Frequently asked questions

What is the Virtual School?

The virtual school is not a physical building/ school where young people attend. Instead, it is a ‘virtual’ school in the local authority that has an oversight of LAC students and their progress. The pupils are real and attend many different schools.

Do schools receive funding for looked after children?

Schools receive funding through pupil premium plus for looked after children and previously looked after children. Schools receive this money annually and it is allocated within the young persons personal education plan to ensure money is being spent appropriately to maximise outcomes. Pupil premium plus totals £2300 and schools with children who are LAC by Darlington local authority will receive up to £1900 per child to support PEP targets.

Who are designated teachers?

The designated teacher is a member of staff within a school or educational setting who is responsible for promoting the educational achievement of looked-after and previously looked-after children in their school or setting. Each school or educational setting should have a designated teacher. The Virtual School has up to date information of designated teachers within Darlington. Please contact us if you have any queries.

What makes a ‘good’ PEP?

A good quality PEP can be achieved by following these simple steps:

  • the PEP should evolve over time and demonstrate ongoing reflection of progress and targets. PEP meetings should take place termly and the PEP should be updated within this meeting
  • targets, outcomes and interventions should be SMART. For additional tips on writing SMART targets please follow see this page on the professional academy website[external link]
  • the young persons voice should be evident within the PEP. If appropriate, the young person may choose to attend the PEP meeting. If this is not appropriate due to age or circumstances, the young person should have the opportunity to share their views with a social worker and/or designated teacher. The young person should be informed of key information within their PEP.