that children receive what they need to succeed and education is an important part of that. I have personally been a school governor for a primary school, both as a parent governor and then as independent, where my knowledge of safeguarding was utilised.