Virtual schools hit by budget cuts

Written by: HTU | Published:

Virtual schools have a hugely positive impact on the education of children in care, but there is “little evidence" that they are able to reduce the attainment gap, Ofsted has reported.

Virtual schools have a hugely positive impact on the education of children in care, but there is “little evidence" that they are able to reduce the attainment gap, Ofsted has reported.



Inspectors also found that budget cuts have led to a “significant reduction" in the capacity of virtual schools in some areas.



Virtual schools are established by many local authorities and work across all schools to support achievement and track progress of looked-after children.



In a report focusing on the approach, inspectors praised virtual schools for raising the profile of educational attainment for look-after children, promoting better communication between professionals, and increasing the involvement of carers in children's education.



They also reported that virtual schools do help to improve attendance and reduce exclusions.



However, the report found “little evidence that the gap in attainment between looked after children and other children was narrowing".



Inspectors, who visited nine local authorities for the report, also found that financial constraints had resulted in several authorities reducing the number of dedicated posts within their virtual schools.



It found that three of the nine local authorities had reconfigured their virtual school teams as a result of budget constraints, two had reduced the size of the service and were now running small operations with “a much-changed focus".



The report continues: “In the local authorities where virtual school resources had been hardest hit by budget cuts, there was an acknowledged concern by senior managers that the reduced resources represented the greatest threat to educational outcomes."



The Impact of Virtual Schools on the Educational Progress of Looked-After Children can be downloaded from www.ofsted.gov.uk.


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