National Association of Virtual School Heads (NAVSH)

Birmingham Virtual School is an active member of The National Association of Virtual School Heads (NAVSH).

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Latest NAVSH commissioned research

Supporting the education and well-being of children who are looked-after: what is the role of the virtual school? by Helen Drew and Robin Banerjee.

The Children and Families Act (2014) placed a statutory responsibility on local authorities in the UK to establish a virtual school headteacher with the role of championing the education of all children looked-after within that authority.

The current research was designed to identify how virtual schools are currently supporting educational outcomes for children looked-after, through

  • educational interventions
  • supporting broader psychological factors that might impact on attainment such as attachment, relationships and mental health

Online survey

Virtual school headteachers from 29 local authorities completed an online survey about the services they provided to 3 target groups:

  • children looked-after
  • foster carers
  • schools

The questions focused on the transition years from primary to secondary school. This transition period has been identified as being a difficult time for looked after children.


Using inductive thematic analysis, 4 overarching themes to service provision were identified:

  • enhanced learning opportunities
  • specific transition support
  • well-being and relationships
  • raising awareness

Direct work, interprofessional working and the development of supportive environments, particularly guided by attachment theory, were identified as important areas of practice.

Practice is discussed in relation to resilience and ecological systems theory and suggestions for future research are identified.

Page last updated: 15 May 2024

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