About The HOPE Virtual School

The HOPE, Bristol’s Virtual School for children in care (CiC), exists to improve the education of children in care. Children in care are sometimes also referred to as looked after children.

The HOPE is a cross-phase school. Our pupils range from 2 to 18 years and attend real schools/settings. The Headteacher and/or the designated teacher of each real school provide information to The HOPE's staff so that we can oversee how they are getting on in their education.

What we do

Our job is to monitor and track how Bristol’s children and young people in care are doing and put systems, processes, structures and support in place to help our young people do the best they can.  Our staff team monitor and track:

  • how well all our learners are attending their real school
  • how they are getting on in individual subjects
  • what help they need and what we all might be able to provide and do to support them.

We work across Bristol City Council with many different departments. We also work with external organisations to try to deliver the best possible education for children and young people in care. You can find out about some of our work with our main stakeholders below:

Schools/Education settings

In school and education settings we:

  • work with designated teachers for CiC and other education staff to monitor and track individual CiC’s progress, attainment and attendance
  • provide guidance on individual situations to achieve the best possible outcomes for CiC
  • provide training to designated teachers and named governors for CiC
  • are responsible for paying the LAC Pupil Premium funding to schools.

Social care staff

For social care staff we:

  • advise social workers on choice of schools and on specific issues relating to the education of a CiC
  • attend as many first and transition Personal Education Plan (PEP) meetings as possible as well as PEP meetings where there are complex issues to be discussed
  • train social care staff on educational issues.


For carers we:

  • advise carers on specific issues relating to the education of a CiC
  • offer training on educational issues to carers, in partnership with our social care colleagues 

Why is a virtual school needed?

Many individual children and young people in care enjoy and do well at school. However, as a group, children in care do not perform as well in their education as their peers. Since April 2014, every local authority in England has had to appoint at least one person to fulfil the local authority’s statutory duty to promote the educational achievement of its looked after children, wherever they live or are educated. In Bristol, we have a Virtual School Headteacher and a staff team to carry out this duty. 

Our Vision and Values

Our vision is contained in The HOPE’s logo: ‘Helping our Pupils Excel’. 

Underpinning our vision are three core values: 

  • aspiration 
  • collaboration 
  • respect 

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