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Agenda item

Durham Virtual School Annual Report 2018/19


The Chair welcomed Melanie Stubbs, Head of the Virtual School, who was in attendance to present the Durham Virtual School Annual Report for 2018/19 (for copy see file of minutes).


The Virtual School Head explained the report had been compiled prior to her appointment in January and she thanked the Interim Head of the Virtual School, Fiona Callaghan, and, the former Head, Christine Stonehouse, for all their work on the report and for the support they provided on her appointment to the post.


The Virtual School Head summarised the main headlines of the report which include that performance shows improvement at all measures except reading at KS1.  The Panel noted that speech and language assessments are carried out on all looked after children when they enter the school, and, dedicated speech and language support is provided to help support children in care.  It was also noted that a Therapeutic Social Worker had been appointed to support emotional wellbeing.

Priorities for 2020 include improving KS1 outcomes, addressing gender gaps across the board i.e. improving reading and English for boys and maths for girls, and, raising awareness in schools of the impact of early trauma.


The Chair thanked the Head of the Virtual School for the report and presentation and asked the Panel for comments and questions.


In response to a question on the target time for an Education Health and Care Plan assessments (EHCP), the Panel noted that the target is 20 weeks.  Councillor Smith informed the Panel that this is an area which the Children and Young People’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee is considering reviewing, including plans to meet future targets and future demand for EHCP plans.  The Head of Children’s Social Care clarified that children who are looked after do not typically experience delays.


A young person from the Children in Care Council asked what assurance can be given to looked after children and young people that confidentiality can be guaranteed.  The Head of the Virtual School assured the young person that although it is sometimes necessary for information that a young person is looked after to be shared between teaching staff, staff are well aware of the importance of respecting confidentiality and this information is shared only when it is necessary to do so.  She added that the Virtual School would raise this in the upcoming Head Teacher Briefing sessions to flag young people’s concerns directly with Head Teachers.  A Member who is a school governor reassured the young person that, at the governing body meetings she attends, this type of information is not shared.




That the report be noted.




Supporting documents:


Democratic Services
Durham County Council
County Hall
County Durham
03000 269 714