Barnsley Virtual School

Make the most of your time at school

Your school years are some of the most important of your life.

They're a time for discovery and enjoyment. They're an opportunity to enjoy a range of experiences and unleash your passion for new and wonderful things.

Your time at school will fly by and you'll never get those years back. That's why you need to make the most of every day and grasp every opportunity that comes your way.

Tips and expectations

Gracy and George are children in care. They've sent us their tips, based on their experience in care, to help you get the most out of school.

You can also learn more about our expectations for children in care.

Tips from George aged 9

  • Work hard even when you don’t feel like it
  • Ask for help when you don’t understand
  • Your friends can encourage you
  • Play with others - don’t stay by yourself
  • Tell your friends calmly if they do something you don’t like – don’t shout
  • Remember to do your homework
  • Practise reading by reading about things you like
  • Try new things – you don’t know if you can do it if you don’t try
  • Tell your teacher if something's upsetting you
  • Everyone has something they're good at
  • Be kind to others and they'll be kind to you; say sorry when you need to

Tips from Gracy aged 15

  • Look out for others – don’t get too self absorbed
  • Seek out your learning mentor – don’t bottle things up
  • Share your skills – you have more than you think
  • Don’t be afraid to ask – there’s no such thing as a silly question
  • Having a goal is really important
  • It's OK to make mistakes
  • Teachers are there to help

Expectations for children in care

We take our role as your corporate parents very seriously.

That's why we have a list of what all our children in care can expect from us. This is to tell you how we'll care for you, make sure you get a good education, help you enjoy life and prepare you for the future. Children in care helped us to write these.

You can look at the expectations for children in care, but we'll give you your own copy when you first come into care.

People who can help you

There are lots of people who can support you when you come into care. These are a few of the people who'll look out for you, give you advice and support, and just be there if you need someone to talk to.

Designated teacher

Your school will have a designated teacher for looked after children. This person is an important contact for you in school.

It's their job to promote the education of all children in care in your school. They're responsible for making sure you get the support you need to get the best out of your time at the school.

If you're not sure who your designated teacher is, ask your carer or social worker to find out for you. 

Key worker or learning mentor

You may have a named key worker or learning mentor. This may be the designated teacher or someone else.

This person is there to help you with your day-to-day life at school and support your learning. If you have a problem during the day, they're probably the best person to go to.

If you don’t have a key worker, but think this would be helpful, ask your carer to speak to the school about setting this up for you. 

Instead of key workers, your school may have different people to support you, such as a pastoral worker or nurture group. Find out how your school offers support and make sure you get the most out of what's on offer.

Social worker

You'll have lots of chances to talk to your social worker about how you're getting on in school.

They'll be involved in producing your Termly Personal Education Plan. You can use these times to celebrate the things you're good at and share any worries you may have.

Your social worker can work with you, your school, and your carer to sort out any difficulties you may have. 


Remember, not all learning takes place in school.

Your carer can help you with any homework. It's a good idea to set up a homework routine. This will help you get into the habit of making time for homework so that you don’t get overloaded or behind with your work.

Most schools have a virtual learning space now to help with home learning, so make good use of this.

Virtual School Head

The Virtual School Head is the officer from the council who oversees the education of all children in their care. They monitor the support you get in school and make sure your school is meeting your needs.

Your social worker may ask for support from the Virtual School Head if you're moving schools. This is to make sure the school move is the right one for you. They may also ask for support if you're having difficulties in school that need support from someone outside school to sort things out.

Education advocate

The education advocate will support your social worker in making decisions about your schooling.

They'll sometimes come to your looked after child(LAC) review when decisions about your education need to be made. They'll ask you what you think about the plans for your education and help your Independent Reviewing Officers(IROs) to make sure the plans are right for you.

Special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) reviewing officer

If you have a statement or an education health and care plan, your named SEND reviewing officer will regularly review your plan to make sure it continues to meet your needs.

They'll gather information from other professionals involved in your education, like the educational psychologist or occupational health therapist. They'll also ask you how you think you're doing.

Talking to you and everyone involved in your education helps them write a plan that's just right for you.

Targeted independent advice and guidance (TIAG) worker

When you reach key stage 4, you'll have a targeted independent advice and guidance worker (TIAG). They can work with you until you turn 21, or 25 if you’re in education or training.

They'll help you think about your future and what you might like to do for a living. They'll help you plan your career path and find the right kind of course to help you achieve your aspirations. They can also support you with interviews and applications. 

Targeted information, advice and guidance (TIAG) service

The targeted information, advice and guidance service(TIAG) is there to help you make important decisions about what job or career you want in the future.

When you leave school, there are lots of things you can do:

  • stay in full time education at a sixth form or college and take either A levels or a vocational qualification
  • get an apprenticeship and earn while you learn
  • take a part-time course and combine it with at least 20 hours of voluntary work
  • go into work-based learning if you aren’t ready yet for an apprenticeship. You'll get some work experience, gain some vocational qualifications, and brush up on your maths, English and IT skills

Support for your learning

Your education is really important. We'll make sure you get the right support at the right time to help you get the best education you can.

What you can do for yourself

Did you know that how you look after yourself has a big impact on your learning?

To help you get the most out of your school day, you need to:

  • get a good night's sleep 
    If you're tired, your brain will find it harder to retain information and you won't remember what you've learned. Get into the habit of a regular bedtime routine on school nights.
  • eat a healthy diet 
    Make sure you fuel your body for the school day. Make time for breakfast. If you're hungry you'll be low in energy and find it more difficult to get actively involved in your lessons.
  • get regular exercise 
    This is great for your mood and sense of wellbeing. If you feel positive you're more likely to be up for the challenge of learning something new. You don’t have to join a gym. Walking, cycling and swimming are great exercise. They help both sides of the brain work together, which is really good for your learning.
  • drink plenty of water 
    The brain needs water to function, so keep well hydrated.
  • be prepared
    Make sure you have the equipment you need for each day. It’s a good idea to get it ready the night before.
  • keep focused on the purpose of the learning 
    If you know why you're learning something, it can help you stay focused if the going gets tough. Keep your eyes on your long term goals. Doing well at school will open a world of possibilities for your future career aspirations.        

What your carer can do for you

Having someone who believes in your abilities can have a really positive impact on your achievements.

Your carer can help by:

  • making sure you've got somewhere suitable to do your homework
  • giving you access to the internet to support your learning
  • sitting with you while you do your homework to help you stay focused
  • staying in regular contact with your school
  • contributing to your Termly Personal Education Plan(TPEP)

What your school can do for you

Your school is responsible for planning the best learning journey for you. They get extra funding to do this, so that you're able to do your best at school. 

Your school can spend the money on anything that will help your learning, such as:

  • extra help for you in the classroom
  • one-to-one tuition
  • giving you access to broader learning experiences
  • making sure you have a chance to develop a particular skill or talent
  • support to help you manage your emotions
  • nurture groups
  • more small group work opportunities

The school designated teacher will monitor how well it's going and the difference it's making to your learning. It's important that the school includes your views in any plans for your education.   

What the virtual school can do for you

The Virtual School keeps a check on the quality of the education you receive. It can:

  • help your school make best use of the extra money to support your learning
  • challenge your school if there's something that's not going right for you
  • advise your designated teacher on the best way to help you
  • work with your school, social worker, and Independent Reviewing Officer(IRO) to plan the best education pathway for you.

Your Personal Education Plan (PEP)

Your education plan is a really important document and it's written just for you.

It brings together all the information about your learning needs into one place. It helps everyone supporting your education to know what your strengths are and what you need to get better at.

What your plan says

Your plan says what your school's doing for you and what extra help you need to succeed. It includes:

  • a description of the school you attend and how they support your learning
  • your progress against your personal targets and those expected for your age
  • information about your school attendance
  • things you're good at
  • things that get in the way of your learning that you may need help to overcome
  • your long-term goals and aspirations
  • out of school clubs and activities you can attend
  • things your school can give you to learn at home

Your school gets extra money from the government to help you achieve your potential. Your plan tells you how your school will spend this money.

The Virtual School Head checks your plan each term to make sure it's the best it can be. If it needs improving, they'll work with the school to to do this.

The plan also includes a section about how your carer will support you to reach the targets that are set for you each term.

Have your say

There's a section of the plan where you can have your say. Your social worker will talk to you about this.

You can add what you think helps you learn and how you feel you're doing at school.

You can also add things you feel you need help with. It's also a good place to share your ambitions.

Everyone who helps you with your learning should know what’s in your plan to help you succeed.

Got some advice you want to share? Email us at and we'll include it on this page

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