Children in care to get their own headteacher

Merton children in care are to get their very own ‘virtual’ school headteacher, thanks to the borough being awarded a new two year pilot project.

Merton Council is currently looking for the right person to be the borough’s first virtual school head who will be responsible for raising the educational achievement of children in care in the area. The role will be filled by a former headteacher or a seconded senior teacher with experience of supporting vulnerable children in school.

Merton is one of eleven local authorities that will have a two year pilot beginning in September 2007.

Councillor Debbie Shears, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said:
“We are looking forward to the start of the new pilot – it is an excellent opportunity to continue to improve the life chances of children in care.”

Children’s Minister Beverley Hughes said: “We know that children in care have not always had the support and opportunities they need to turn their lives around. This pilot project provides an exciting opportunity to transform the education of children in care, and ultimately, their lives.

“We want virtual school heads to drive up standards for children in care as though they attended a single ‘virtual school’. Virtual school heads will lead the way in supporting and challenging the system to ensure that all children in care are given the opportunities they need to reach their full potential.”

Susanna Cheal OBE, Chief Executive of The Who Cares? Trust said:

“The Who Cares? Trust supports the piloting of the virtual school head concept as an imaginative way of integrating vital support to help children in care ‘enjoy and achieve’ in education. We are pleased that the pilots will build on existing strengths and structures, encourage the development of new links to underpin local support and keep a firm grip on the data to give us evidence of what works best for our most vulnerable children and young people.”


Notes to Editors
· The 11 winning authorities are Bournemouth, Cambridgeshire, Dudley, Gateshead, Greenwich, Merton, Norfolk, Salford, Stockport, Walsall and Warwickshire.
· Funding for the second year will be confirmed with the rest of the 2008-11 Comprehensive Spending Review projects later this year.
· A White Paper for looked after children will be issued later this year.