The Head of the Virtual School presented an update on the work carried out by the Virtual School from September 2022 to July 2023 (for copy of report and presentation see file of minutes).
As at 21 July 2023, there were 766 Durham children looked after, of statutory school age and of these 42% were female and 58% were male. 22% were supported by an EHCP and 31% were identified as requiring SEND support. Attendance is improving following the disruption caused by the pandemic and whilst primary attendance is good, secondary attendance requires attention. As a result, PEP caseworkers are focusing on attendance in order to identify barriers. The report included detailed information on GCSE results.
Responding to a question from the Panel as to the number of suspensions, the Head of the Virtual School clarified that all schools have a behavior for learning policy and pupils may be suspended for several reasons including breaking school rules, disruptive behavior and refusing to engage. Alternative provision is considered as an alternative to exclusion.