For Local Authority Virtual School Heads and Social Workers
A New Model for the “Now” Generation
We live in a fast moving world with information on demand 24 hours a day whenever we want it. Children’s expectations of being able to find what they want using the Internet and parents expectations of being able to buy things when they choose to over the phone or web are embedded in the modern psyche.
It is our thesis that all children but especially Looked After Children can benefit from an “on demand” tutor always available at the end of the phone line at homework time, who can provide expertise and help children develop the problem solving skills they need when they run into difficulties and provide that directly into the home at the point at which the problem is encountered.
Where appropriate they can also directly advise and support the foster carer in helping their children, enabling the carers to be actively involved in the children’s learning, but in a way that helps rather than confuses and is aligned with both the National Curriculum and current schools practice and methods.
EBS provide this service via a Freephone Teacher Helpline manned during homework time by CRB checked fully Qualified UK Teachers using our SilverBoard specialist password protected online whiteboard environment for supporting and tutoring children. This is combined with termly online testing to measure the children’s level of educational attainment and progress against expected norms and to identify gaps in knowledge upon which tutoring resources can be focussed. Back to top
Non Intrusive Approach to Providing Tutor Support
This non-intrusive web and phone-based approach, together with the on demand availability after school from Monday to Friday plus Saturday mornings is ideal for Looked After Children, who can often be vulnerable and sensitive but need frequent additional support, not a single once a week intervention.
Not only that, but in home help is known to be far more effective in many cases than additional help at school and does not make Looked After Children stand out as different from other children when they are taken out of regular class for additional help.
We now provide on demand homework support and tutoring in maths and English for Looked After Children from 6 to 16 years old, 52 weeks a year, together with our QCDA based termly testing and monitoring of their educational progress.
We do that all for a fixed annual fee per family that can be significantly less than the current annual Personal Learning Allowance, but delivers two of the three main objectives – supporting homework and tracking educational progress in maths English, leaving the balance for cultural and other outings and experience. And we include a foster carer's own children up to16 years old in that as well.
We have won our first contract with Blue Sky Fostering and are now looking to generate interest and introductions for the next ones.
We believe that in these times when everyone in the public sector is being asked to do more with less, our service will improve educational support for Looked After Children whilst reducing staff workload, but at a very affordable cost.
The reason we can be this cost effective is because our service is delivered remotely by UK Qualified, UK based UK Registered Teachers using a well-proven web and phone-based approach that has been developed and refined with customers over the past 10 years. We currently support over 40,000 children across the UK with their maths & English schoolwork and homework. Back to top
Proven through the UK Government’s Virtual School Heads Pilot
In 2008, EBS were part of the government pilot project for Virtual School Heads, working with 4 of the 11 pilot authorities to test the effectiveness of such a concept. .
We provided our on-demand telephone Homework Helpline 6-days a week, together with termly checkups and Diplomas in both maths and English, using our standard capabilities.
This study provided much learning, both for Virtual School Heads and for us and we were cited in the government report as best practice (see paragraph 3 on Page 2 of Findings in the report ).
Download a Pdf copy of the report
From that learning we have now modified our systems and processes to better meet the needs of Looked After Children as we now we understand them. With the government now requiring all local authorities to provide a Virtual School Head to support the Looked After Children in their authority care, we are now expanding our service to other local authorities and to private foster care companies. Back to top
Joining up the Looked After Children Support Community
Beyond this, the increasingly complex web of responsibilities across agencies for Looked After Children is making a co-ordinated approach to their welfare and well being increasingly difficult to co-ordinate and deliver. For overworked case officers, joining up the Head of Virtual School, Designated Teacher, social worker and foster carers is major demand on their scarce time.
Our experience very much mirrors what is reported in the official report in that there was significant educational benefit to the children from this additional private tuition intervention, but that better co-ordination between social workers, foster parents/ carers and Virtual Schools was needed to get the best from it.
So we have now modified our feedback processes such that we can send the stimulus and results e-mails to all parties inboxes, not just to one of them. This means we help them meet the big challenge of joining up the information about LACs educational attainment across the various groups responsible for them such as Virtual School Heads, Social Workers and Designated Teachers, which was the big learning from the government pilot.
Our new systems now allow us to overcome that for them and reduce the problem. Prompts for tests and the educational results from them now all arrive at up to 4 Inboxes simultaneously, to ensure everyone is informed and up to date.
Results of the tests are mailed directly to the inbox of foster carers and can also be simultaneously e-mailed to other relevant parties involved in a Looked After Child’s care, welfare and educational attainment, to ensure co-ordination of educational attainment information with reduced workload.
In this way we do not seek to try and overcome the interdepartmental communication issues across an authority, which are often workload and priority based in very busy departments, but provide the coordination on a child centric basis, providing the stimulus and results to all parties direct to their inboxes and keeping them all coordinated by the flow of information about each child.
We believe this is a more effective form of information sharing, acting as a neutral agent for the information on behalf of the child and making it available to those authorised to have it and who can make active use of it. We provide the stimulus for action, making it easier to ensure the right actions get taken at the right times and making reporting seamless and consistent, even when a child moves between school or homes within the authority.
This is a new approach to providing tutorial support for children, leveraging phone and Internet technology to re-envision the tutorial model of supporting students for the 21st Century and facilitating improved coordination around the educational attainment of Looked After Children by the relevant professionals who support them and their carers. Back to top
Significant Benefits for all Parties
For the Children
For Foster Carers
For the Local Authority Virtual School Heads & Social Workers
Help available every day at homework time when you need it
Help now, so problems are solved immediately and you don’t fall behind in class
All done on the web and the phone - no one calls at home and you don’t have to go anywhere
Cool web tutorial space to make it easy to work with tutors
Qualified Teachers who know how you learn things at school
Targets areas of weakness to prevent them becoming a problem
Anonymous, so no one knows where you live
Reduces need for special extra classes in school
Diplomas and certificates to show success as you master a subject area
Builds confidence as master subjects
Fully aligned with the National Curriculum
Available when your children need it, not just once a week
6 days a week at homework time not just when the tutor is available
Fully CRB checked Qualified UK Teachers at all times - no students
Safe, password and tutor controlled web tutorial space that children love and assists communication and effectiveness of tutoring
Regular termly progress reporting direct to your e-mail Inbox as well as to the Virtual School staff
Reminders when tests due
Suitable for vulnerable and non disclosed children as non intrusive and anonymous – only the child's Christian name is held with foster family name and only the child’s year of birth not date
Foster Carers can also use us if the children are nervous or don’t understand something
Consistent view of each child and their progress on a termly basis
Reporting and Monitoring direct to up to 4 specified Inboxes
Cost effective compared to one-to-one tutoring, leaving more resources for other activities
Only CRB checked Qualified UK Teachers at all times – no university students
Available daily at homework time (except Sundays) – resolves issues as they occur so no build up of problems until the next tutor session
Safe and password protected web tutorial environment
Web based testing identifies precisely where interventions are needed
Supports Foster Carers and Care Centre Staff as well as children
Fully aligned with the National Curriculum and how subjects are taught in schools today