Continuing funding for Virtual Schools is confirmed at NAVSH Conference

Future funding has been confirmed for virtual schools by Children’s and Families minister Will Quince MP.

Children’s and Families minister Will Quince MP made the announcement at the National Association of Virtual School Heads Conference in Earl’s Court (March 16).

Since September 2021 Virtual School headteachers have had a strategic role to promote the educational achievement of all children with a social worker.

Mr Quince told NAVSH delegates:

“Since being appointed Minister for Children and Families in September I have been trying to get out and about as much as possible, to listen to those of you working on the frontline."

“And the one thing that stands out most to me is the dedication and skill with which you ensure our most vulnerable children and young people get the care and education they need and deserve.

“Since the role of Virtual School Heads was established in 2014, we have seen real positive educational progress for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children.

“I am keen for the excellent work you have started to continue, which is why today I am extremely pleased to be able to announce a further £16.6m of funding for this next financial year.”

Minister Quince praised the fact that NAVSH had identified schools with high exclusion rates and low attendance levels of children in need, enabling them to target support, and trained social workers so they were equipped to champion the educational progress of the children.

He cited as an example the fact that in 2019 the persistent absence rate for looked after children was lower than the rate for all pupils and the permanent exclusion rate was almost the same as for all pupils, and much lower than children in need.

He said:

“This impact, with thanks to your expert leadership, was noted in the Children in Need Review, which recommended extending Virtual School Head duties to children with a social worker.”

Minister Quince also talked about the positive impact of a pilot study being conducted in post-16 education where vulnerable students had benefitted from education plans. “We are fully committed to the Pupil Premium Plus pilot, are evaluating it and will be making an announcement in due course,” he told delegates via a video link.

The funding will continue to be paid to local authorities via Section 31 grant and announcement will shortly be made by DFE. NAVSH anticipates that the duties will continue to be funded in this way in the future.

NAVSH continues to support members with the implementation of the new duties, the theme of this year’s conference “Virtual Schools: Bigger and Better” will be seen throughout the coming year as NAVSH works with key partners to support the implementation and evaluation of the new duties

Patrick Ward said

“ This announcement is an opportunity for local authorities to undertake long term planning in the interests of the young people covered by the new duties. DFE have invested substantially in the Virtual School model, this is not going away. The settlement this year is the same as last and allows continuity for local authorities."