West Berkshire's Virtual School

Last updated: 21/04/2023

West Berkshire's Virtual School is for children in care and those who were previously looked after. The aim of the service is to work with children and young people, their carers, social workers and schools to improve educational outcomes.

As a team, we have qualified and experienced consultants at every key stage. Chairing all Personal Education Planning (PEP) meetings for children in care ensures that the team has regular contact with young people and can co-ordinate interventions and support.

In addition to the above, from September 2022, we started to support the development of education for children with a social worker. This is at the strategic level so does not include individual work with children and families.

Who to contact

Contact Name
Robin Douglas
Contact Position
Virtual School Headteacher
01635 503159

Where to go

Market Street Council Offices
Market Street
RG14 5LD

The Virtual School is based at the council offices at Market Street and works in early years settings, schools and colleges (up 18 years of age).

Time / Date Details

When is it on
Open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm

Other Details


Age Ranges
Other notes

The Virtual School has responsibility to support children in care who live in and outside of West Berkshire.

With regards to previously looked after children, the Virtual School can offer advice information and guidance to parents and schools of children attending educational establishments in West Berkshire only.

Local Offer


Virtual School

West Berkshire’s Virtual School for children in care and previously looked after children challenges and supports schools, carers and social workers to ensure that children and young people in West Berkshire are supported, encouraged and challenged to attend school, engage in their education and attain good education outcomes.

Key to our approach:

  • Chairing all PEP Meetings
  • Training staff in school
  • Offering advice to foster carers, adopters and special guardians
  • Administering the pupil premium plus grant
  • Providing advice on admissions and exclusions

Designated Teachers:

Each school in West Berkshire has a Designated Teacher for looked after children and previously looked after children. Their role is to promote the educational achievement of the children on the school roll.

Pupil Premium Plus

The pupil premium plus grant for children in care is administered by the Virtual School. Funding is discussed at the PEP Meeting and applications agreed. Each child can access up to £1400 core funding per year. In challenging circumstances, it is possible for schools to apply to the Virtual Headteacher for additional funding.

Pupil premium funding for previously looked after children goes directly from the government to the school and it is down to the school to determine how that money is spent.

For more information, contact the Virtual School on 01635 519940 or email them at susan.shephard@westberks.gov.uk

Early Years, Childcare and Nursery Provision

Children in care aged 2, 3 or 4 are entitled to 15 hours free childcare per week for 38 weeks each year in:

  • Day Nurseries, pre-schools or with childminders who are eligible to claim the free entitlement
  • Independent schools
  • Local authority maintained nursery schools and nursery classes within primary/infant schools

Information about local Early Years provision can be accessed either by calling the dedicated Family Information Services on 01635 503100 or email fis@westberks.gov.uk.

Our Specialist Family Information Service also provides information and guidance where more specific advice is required to meet the needs of achild. Contact details as above.

Special Educational Needs (SEN)

Where a child in care has an Education, Health and Care Plan, the Special Educational Needs Service will maintain the EHCP on behalf of the placing authority. The team can be contacted by writing to: SEN Service, Communities Directorate, West Berkshire Council, West Street House, West Street, Newbury, Berks. RG14 1BZ

Contact Name
Robin Douglas
Contact Telephone
Contact Email
SEN Provision Type
Behavioural, Emotional & Social Difficulties
Local Offer Age Bands
1 to 4
5 to 7
7 to 11
12 to 14
15 to 16
16 to 18
19 plus

General Provider

Is your service accessible? (consider in general terms how you make your service accessible, in addition to any specific premises issues)

Yes, through contact with the team or through a social worker.

What are the eligibility criteria for your service? (please include any age restrictions, types of need catered for etc)

Any child who is in the care of West Berkshire District Council.

How are referrals/applications made to your service? (include details of who can refer/apply and referral and application process)

Support from the Virtual School is from the start of the care process through to children and young people being care leavers.

What is your service standard for responding to referrals/accessing services? (include timescales for responding to referrals and accessing services)

The Virtual School will aim to get back to you within 24 hours of your contact during term time.

Who provides / funds your service?
Local Authority
Are children, young people, parents / carers charged for your service?
Feedback and complaints procedure

Direct feedback can be received by Virtual School Consultants and the Virtual Headteacher. For formal complaints, the council’s standard procedures should be used.

How will I know my child will be safe using this service?

All staff working with the virtual school have DBS checks in place.

Quality checks

  • DBS check

West Berkshire Council do not promote or endorse any of the services listed in this Directory. For more information on this please read our disclaimer.

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