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'Emotional and educational well-being of our children was top priority' during lockdown

Peterborough Virtual School continued to help children in care access education during the lockdown period.
School pupil
Support for children in care prioritised emotional and educational well-being (Photo; PA)

The delivery of PVS was adapted following the closure of schools to enable continued support for the children and young people in care, social workers, carers and designated staff and other education providers. 

In a report for the upcoming Corporate Parenting Committee Wendi Ogle-Welbourn, Corporate Director, People and Communities, wrote to Peterborough city councillors about the education of children and young people in care during the closure of schools during the national lockdown.

She wrote: "Our priority was the emotional and educational well-being of the children and young people on our school roll."

During the lockdown, all children in care were entitled to a school place within the category of vulnerable groups. However, attendance was not compulsory and carers and social workers determined whether a child would attend.

Years 11 to 13 attendance numbers were substantially lower, due to Year 11's school year ending on March 20 as no exams were going ahead, and colleges closing to sixth form, though students who attended in-school sixth forms were able to go to lessons. 

The lowest percentage of students attending in week four of lockdown was for Year 2 classes, at 18%, while the highest was Year 3, with 63%. Meanwhile, week 13 saw the lowest attendance across Year 4, with 25%, while the highest was up at 80% with Year 1. 

Ms Ogle-Welbourn added: "The Personal Education Plan (PEP) process was amended during the summer term with the usual meetings suspended except for children new into care or those with a change of school or carer.

"Designated teachers were required to complete an altered version explaining what and how work was being provided, how they were keeping in touch and what if any support was required for those not in school. Any issues relating to completion of work or lack of appropriate equipment in the home were also reported.

"For PVS staff it was business as usual with the quality assurance and sign off of all PEPs giving us access to information and providing opportunity to challenge. There were different methods of delivery of work for completion at home by schools. Some chose to provide work packs initially, moving to online and virtual lessons as the term progressed."

Schools are now open during the second national lockdown, but the committee has acknowledged the educational challenges faced by schools, children and their carers during the pandemic and the statutory role of PVS in support of these challenges.

Further discussions will take place at their meeting on November 25 at 6pm.