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Children In Care Council

Shaping the future of care in Bury

The Virtual School

If you would like to contact the Virtual School Headteacher Cath Atherden please call 0161 253 6868.

Our Mission Statement

It is our mission to champion the education of children and young people who are looked after by Bury.

We will do this through:

  • Closing the attainment and progress gaps between children who are looked after and their peers
  • Creating a culture of high expectations
  • Encouraging high aspirations
  • Improving life opportunities
  • And enabling our children to be the best that they can be

Our Vision

Our vision is for no young person to leave care without employment, education or training.

If you imagine that all of the children and young people in care to Bury went to the same school, that would be the Virtual School. It is called 'virtual' because in reality, Bury's children and young people in care attend a range of different real schools and educational provisions both in Bury and in other local authorities.

The Virtual School team is based at the Higher Lane Centre alongside the Social Care teams for fostering, safeguarding and children who are looked after.

The Virtual School team comprises of

  • One Virtual School Headteacher (VSH)
  • Bury's Children and Young People in Care (CYPiC) Education Team
  • Three full time teachers
  • Two Learning Mentors
  • One part time administrator.

Local authorities have a duty under the Children Act to safeguard and promote the welfare of children looked after by them. This includes a particular duty to promote children's educational achievement, wherever they live or are educated.

Cath Atherden is the Virtual School Headteacher for Bury and leads the team in trying to narrow the gap in educational outcomes between those pupils who are in care and those pupils who are not. She also has the important task of training and reporting to other professionals across the authority.

There are three teachers on the team who keep an eye on the educational progress of pupils and check that they are getting the help they need at school. Sometimes, pupils require extra support to manage in school, for example when some periods of schooling may have been missed or where pupils are experiencing difficulty in managing their emotions at school. The teachers work with schools and social care professionals to ensure that all pupils have good quality Personal Education Plans and give advice to designated teachers on how to meet the needs of pupils who are in care.

The team also has two learning mentors who work directly with pupils in school.  Amongst other things, they will make sure pupils are up-to-date with coursework and homework and will help pupils learn how to be organised and ready to learn. Learning mentors develop close relationships with the pupils they support.