Decision details

Continued Educational Support for Looked After Children

Decision Maker: Director of Children, Families and Education

Decision status: Recommendations Approved

Is Key decision?: Yes

Is subject to call in?: Yes


This report seeks approval for Wirral Virtual School to carry out a mini competition with supply or tuition agencies. These agencies would need to demonstrate how they could provide school staff (eg, teachers/TAs), face to face or online tutors, and mentors for Wirral Looked After Children. This support is needed on an often urgent but generally temporary basis. Wirral Virtual School aims to offer short term support to individual looked after children to allow them to have better educational outcomes. This support has been made even more necessary following the pandemic and the impact it has had, with children displaying heightened anxiety and challenging behaviours which schools struggle to cope with and manage.


Wirral Virtual School is a statutory local authority service with the responsibility of supporting and improving the education and outcomes of Looked After Children and Young Care Leavers. There are currently 780 children in the care of Wirral Local Authority. Wirral Virtual School promotes their educational achievement in Wirral and also nationwide due to some looked after children being placed out of borough. Their primary role is to ensure looked after children are in education, supported in education and make academic progress and achieve good outcomes. The team consists of highly experienced staff many of whom were senior leaders in mainstream/specialist education across all key stages.

The report supports the Implementation of the Wirral Plan 2021 - 26, specifically the Brighter Futures theme.

This matter affects all wards and is a key decision


Resolved – that,


The Director of Children, Family and Education has decided to approve the recommendation to undertake a mini competition with tuition agencies to source a 5-year contract to provide school staff/ tuition/ mentoring for Wirral Looked After Children at a value of £600,000.

Reasons for the decision:

This contract is needed to allow Wirral Virtual School to use Government Grants to support the education of Wirral Looked After Children. They need to access teachers, tutors, mentors and Teaching Assistants quickly so that they can support this extremely vulnerable cohort. This support can take place in school or in other locations depending on the needs of the individual child.


This support is often needed very quickly so Wirral Virtual School are looking for permission to source a 5-year contract with a supply/tuition agency who can provide all of the above at short notice. They would also like the agency to offer ESOL support for Wirral’s Unaccompanied asylum seeker Children (UASC) and work with Wirral Virtual School to offer programmes to schools which would help them to fully support and care for Wirral’s Looked After cohort.


All progress has to be tracked, monitored and analysed with pre and post assessment with clear outcomes for the cohort. Wirral Virtual School would closely monitor expenditure against impact. This is a condition of the governments grants which would be used to fund this contract.


Alternative options considered:

Wirral Virtual School has considered using multiple supply agencies on an ad

hoc basis this does not give the consistency and quality of provision that is

absolutely necessary for this vulnerable cohort of children. Wirral Virtual

School needs to have quick access to teachers or TAs so having to contact

multiple agencies during a time of crisis would not be appropriate and would

mean that support for Wirral’s Looked After Children was delayed.


 Wirral Virtual School has considered employing a teacher and TA to work as part of the Virtual School team but this would not be economically viable as they would only be able to offer support to a limited number children at any given time and this support would also be Wirral based only. They could not offer the same level of the support which would be provided by a nationwide supply/tuition agency. There would also be times when the teacher’s services would not be needed and this would not be economically viable.


Publication date: 06/06/2023

Date of decision: 06/06/2023

Effective from: 10/06/2023

Accompanying Documents: