Virtual Head Teacher provides extra layer of support

The achievements of Aberdeenshire’s Virtual Head Teacher over the last 12 months were recognised by the council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee on Thursday, October 8.

In 2018, the Scottish Government provided local authorities with funding from grant funding to improve educational outcomes for care experienced young people by providing focussed support.

One of the ways Aberdeenshire Council aimed to achieve this was through the creation of a Virtual Head Teacher for care experienced young people. Emma Allen was appointed the council’s Virtual Head Teacher in 2019.

There are currently 690 care experienced children and young people in Aberdeenshire’s schools. Whilst schools have overall responsibility for their education, the Virtual Head Teacher provides an extra layer of support and acts as a point of contact.

The Virtual Head Teacher developed a monitoring system across schools in Aberdeenshire to assess which care experienced children and young people required support, what their needs were and an indication of their wellbeing and engagement in their learning. During the next academic year this approach will be built on so that support can be further targeted, and areas of interest, wellbeing, resilience, engagement and learning strengthened.

The Virtual Head Teacher is proactively encouraging more care experienced young people to take part in groups in their school. She is working with one academy planning the content and purpose of the meetings and is in the process of supporting another academy form a new group which will develop according to the needs of the pupils. She is also using social media to communicate with young people and build an online community where they can feel confident sharing and communicating information. This digital platform will be built on over time and influenced by care experienced young people, where they will have a strong voice when it comes to planning and decision-making.

Cllr Gillian Owen, Aberdeenshire Council’s Education and Children’s Services Committee chair, said: “I would like to congratulate our Virtual Head Teacher Emma Allen on all the achievements outlined in this report. Her passion and commitment to care experienced children and young people in Aberdeenshire’s schools is evident and her innovation will assist with increasing attainment amongst this group who are often hard to reach and fall through the cracks.”

Committee vice chair Cllr Rosemary Bruce said: “The welcomed additional funding from the Scottish Government has allowed the service to appoint our virtual headteacher and I look forward to seeing future achievements and improvements for our care experienced children and young people.”

The report is available in full by visiting: https://committees.aberdeenshire.gov.uk/committees.aspx?commid=494

You can also watch a webcast of Education and Children’s Services Committee by visiting https://aberdeenshire.public-i.tv/core/portal/home