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Bury Virtual School

Welcome to the homepage of Bury Virtual School. We hope you find it useful and informative. Please use the links on the right to access specific information and contact us using the details below if you have any queries.

What is the Virtual School?

Bury Virtual School is not a physical school in a building. Our children are all on roll at “real” schools. Our job is to oversee and promote the education of children in care who are looked after by Bury Local Authority, wherever they live in the UK. We also have the strategic oversight of children in Bury who have a social worker or who are previously looked-after, such as children who have been adopted or are on a Special Guardianship Order. The 'virtual' nature of our school refers to the fact that we treat all our children and young people in care as if they are in one school that is just for them and works to champion their educational needs. The Virtual School does not replace the responsibilities of the child or young person's actual school, but it provides additional support and challenge. We collect data on progress, attendance and behaviour in order to monitor the performance of the children, and we work closely with their schools, carers, social workers and other professionals, placing children at the heart of decision making and planning. Specifically, we strive to do the following for all of our children in care:

Raise their educational attainment and close the gap between them and their peers who are not in care. This includes effective and appropriate use of the Pupil Premium Plus Grant (PPG).

Ensure that they make at least expected levels of progress and try to accelerate this further where possible to ensure that each young person achieves their potential. As corporate parents, we have high aspirations for our young people, just as parents do for their own children.

Ensure that they have an up-to-date, effective Personal Education Plan (PEP) that tracks their progress and outlines the support required to enable them to reach their academic targets, taking their wishes and feelings into consideration.

Improve their overall attendance and reduce rates of persistent absence.

Reduce the number of exclusions and suspensions from school, and ensure that those young people who are excluded receive their statutory entitlement to support and re-integration during this period.

Ensure that each young person is attending the school that is most appropriate to meeting their needs. Our aim is for all of Bury’s children in care to attend a school which is rated good or better by Ofsted.

Minimise, and where possible, remove social, emotional, behavioural and attachment difficulties that may prove to be barriers to accessing the curriculum.

Improve continued participation in education, employment and training opportunities for Care Leavers.

Promote equality of opportunity for all.

Ensure that their views are fully considered in decision-making and inform developments in relation to service provision and delivery.

This means that we do the following:

  • Track their attendance, attainment and progress and intervene where there are concerns.
  • Provide good quality data to support the work of the LA in promoting the educational achievements of children in care.
  • Monitor and quality assure the completion of PEPs, and attend as many PEPs as possible.
  • Manage, monitor and quality assure the use of PPG so that it improves the educational outcomes of each individual child in care.
  • Provide appropriate individual support packages for identified children in care who are not performing in line with their predicted progress, through a variety of interventions.
  • Provide training, support and guidance to a range of professionals working with children in care: Designated Teachers, school governors, social workers, foster carers and other professionals.
  • Get involved when things go wrong, by offering support, advice and guidance.
  • Challenge schools who are not meeting the needs of children in care.
  • Challenge care-planning decisions that do not appropriately meet the educational needs of the children in care.
  • Celebrate the successes and achievements of our children in care.

In addition to this we also provide key value-added interventions:

  • In-school support where required from our Learning Mentor.
  • 1:1 tuition on a variety of subjects provided by qualified tutors.
  • Literacy support via resources such as Letterbox Club and training to support literacy at home for carers.
  • Support with appropriate Alternative Provision to enrich learning and provide education support where this is indicated.
  • Transition packs for our Y6 children as they move to secondary school.
  • Provision of IT resources to aid home learning, such as laptops.
  • Aspirational programmes linked to post-16 and higher educational opportunities, such as university visits.
  • Targeted and bespoke use of PPG to support individual children’s needs, as discussed at their PEP meeting.
  • Holiday activities and other enrichment.

Who are we accountable to?

The Virtual School has its own Governing Board, just as a real school does. We are also accountable to Bury Council’s Corporate Parenting Board. We provide regular updates and newsletters to our schools, social care teams and carers throughout the year and you can read our most recent annual report here.

The Virtual School’s duties for Children with a Social Worker who are not looked-after

The Virtual School now has a new duty, which is the strategic oversight of the education of all children with a social worker, such as those on Child Protection or Child in Need plans. If you are the parent, teacher or social worker of a child receiving this support and need advice about their education, please contact Catherine Riley or Lauren Warburton using the details below.

The Bury Virtual School Team

Name Role Contact Details

Gemma Parkes

Virtual School Headteacher


Sarah Metcalfe

Virtual School Advisory Teacher
PEP Co-ordinator


Karen Riazi

Virtual School Advisory Teacher


Jo Foster

Virtual School SEND Lead

Deborah Vine

Virtual School Learning Mentor

Marion Duzgun

Virtual School Education, Employment and Training Personal Adviser (post-16 young people)


Catherine Riley

Virtual School Lead for Children with a Social Worker

Lauren Warburton

Virtual School Inclusion Advisor

Jamila Shahzad


Virtual School PEP Officer