A ‘VIRTUAL head teacher’ is to be charged with improving educational achievements of children in care in Somerset.

The decision comes after a report highlighted how the county’s ‘children looked after’ (CLA) lag behind most of the rest of the country.

A report showed that in Somerset:

  • 11-year-old CLA Key Stage 2 results were well below the national average last year, despite being above the country’s average the previous year;
  •  Only 8% of 16-year-old CLA achieved five GCSEs, including English and maths, at grade C and above in the last two years – about 7% below the national average;
  •  The portion of CLA making expected progress in both age brackets is lower than nationally; n Exclusion rates are higher at 17% than the national average of 12%;
  •  Absence rates are 6.6% compared to 5.7% nationally.

The county council wants to put things right by appointing the virtual head to take responsibility from September for about 500 children in 260 schools and academies.

Other initiatives to improve outcomes include personal education plans, the deployment of a team of education support workers, providing children with a monthly parcel of work books and support in regard of permanent expulsions.

At the same time, the amount of funding per CLA students has been doubled to £1,900 a year.