Top class virtual school

Buckinghamshire’s Virtual School is supporting more care leavers to go on to higher education and university.

Currently 20 Buckinghamshire care leavers are at university studying a range of courses including sports therapy, medicine, health and social care, law and nursing, with a further 14 post-16 students who are being supported to apply to university in the next two years.

Through a collaboration with Study Higher, a network of higher education providers who work together to improve participation in higher education, the Virtual School has recently run a university taster day at Oxford Brookes University, which gave the students an insight into what it might be like to be a university student, experience life in halls and see a lecture in action.

It is part of the county council and supports the educational achievement of the county’s children in care and care leavers.

Tolis Vouyioukas (pictured above), Executive Director for Children’s Services, said: ‘I want all our children in care and our care leavers to know and believe that they can achieve their goals in life, whatever they might be.

‘And for our students in care who want to go on to higher education or university, we will support them in that.

‘It’s vital that we encourage our young people to reach their full academic potential and we do that through our team of Virtual School specialist teachers and through financial and all-round support.

‘I’m proud to say that the county council itself has two young people working in apprenticeships run by the county council, one in care and one care leaver.

‘Both are doing exceptionally well and this is credit to their hard work and determination to succeed. Our aim is to build further partnerships with local businesses to encourage them to take on young people in care and care leavers as apprentices, with additional support being provided by us.’

The Virtual School runs a year-round wide range of outreach activity for more than 16 students in care in a variety of subject areas.

Examples of these include an in-house arts award and art exhibition at County Hall; opportunities for students to take part in a performing arts summer camp and music instrument and dance lessons; and participation in the National Citizen Service Summer Programme, Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and Princes’ Trust TEAM programme.

Find out more about Buckinghamshire’s Virtual School.

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