Agenda item

Virtual School Kent Update

To receive a report by the Cabinet Member for Specialist Children’s Services and the Corporate Director of Social Care, Health & Wellbeing that gives an update on the work of the Virtual School Kent in raising and supporting the educational attainment of children and young people in care.


1.            The Headteacher, Virtual School Kent (VSK), Mr Doran, introduced a report and highlighted the following data on children in care’s outcomes, the direction of travel in level 4 plus reading writing and mathematics combined over the last 3 years there had been a 9% improvement in attainment and a 3% narrowing of the gap of national outcomes, Kent had a significantly larger cohort than most local authorities.  He broke this down as follows; 14% rise in mathematics and a reduction in the gap of 8%. There was an 11% improvement in attainment in reading and 7% reduction in the gap; and a 15% improvement in attainment in writing and a reduction of 7% in the gap.  The Key Stage 4 outcomes, GCSE examinations, the picture was in two parts; (i) was the direction of travel in 2010 2013 was an 8.6% in improvement in attainment with 5A*-C including English and Mathematics and reduced the gap with the national by 5.9%. (ii) 2014 results.  He explained that The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) wrote to all Headteachers to say that 2014 results were not comparable to previous results for multiple reasons including vocational qualification equivalencies were downgraded and those children were far more successful with modular vocational qualifications.  The shift in weighting of certain key examinations eg English GCSE moved the weighting of the final examination to 60% before it was 60% on the course work. There was also the introduction of the first entry county for the GCSE qualifications.


2.            Kent had a 1.4% downturn to 13% achieving 5A*-C including English and Mathematics looking at the first entry this dropped to 8%. The drop for best entry was line national for Children in Care.  Nationally 3% of Children in Care were from an Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) background, the vast majority were in care for just over 12 months.  The year 11s cohort, 20% were UASC, nearly seven times the national average.  In terms of their literacy and English as an additional language it was not possible to achieve 5A*-C including English and mathematics.


3.            Mr Doran stated that if the weighting was applied with Kent’s outcomes that pulled Kent in line with the national outcomes of 3%, Kent would have exceeded the national outcomes.


4.            Mr Doran explained that the identification of NEETS UASC enable the strengthening of the destination offer.


5.            There had been case studies on the Pupil Premium, which identified positive work being carried out across Kent schools on a child by child basis.  He gave the example of Leigh Academy that were doing work on managing feelings and emotions.


6.            Mr Doran explained that his Teams area of work had increased in commissioning to extend support to 16-18 year olds in care in Kent, working closely with the Skills and Employability Team and other services within Education and Young People’s Services Directorate.


7.            Mr Doran responded to questions by Members as follows:



·         Mr Doran explained that VSK took over the Education Assessment Service three years ago.  That service was set up to support UASC and to carry out their initial education assessment.  At their peak they were commissioned to carry out 18 education assessments per calendar month at the highest point they were delivering 38 education assessments per calendar month.  Since June 24 until 7 July there had been 102 arrivals, four times higher than the Education Assessment Service had experienced before.

·         A Member commented that there were concerns in Ramsgate too.

·         A request was made for a picture of where UASC under 16 years old were in school and where all the remaining UASC were, 16 to 18 years old and beyond, to show the spread of achievements across the county.  It was advised that the landscape was changing rapidly and so different to how it looked before.  They would arrive at Milbank to be process and orientated and then they would be placed from there elsewhere in the County.

·         A Member commented that it was difficult to have comparison with UASC as it took time for those children to be assessed and once assessed it took at least a year for them to settle them into school.  He considered that the results of Children in Care were good as they came with many issues.



8.            RESOLVED that:-


a)    the comments and responses to questions by Members be noted;


b)    the validated position on 2014 performance outcomes for Kent’s children in care be noted; and


c)      the work of the Virtual School Kent (VSK) with particular reference     to post 16 developments be noted.


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