The HOPE, Bristol's Virtual School, exists to improve the education of children in care (CiC). Children in care are sometimes also referred to as looked after children.
The HOPE is for children and young people who are:
- in the care of or a care leaver of Bristol and educated in Bristol
- in the care of or a care leaver of Bristol and educated in another local authority
- in the care of another local authority but educated in Bristol
Our pupils range from 2 to 18 years.
We also support young people up to 25 years old if they:
- are still in education
- have special needs
The HOPE doesn't have its own school building, but we do have a staff team. Our pupils go to real schools or education settings. We work with the staff in those settings so we can monitor and track how well our young people are doing.
We also have information and advice about previously looked after children.
Our pdf HOPE leaflet (230 KB) helps explain the work we do.
Our vision is in The HOPE's logo: Helping our Pupils Excel.
Our three core values are:
Many children and young people in care do well at school. However, as a group, children in care often don't do as well in their education as other children.
Every local authority in England has a statutory duty to promote the educational achievement of these children. We do this through our virtual school.
We act as the corporate parents for Bristol's children in care and Bristol's care leavers. This means we:
- encourage them to let us know how they're feeling about their home and school life
- use their feedback to help us make the best decisions for them
- help them to do the best they can in their education
- help them access services provided by us and other organisations
- help them to be safe and well at home and in education
- prepare them for adulthood and independent living
We check how Bristol's children in care and care leavers are doing in their education by meeting and working with:
- our young people
- their schools and education settings
- their social care staff
- their carers
This helps us to know how the young person is getting on in and out of school. We then put support in place to help them do their best. This can be really varied and depends on what the young person needs.
We work with other local authorities and other council departments.
Other local authorities
We work with other local authorities, who either have:
- Bristol children in care or care leavers who are educated in their authority
- Children in care or care leavers from their authority who are educated in a Bristol education setting
Our work together can include:
- finding an education place for a child or young person
- attending personal education plan meetings
- sharing updates about the child or young person's education
Other departments in the council
We work with other council departments including:
- Alternative Learning Provision
- Education Welfare Service
- Governor Development Service Go to https://tradingwithschools.org/Services/574 (opens new window)
- Educational Psychology Service Go to http://tradingwithschools.org/Services/2990 (opens new window)
- School Admissions Service Go to http://tradingwithschools.org/Services/577 (opens new window)
- School Improvement Officers Go to http://www.tradingwithschools.org/Services/535 (opens new window)
- Special educational needs and disabilities
- Safeguarding in Education team Go to https://tradingwithschools.org/Services/2563 (opens new window)
Other organisations we work with
- independent fostering agencies
- the NHS
- not for profit organisations such as the National Citizen Service Go to https://www.ncsyes.co.uk/ (opens new window)
- nurses for looked after children
- training or apprenticeship providers for our post 16 young people
You can contact The HOPE's headteacher if you have a question about systems or policies to do with the education of a child in care.
Contact the relevant staff member if you're looking for individual advice or support for a pupil.
The HOPE has its own governance board. Our governors support and challenge the Virtual School Head and monitor how well the virtual school is performing. The HOPE also reports to the Corporate Parenting board in Bristol. Further details of this structure are available from Thehope@bristol.gov.uk
We follow government guidance to help promote the education of children in care Go to https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/683556/Promoting_the_education_of_looked-after_children_and_previously_looked-after_children.pdf (opens new window).
The guidance sets out what we must do and what we expect other professionals working with us to do.
We also follow government guidance for organisations which work with and support children and young people who have special educational needs or disabilities Go to https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/398815/SEND_Code_of_Practice_January_2015.pdf (opens new window).
Our pdf Expectations document (532 KB) is taken from the government guidance. It describes the roles and responsibilities of everyone working with children in care.
The Expectations document has sections for:
- education settings
- social workers
- independent reviewing officers (IROs)
- healthcare professionals
- staff in other local authorities