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Cheshire East Virtual School
Cared for Children (sometimes called Looked after Children) are the children that are subject to Care Orders and those who are voluntarily accommodated who live with foster carers, in residential homes or remain with their family. In these cases the Local Authority acts as their corporate parent, responsible for their care and support. The Virtual School takes the lead in ensuring that all of our Cared for Pupils have the best educational opportunities possible and that there is consistency of approach across the Cheshire East borough.
What the Virtual School does
As the outcomes for Cared for Children, both locally and nationally, are far worse than those of their peers (e.g. 17% gain good passes in maths and English compared to 64% of all pupils), there is a real need for clear lines of accountability and someone to champion these vulnerable pupils and their needs. The Virtual School enables the monitoring and overview of all of our Cared for Children and their progress. It also enables us to support and challenge schools and other agencies in their work with these children and young people.
‘Corporate parenting’ emphasises the collective responsibility of Local Authorities to achieve good parenting for children and young people in their care. In broad terms, a corporate parent should do at least what a good parent would do. Once a Local Authority has taken the profound and difficult decision to remove a child, short-term or long-term, from his or her family, it is the duty of the whole Local Authority to ‘safeguard and promote his welfare’ (1989 Children Act). The ‘whole authority’ includes the education department as well as social services, and school also have a key role to play. The responsibility of the corporate parent continues at least until the age of 21 and up to the age of 24 if the young person is still being supported in higher education or training.
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