Peer Review Programme

Following the recent NAVSH Peer Review commissioned by Sefton Virtual School, Mary Palin the VSH commented –

"If you are considering a NAVSH peer review, do it!

The Virtual School community is the most supportive, knowledgeable and child centred network I have ever worked in. Although it is daunting to invite your peers in, some or all of whom you will not have met, you will be in good hands. The feedback is incisive, professional and detailed: it is focused on strengths and areas for development, delivered by colleagues who have current experience and understand our role, with the bonus of offers of further advice and support beyond the review. If you are unsure, speak with Linda Mason and discuss the process. My team is energised, reassured and has a clear vision. Our planning has improved and the profile of the Virtual school has been raised."

NAVSH Guidance for undertaking a Peer Review of a Virtual School

This advice and guidance is intended for those local authorities preparing for a Virtual School Peer Review as well as a National Association of Virtual School Heads (NAVSH) Peer Review team. This guidance includes:

  1. 1 Introduction
  2. 2 Advice on the process
  3. 3 Learning from the pilot stage
  4. 4 Appendices to assist with planning.

A Virtual School may be judged by OFSTED as part of a wider inspection and this may be helpful.  However, the OFSTED (ILACS) framework serves a different purpose to that of a peer review.  NAVSH is committed to supporting its members and to the principle of sector led improvement.  A team of peers who fully understand the complexities of the statutory role of a VSH and the wider local authority remit of: promoting the educational achievement of children in care; those previously in care and care leavers and the extended duties around children with a social worker, are well placed to undertake a peer review.  The main purpose of a NAVSH peer review is to provide a snapshot at a period of time of strengths and areas for consideration that will make the Virtual School and the local authority more effective.

Alongside statutory guidance a peer review team may find The Virtual School Handbook helpful.  It can be found on the NAVSH website and has been produced  by the Virtual School Head community for the VSH community, as a guide to how a VSH could fulfil their duties and functions. This has recently been updated to reflect the extended duties for children with a social worker and may be found on the NAVSH App and website.

The NAVSH peer review business process has been developed through extensive consultation with its members and builds on the peer review model developed by the Local Government Association (LGA). NAVSH in partnership with the LGA has developed a bespoke training programme for Virtual School Heads.  All regions of England were represented at the initial training in July 2017. Further regional training for VSHs and on occasion Assistant Directors is on-going.  Training is normally delivered virtually on an annual basis, and can be tailored to regions.

NAVSH continues to work closely with the Association of Directors of Children’s Services (ADCS) and the LGA to identify Assistant Directors who may be interested in becoming a Lead Peer.  

To find out more please download the NAVSH Peer Review Guide

Complete your initial application to discuss registering for a peer review

View a case study peer review report - Suffolk Peer Challenge Report

View the NAVSH Peer review pilot Executive Summary