NAVSH December 2019 Newsletter

National Association of Virtual School Heads (NAVSH) Newsletter - December 2019

From Lynsey Burridge, NAVSH Chair:

Welcome to the second NAVSH newsletter of the academic year – can you believe it’s nearly Christmas?

The autumn term has been an opportunity for NAVSH to contribute to other conferences and promote the education of looked after children to a wider audience. NAVSH trustees were on ‘expert panels’ at two sessions at the National Children and Adults Services Conference in Bournemouth speaking about improving educational outcomes for vulnerable groups (Children in Need) and for previously looked after children. I was also honoured to be asked to open the Attachment Research Community Conference in Birmingham. This was an opportunity to highlight the shared goals of our two organisations in terms of ensuring that schools are trauma informed and attachment aware.

We have been pleased to continue our close working relationship with Ofsted colleagues this term and we were so grateful to Matthew Brazier for his webinar on ILACS inspections last week. This is still available to watch on our website if you didn’t get a chance to see it live. Matthew is also working with NAVSH to produce online training for school inspectors about the needs of looked after children which we think will be a great opportunity to raise the profile of this group in schools. As part of this training we want to hear what our children think and we will be asking Virtual School Heads to ask their pupils what they would want to say to an Ofsted inspector and send audio recordings to us for inclusion in the training. Please send any recordings to

It only remains for me to wish you all a merry Christmas and a well-deserved rest! See you in 2020!

Annual conference March 18-19 2020

At this time of year, we are always eager to open bookings for the national conference and this year the agenda is looking good with Kriss Akabusi kicking things off on day one.

The booking system is now open on the NAVSH website so get online and book your place!


Day 1 – 18th March 2020



Day 2 – 19th March 2020



Morning refreshments



9:00 Welcome








Kriss Akabusi



Ethical Leadership

Carolyn Roberts – Head Teacher






NCER Update

Edd Shackleton





NAVSH Speed Updating


A young person’s perspective



Table Discussions


Question and Answer Panel








NAVSH Next Steps





Table Discussions





Closing remarks

REES Centre Annual Lecture 2019 on School Exclusions

From Jancis Andrew, Vice Chair and VSH in Leeds:

7th November 2019 was a trip to the dreaming spires of Oxford for the inaugural Rees Centre Annual Lecture 2019 on School Exclusions. We heard from Harry Daniels, Professor of Education at the University of Oxford, Alison Woodhead, Director of Public Affairs and Communications at Adoption UK and author and trainer, Lisa Cherry.

It was a sad revelation to hear some of the statistics across the United Kingdom – 94% of permanent exclusions across the UK are in England which was really food for thought. What was fascinating to hear was how differently things are done in Scotland and how the language feels very different from the backdrop to our work – I can recommend reading their strategy “Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2: A Positive Approach to Preventing and Managing School Exclusions”

As VSH, we are in such a fortunate position to be able to champion relational-based approaches in schools that will surely benefit all children. In my own region, we have formed a working group to better understand how often our intervention prevents permanent exclusion, to what outcome and how PP+ might be being deployed.

The podcast recording of the lecture is also available.

On Monday 2nd December, I attended one of a series of roundtable discussions hosted by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) to discuss some of the recommendations of the Timpson Exclusions Review covering the proposals to amend the accountability measures so that schools would retain some responsibility for outcomes in regard to children who were subject to exclusion, off-rolling and EHE to disincentivise those practices. There were some challenging views around the table but I was able to ensure that the voice of looked after and previously looked after children was heard as a population who also experience school mobility through no fault of their own and how the accountability measures impact on securing a swift transition when an unavoidable move happens in KS4.

The model proposes secondary schools will be proportionately accountable for the GCSE results of all pupils on roll; 40% accountability in performance tables and metrics for all pupils registered on roll on the Year 7 October census which will increase by 5% on each termly census up to and including the October Year 11 census with a similar proposal in primary settings.

Whilst no measures can avert any kind of ‘gaming’ there was acknowledgement that the proposals offered some mitigation. For some entertaining reading about the schools’ accountability framework I can recommend Becky Allen’s “The Ungameable Game”. I will be keeping NAVSH posted about the developments as the CSJ progress to implementation.

Call for Trustees

Time to think about becoming a trustee of NAVSH

The Association needs enthusiastic and dedicated Virtual School Heads willing to build on the achievements of the Association to date. Full details of the election process will be sent out in January 2020.

Vice Chair: the person elected to this post will become the Chair the following year and the Immediate Past Chair the year after that. This is to ensure that some expertise and familiarity with the role of Chair is developed and retained. The role of the Vice Chair is to work alongside the Chair on ensuring that the development plan is implemented, liaising with other organisations such as the Department of Education and dealing with day to day matters. The current Vice Chair is Jancis Andrew who will become Chair for 2019-2020 in March 2020. For more information on the role and the experience of the leadership cycle please contact Sally Kelly.

Honorary Secretary: this post holder plays a key role in ensuring that the charity complies with the requirements of the Charity Commission in terms of registration, reporting, changes to governing documents and directors etc. They also liaise with the administrator to support the trustees in ensuring the smooth functioning of the Board and Extended Board. For more information on the role of Honorary Secretary please contact Sarah Rivers.

Research Lead: this post holder supports the board in meeting one of its main objectives of supporting research, this includes supporting the Board and the membership to keep up-to-date on current research on the education of looked after children. Creating and promote links between NAVSH and academic institutions in order to promote the Association's aims and will support NAVSH to collaborate on research in the field of education of looked after children. In addition, the post holder will seek opportunities to disseminate the findings of research on the education of looked after children both to the membership and more widely, including research conducted by members of NAVSH. For more information contact Michael Bettencourt.

Communications Lead: this is a new trustee post which was approved by the members in December 2020, this is an exciting opportunity to develop the role. The main focus is to ensure that the charity is effective at raising its profile and promoting key messages in order to fulfil the main objects with members, influencers and key organisations. The communication lead will oversee the implementation of the communication strategy and support the Board and the membership to share, collaborate, identify and promote communication opportunities. The post holder will play a key role in developing our website and social media presence. For more information contact

The current trustees have found the work to be very interesting and rewarding and we do hope that plenty of Virtual School Heads will think about standing for election for what promises to be an exciting and challenging term of office. You will need the support of your local authority to be a trustee as it will require a time commitment including travelling to meetings which are held in London, typically five or six times a year.

The newly elected trustees will take over after the Annual General Meeting which will be held in March 2020 as part of the annual conference. Details of the nomination and election process will be sent to all members of the National Association of Virtual School Heads in January 2020. Please note that only members of the Association may vote.

We do hope that you will give serious consideration to becoming a trustee and we look forward to hearing from you. If you would like more information or a copy of the Trustee role description e-mail

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!