Vulnerable Children Education Team (VCET)

The East Riding virtual school is also known as the Vulnerable Children Education Team (VCET). The primary responsibility is to promote the education of children looked-after (CLA) and previously looked-after children (PLAC). The team is responsible for all aspects of access to education and educational progress of East Riding children looked-after. The virtual school also provides advice and guidance to support the education of previously looked-after children.

Find out more about the team's structure:

2023 VCET structure chart (pdf 110kb)

What is the mission statement of the virtual school?

The East Riding of Yorkshire virtual school has passionate champions creating bright futures for our children and young people, supporting them to develop holistically from birth into adulthood.

We listen to the child's voice and place it at the heart of everything that we do - working together to ensure that everyone has the highest aspirations and does whatever it takes to ensure success along their journey.

What are the responsibilities of the virtual school?

The responsibilities of the virtual school include:

  • implementing the statutory responsibilities for looked after children and previously looked after children
  • managing the allocation and the effective use of the LAC Premium Grant for East Riding looked after children
  • organising and chairing the termly Personal Education Plan (PEP) meeting for East Riding looked after children including children placed outside the East Riding local education authority
  • promoting the education of children with a social worker
  • delivering training for designated teachers, social workers, foster carers and other professionals to help understand the issues and challenges faced by looked after children and previously looked after children
  • monitoring and reporting on the educational progress, attainment and attendance of East Riding looked after children
  • promoting high aspiration and raising achievement through challenge, support and targeted intervention.

How is the virtual school staffed?

The virtual school is made up of the following staff:

  • virtual school head teacher
  • virtual school deputy head
  • teaching and training co-ordinator
  • education welfare officer (North Area)
  • education welfare officer (West Area)
  • education welfare officer (East Area)
  • post-16 lead (CLA)
  • educational advocate (PLAC)
  • education welfare officer (PLAC)
  • higher level teaching assistant (CLA)
  • technical officer
  • performance technicians (CLA and children with a social worker)
  • senior educational psychologist
  • strategic leads for the education of children with a social worker (early years, primary, secondary and post 16).

Contact us:

Tel: (01482) 394000 - option 7

What is the virtual school for looked after children?

The East Riding virtual school is not a teaching institution or building but a way of bringing together the information about children and young people who are cared for by the East Riding local authority as if they were in a single school. That way, their progress can be closely tracked and supported, and interventions can be targeted in a more strategic way.

The school has a headteacher - a statutory post within every local authority - who, as a senior manager within the authority can support and challenge local authority departments, schools and other agencies to help them do better.

Children placed in East Riding schools by other local authorities remain the responsibility of the placing authority's virtual headteacher, although East Riding of Yorkshire Council will support colleagues with local information, advice and signposting.

We are a team of staff who work to promote the best educational outcomes for:

  • children in care
  • children previously in care
  • children with a social worker or who have had a social worker within the past 6 years.

We know that these children and young people can do very well in early years settings, school and post 16 provision, despite the challenges they have faced. However, we know that there is a gap between the attainment of these children and their peers. We also know that doing well in education opens greater opportunities as children grow up.

It is vital that we work with our partners to raise the profile of these children, remove barriers to their education and ensure they are supported so that they are achieving the very best that they can.

At the virtual school we work to ensure that all our children:

  • achieve their full potential in education
  • attend a setting that best suits their needs
  • maintain a high level of attendance without school exclusions
  • enter employment, education or training when they leave school.

What is a Personal Education Plan (PEP)?

All children in the care of East Riding have a PEP monitored by the virtual school head teacher. A PEP is a statutory requirement to ensure that a record is maintained regarding a child's educational progress. It therefore forms an integral part of a child's overall care plan.

The PEP meeting for pre-school pupils is aligned to the looked after children review under the leadership of an early years' development advisor.

For post-16 pupils the personal education plan is incorporated within their pathway plan.

PEP meetings are held a minimum of three times a year. All PEP documents are completed on Azeus Care, the East Riding’s live case management system. These can be accessed by the Children’s Independent Reviewing Officer as part of the care plan.

More information about a PEP can be found at:

YouTube - Top tips for a PEP (external website)

A PEP has 4 sections:

  1. Section A – completed by the educational setting to gain child/young person’s views
  2. Section B – completed by the social worker - up-to-date children’s social care information, social worker and carer’s views about education
  3. Section C – completed by the designated teacher - up-to-date attainment and progress. Short and long-term SMART targets
  4. Section D – completed by the Education Welfare Officer - minutes of the PEP meeting.

Who attends a PEP?

  • Young person
  • Education Welfare Officer (EWO)
  • Designated teacher/trusted adult from education setting
  • Social worker
  • Carer
  • Additional supporting professionals.

What are the roles and responsibilities of designated teachers?

Effective designated teachers have a leadership role in promoting the educational achievement of every looked after and previously looked after child on the school’s roll. This involves, working with virtual school to promote the education of looked after and previously looked after children and promoting a supportive whole school culture.

The designated teacher should be a central point of initial contact within the school. They should:

  • provide leadership, training, information, challenge and advice to others that will influence decisions
  • ensure that school policies and approaches appropriately reflect the needs of looked after and act as a champion for them
  • see children looked after as individuals rather than as a homogeneous group, not publicly treat them differently from their peers, and show sensitivity about who else knows about their looked after
  • appreciate the central importance of the looked after child's Personal Education Plan (PEP) and most importantly, the child's own understanding of how they are being supported
  • lead and coordinate the schools' processes in relation to PEP
  • understand how the PEP fits into the wider care planning duties of the authority which looks after the child
  • work closely with parents and guardians of previously looked after children.

The audit tool below will support designated teachers to evaluate their current strengths and will highlight areas for further support or training within their settings.

Training for education settings is published and bookable via Here for Schools (external website).

Designated teachers self-evaluation audit tool (word 28kb)

How is the education of previously looked after children being promoted?

The virtual headteacher keeps an up-to-date roll of children in the care of the East Riding and monitors their attendance, attainment and progress.

Previously looked after children are those who:

  • are no longer looked after by a local authority in England and Wales because they are the subject of an adoption, special guardianship or child arrangements order
  • were adopted from 'state care' outside England and Wales. 'State care' is care provided by a public authority, a religious organisation, or any other organisation whose sole or main purpose is to benefit society.

It does not refer to children who have been 'looked after' and have been returned to the care of their parent(s).

How we support our previously looked after children

The virtual school must:

  • champion the educational needs and raise attainment of previously looked after children and young people (from nursery to 25 years) through the provision of information and advice to their parents, educators and other professionals where necessary
  • promote aspiration for educational achievement by demanding it is a priority within the lives of previously looked after children to improve outcomes and life chances
  • ensure our children and young people have access to the best possible education and every chance to progress and realise their individual potential.

How is the education of children with a social worker being promoted?

An extension to the role of the virtual school

In September 2021, the virtual school’s duties expanded to include strategic leadership for the promotion of educational outcomes for children with a social worker and those who have been open to Children’s Social Care within the previous 6 years, aged from 0-18. This role takes the form of providing advice and information to social workers and schools, as well as working to enhance partnerships across the local authority to support the narrowing of the gap in outcomes.

It's well evidenced that this group of children face significant barriers to success in education because of their experiences, so it's vitally important that the virtual school works with partners to promote high aspirations.

This will build on the virtual school’s statutory work which has improved outcomes for children looked after and on our offer for previously looked after children.

How will we do this?

  • Make visible the disadvantages that children with a social worker can experience, enhancing partnerships between education settings and local authorities to help all agencies hold high aspirations for these children.
  • Promote practice that supports children’s engagement in education, recognising that attending an education setting can be an important factor in helping to keep children safe from harm.
  • Provide advice to individual headteachers, principals, designated safeguarding leads, social workers, SENDCOs in schools, colleges and early years provision where they have a query.
  • Work collaboratively with the Education Welfare Service to advise schools/colleges/early years provision and social workers on how they can work together to support improvements in attendance, punctuality and behaviour avoiding exclusion.
  • Support schools, colleges and early years settings to work towards attachment and trauma awareness through training, funded by the virtual school.
  • Work with the School Improvement Service’s Disadvantaged Champions Network to advise schools and early years settings on how to best to use Pupil Premium to promote attendance, punctuality, attainment and progress.
  • Level-up children’s outcomes and narrow the attainment gap, so that every child can reach their potential.

What are the limits to this duty?

We will not:

  • work with individual children, young people and their families - including tracking and monitoring educational progress of individuals or providing academic or other interventions.
  • respond to requests from parents or carers to offer advice, intervention and support in relation to individual children with a social worker.
  • take responsibility for children with Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) who do not require or need a social worker.

Why do we have this duty?

The Government’s Children in Need Review recognised the crucial role that virtual school headteachers have in helping education settings and local authorities work together and made a commitment to explore the capacity needed to extend their leadership to the cohort of children and young people with a social worker.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) has affected all children and for many of the most vulnerable has increased barriers to education. It is essential that the cohort of children with a social worker are supported to recover from the pandemic.

“Our ambition is to transform the lives of the most vulnerable and disadvantages including those with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and in care and ensure that those who have lost the most from the pandemic can recover and flourish, and that prosperity benefits all.”

Please contact us at if you need any advice or information in relation to this cohort of children and young people.

More information can be found on the following links:

DfE - Promoting the education of children with a social worker June 2022 (external pdf)

GOV.UK - Review of children in need (external website)

What Works for Children's Social Care - Education for children who have had social workers (external website)

What are the arrangements for the allocation of LAC Premium for East Riding looked after children?

Allocation of LAC Premium will be focused on children’s individual needs, managed through high quality PEP documentation. An education welfare officer from the Vulnerable Children’s Education Team (VCET) will chair every PEP meeting. At these termly PEP meetings the use of the LAC Premium to promote educational outcomes will be discussed. LAC Premium needs to be matched to SMART targets/outcomes identified on the education section of the PEP document completed by the designated teacher. At each future PEP meeting, the use of the LAC Premium will be discussed, and the outcomes reviewed and monitored.

LAC Premium should be spent to support the education of the CLA. Schools may use LAC Premium towards the cost of the designated teachers’ time preparing the educational PEP information and attending meetings. In addition, LAC Premium can pay the cost for supply cover in order that school staff can attend designated teacher training organised by the East Riding virtual school.

All LAC Premium requests will need to be itemised on the PPG form and matched to SMART targets/outcomes. The virtual school head teacher is responsible for monitoring the LAC Premium spending on each CLA.

LAC Pupil Premium - 2022 to 2023 (pdf 66kb)

Management and accountability

The education welfare officer will present the LAC Premium requests to the virtual school panel meeting every fortnight. There will be an email letter to schools informing them of the allocation of funding after the panel meeting. Funding will be allocated to schools following this notification.

The virtual head teacher will be accountable to the virtual school governance panel and the Corporate Parenting Group for monitoring the allocation of LAC Premium and ensuring the maximised impact of the grant.

What are the most frequently asked questions from parents and carers about education?

1. My child is starting school soon, how can I get help to choose a school?

It is advisable to research all of the schools you are interested in, including attending their open days or arranging to visit beforehand as well as reviewing their Ofsted reports which can be found at:

Find an Ofsted inspection report (external website)

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council School Admissions Team will be able to help with any questions you have about the admissions process and will be able to provide general information about all schools in the East Riding of Yorkshire. This can be found at School places and admissions.

Previously looked after children (PLAC) are entitled to priority placing within a school so it is important that you included your child’s previously looked-after status on the admissions form. If you have more specific questions about a school – for example around attachment awareness, whether they are trauma informed or have nurture provision, it is advisable to approach each school directly.

The East Riding of Yorkshire Council virtual school, known as the Vulnerable Children in Education Team (VCET) will also be able to offer advice about any schools that could meet your child’s needs.

2. What is pupil premium plus and how do I access it?

Pupil Premium Plus (PP+) is additional funding schools receive and manage which is designed to help improve the educational outcomes for previously looked-after children and close the attainment gap between them and their peers. Parents must make the school aware that their child has previously been in the care system and the school may ask you to provide evidence of this.

The school will then record this so that funding can be allocated. The Pupil Premium+ funding is ring-fenced and must be used for the previously looked-after cohort in school. Parents should note that the funding is not a budget for an individual child. A good school should encourage parents of their adopted children to be involved in discussions how the funding could be used for the cohort.

3. How do I help my child’s school to understand curriculum triggers like family trees, NSPCC talks etc?

It is important to develop and maintain regular communication with your child’s school and designated teacher for previously looked-after pupils from the outset. Go into school early in the term and explain the potential triggers so they can be prepared. Wherever possible share as much information as you can (this will depend on the age of the child and how much the child wants to share) and work with the school to consider:

  • What does the young person know about their past?
  • What are their worries or concerns?
  • What sort of activity in school might cause them upset or distress?
  • If they can let you know about something that might be happening in advance?

You may need to be prepared to give the school guidance on how they should handle the situation and you could also signpost the school or designated teacher to DfE post-adoption documents and/or adoption support resources that you feel could be useful with regard to your child.

4. How do I challenge the behaviour policy of my child's school?

Every school must have a behaviour policy and must make this available in writing to parents. However, there are differences in how this might be done depending on the type of school your child attends. Many schools publish a copy of the behaviour policy on their website.

If your child attends an academy and a copy is not published on the website, then a copy must be made available to you on request. If you feel that a school disciplinary policy in unreasonable then you would need to discuss this further with the head teacher and the school’s governing body. However, the law states that in a maintained school “the headteacher must decide the standard of behaviour expected of pupils at the school. He or she must also determine the school rules and any disciplinary penalties for breaking the rules.

When deciding what these measures should be, the headteacher must take account of the governing body’s statement of behaviour principles.” In an Academy, “the proprietor of an Academy school is required to ensure that a written policy to promote good behaviour among pupils is drawn up and effectively implemented. The policy must set out the disciplinary sanctions to be adopted if a pupil misbehaves. The proprietor is also required to ensure that an effective anti-bullying strategy is drawn up and implemented.”

Things which should be taken into consideration include the following:

  • Are sanctions monitored to identify any inconsistency or potential discrimination (e.g. Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) or ethnicity)?
  • Are systems in place to identify pupils showing persistent poor behaviour and if there are any underlying causes?

From September 2018, the designated teacher for previously looked after children should make sure that policies do not discriminate against students who have experienced early trauma.

5. My child is struggling at school, who do I go to for help?

If your child is struggling at school it is recommended to speak to their class teacher or designated teacher in the first instance to discuss your concerns. Depending on how you feel your child is struggling, be it in their learning, making friends, socialising etc. they may be able to recommend extra support or suggest how they could do things differently in lessons to help your child feel more comfortable and confident. It is also worth considering what you can do at home to further support their learning and personal development at school such as:

  • get to the root of the issue. Speak with your child as well as their teacher to get to the bottom of what’s contributing to the problem. By understanding where the problems are coming from, you and your child will be able to both confront them and fix them, together
  • instead of asking ‘how was school’ ask specific questions based on what you know about their school day. Ask about what they have learnt, what they found interesting, even asking what they had for lunch shows you are interested in their day
  • provide your child with the resources they need and create a safe, healthy working environment at home to help them on their way.

6. How do I approach school to support my child who is struggling at home but seems OK at school?

Allow the child to see that home and school are working together and providing consistent messages. Make sure you involve your child, talk to them and get their views. It might also be useful to ask yourself some questions:

  • Why do you think the child is struggling at home?
  • What could be causing the child stress at school – could additional support be put in place in school so that the child is not like a shaken up bottle of fizzy drink being opened when they return home? Is it something social, emotional or educational?
  • What additional skills are needed for the child to manage?
  • Do you really know how well your child is thriving at school? Educationally, socially, emotionally, mentally and friendships - Or are certain things being masked?

7. I need help understanding the Education, Health and Care plan (EHCP)

The EHCP describes your child’s special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and the help they will get to meet them. An EHCP also includes any health and care provision that is needed. It is a legal document written by the local authority and is intended to ensure that children and young people with an EHCP receive the support they need.

If you need help understanding your child’s EHCP contact your child’s teacher or the Special Educational Needs Coordinator (SENCO) at school. Further advice could be sought from your SEND Officer within the SEND Team of the local authority that wrote your child’s EHCP. You can find out more about SEND Support by:

SENDIASS can give you impartial advice and support and explain your options. This may include independent disagreement resolution, mediation or going to appeal. More information can be found here:

KIDS SENDIASS (external website)

8. How do I handle transitions in school (change of teacher, moving to secondary school etc.)?

Transition can be a very difficult time for young people who do not like change. Therefore, whenever possible careful planning and an extended period of transition activities can help to ease any worries or feelings of uncertainty. Key to this is:

  • sharing of information

  • the young person getting to know the physical space they will be moving to

  • the young person building relationships in advance of the move For a change of school:- All schools have a designated teacher (DT). It would be very useful to ask for a meeting with the DT from both schools to plan the transition.

  • free transition support in West Yorkshire, North Yorkshire and Humber - The consultants offer 1:1 support sessions with families by helping plan for smooth transitions, taking you through the stages and strategies for transition planning and setting goals to achieve this. This will be carried out via 6 structured and planned online or telephone sessions. The online groups will be signposting you to resources and useful documents and you can connect with other families going through similar challenges, these monthly online video groups will allow for sharing and networking. These sessions can be accessed through Adoption UK:
    Adoption UK (external website)

  • further support can be found at: UCL - Information, Downloads and Resources (external website).

Where transition works well:

  • Transition activities are planned well in advance
  • A key worker from each school is involved in this planning
  • Information, for example academic and detailed knowledge about the young person is shared between the schools
  • Key workers visit the young person in their existing school
  • Key workers go on visits with the young person to the new school – this may be as part of a bigger transition programme if all children are moving. This enables the young person to build relationships in advance of the school move and be able to find their way around the school. Gather as much information as you can and talk everything through with your child so they understand what will happen. Use visual displays at home of timetables, map of school layout, photographs etc. and give them lots of reassurance, before and during the transition period. Be prepared that it may take quite a while for them to settle in.

9. My child has been suspended from school. Where can I go for help?

If your child has been suspended, speak to school via the designated teacher in the first instance to ascertain what has happened and if there is anything which could be done to rectify the situation.

For children and young people who are looked after or previously looked after you can also contact VCET. The statutory guidance on suspensions can be found below (also available from the DfE website):

Suspension and permanent exclusion from maintained schools, academies and pupil referral units in England, including pupil movement ( (pdf 544kb)

A school’s governing body has a duty to consider parents’ representations about a suspension. The extent of this duty and how it is exercised depend on the length and nature of the exclusion. If the governing body uphold a permanent exclusion, parents have the right to request that their decision is reviewed by an Independent Review Panel (IRP). Useful contacts for advice on exclusion are:

10. What help can I access for my child post-16?

Post-16 options are full-time education (e.g. at a school or college), an apprenticeship or trainee-ship, or part-time education or training, as well as being employed, self-employed or volunteering for 20 hours or more a week. Some financial support may be available.

In England young people may be eligible to apply for a 16 to 19 Bursary Fund to help with studying cost for example equipment you may need for your course and travel expenses. The bursary is paid directly by the school, college or training provider. They will decide how much and when it is paid.

All young people should be offered careers advice at school during Key Stage 4 to help them explore and decide upon a post-16 pathway. You can speak to the school’s designated teacher if you think that this has not been made available to your young person or you feel they need further support. You and your young person can also check the websites of post-16 education and training providers for information about courses and the dates for information events.

How can parents/carers support children looked after (CLA)and previously looked after children (PLAC)?

It is important that looked after children and previously looked after children achieve the best possible educational outcomes. It is vital that all adults around the young person including parents and carers are working together to support the education of looked after children.

As parents and carers you can support children in your care by doing the following:

  • Taking an interest in your child’s education, recognising their talents and achievements
  • Providing a home environment where education and aspirations are discussed
  • Creating a nurturing learning environment in the home
  • Ensuring that children have a quiet place, the time to do homework and access to resources
  • Making sure that appointments and meetings are arranged outside of school time, where possible
  • Establishing positive relationships with key education staff, particularly the designated teacher
  • Communicating regularly with key education staff, making sure that school are kept informed of any changes that could impact on the child’s learning or behaviour
  • Familiarising yourself with the school's behaviour policy and other relevant policies
  • Ensuring that you attend parent’s evenings
  • Attending the Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings for CLA; contributing your views in the PEP document and during the meeting
  • Asking for support when you need it. The virtual school or the child’s social worker will always be happy to provide advice and support in relation to education.

Please contact the virtual school for training dates offered to parents and carers via email:


What support can be provided by educational psychologists (EPs) for CLA and PLAC?

Educational psychologists (EPs) have a list of children looked after (CLA) who attend the schools they support. At termly planning meetings, EPs discuss children and young people who are looked after, previously looked after and those open to children’s social care to see if there is a need for involvement. EPs have produced the following guidance documents which offer useful strategies and approaches:

Tips for designated teachers and school staff (pdf 480kb)

Supporting CLA guidance for schools (pdf 1.5mb)

Supporting CLA EY booklet (pdf 4.6mb)

At the start of each term all East Riding CLA with an education, health and care (EHC) plan are given a RAG (red, amber, green) rating by the Vulnerable Children Education Team (VCET). This will help to scaffold discussions by EPs at planning meetings.

Training for designated teachers is offered once a term which EPs are involved in delivering.

For children and young people receiving SEN support, it is the responsibility of the educational psychologist to provide general advice.

When an education health and care needs assessment is requested, there are different scenarios in terms of who is best placed to provide EP support and advice depending on the child/young person's home authority and where they are living and being educated.

Where else can I access support?

East Riding Local Offer

Find out about services and support available to children and young people from birth to 25 years with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

East riding local offer (external council website)


All those affected by adoption, Special Guardianship and other forms of permanent care are supported and enabled to live their lives to the full.

PAC-UK (external website)

One Adoption

One Adoption (external website)


A charity for children and young people in care and care leavers.

Become charity (external website)


Do you have any frequently-asked questions from those who are new to care?

Will I still go to school when I go into care?

Yes, if you are aged between 5 and 16 years you must be in education. If you are 16 to 18 years you must also be in education, training/apprenticeship or employment.

Will I have to change schools when I go into care?

Your social worker will try to find you somewhere to live which is near enough for you to keep going to your own school. If this is not possible, you may have to change to a school which is nearer to where you are living. We will make sure that you attend a school that is rated ‘good’ or outstanding by Ofsted.

What is a Personal Education Plan (PEP)?

Any child or young person who is in care must have a personal education plan, sometimes you may hear it called a PEP. It’s a plan to make sure your educational needs are being met and you have the support in school that you need. Your PEP sets out targets that you and your teachers will work on together. If you feel you are behind with schoolwork or are struggling to understand what you are being taught, please talk to your designated teacher, social worker or carer. A PEP review meeting will take place to discuss your targets and your progress

What is a PEP review meeting?

A PEP review meeting is set up every term and is usually held in your school. The meeting happens so that your PEP targets can be talked about and everyone can agree what to write on your plan. This is your opportunity to make sure your views are heard.

Who comes to my PEP review?

You are the first person who is invited to come to your PEP meeting!

Other people who will attend will be someone from your school who knows you, your social worker, your carer or key worker and your school’s designated teacher. Your Education Welfare Officer from the virtual school will lead the meeting.

What is a designated teacher?

Every school has a 'designated teacher' for children in care. They should know that you are in care and give you help with any problems in school. They will let your carer and social worker know how you are doing.

What is the virtual school?

The virtual school isn’t actually a school, but it keeps a record of everyone who’s in our care who attend any nursery, school or college. Virtual school staff are there to help things to go as smoothly as possible. They also keep track of how you’re making progress and achieving. Like a real school, there is a headteacher in charge and a board of governors to make sure things are going as well for you as possible.

What does the virtual school do?

The virtual school works with your school, social worker, and Independent Reviewing Officer to plan the best education pathway for you. We keep a check on the quality of the education you receive. We help your school make the best use of the extra money provided to support your learning. When there is something that is not going right, we challenge your school and advise your designated teacher on the best way to help you.

What will my school do to help me learn and achieve?

Your school is responsible for planning the best learning journey for you. They get some extra money to make sure you are able to do your best at school.

Your school can spend the money on anything that will help your learning, such as extra help for you in the classroom, one-to-one tuition, activities to make sure you have a chance to develop a particular skill, talent or have access to broader learning experiences.

The designated teacher will monitor how well it's going and the difference it's making to your learning. It is important that the school includes your views in any plans for your education.

Subscribe to East Riding of Yorkshire Council

Stay updated on the latest East Riding news

We use GovDelivery to send you emails, which is secure and you can choose to stop receiving emails at any time.

Find out more in our Privacy notice.

Subscribe to East Riding News