As a Virtual School, we offer a range of activities and interventions to support our children and young people to access suitable, high-quality learning and education opportunities. This can include creating a culture of high educational aspirations and as well as acting in the best interests to promote the physical, mental health and well-being of children and young people. Below is an overview of some of the activities that are on offer to our children and young people
Taking learning outside is good for promoting children’s self-esteem, well-being, behaviour, cooperative learning and problem-solving. These skills feedback positively into classroom work and other settings. We take part in the Forest School Programme at Christ Church School which builds on the natural instinct to learn and explore that everybody is born with. It offers opportunities for children to make choices for their own learning and take and manage risks. The development of these skills encourages positive attitudes and behaviour.
The sessions are not activity-based but instead are led by the interests of the learners. Children may enjoy such experiences as building shelters, woodland craft-work, telling stories, cooking over fires, climbing trees, hunting for mini-beasts and making mud pies. As the programme develops, woodland tools are introduced to extend learning and provide new opportunities for risk management. Forest school sessions are available for children in years 3-5 during the summer term.
Some of our children and young people need a higher level of nurture to support their needs. We are able to access the wonderful Nurture House at Lower Farm School. Each child will have an action plan set at the start of the interventions at the Nurture House and this will be reviewed during and at the end of the child’s time there. Children can access this provision for between 6-12 weeks dependent on their needs and progress when they are there. Nurture provision is available for children in years R-Y6.
This academic year we will be trialling the use of academic mentors to support young people in years 10 & 11. The mentors will work with students who are at risk of underachievement and/or may be unsure of what they would like to do long term. The Mentors will have a regular check-in with students and help them stay focused on their education and develop their aspirations and hopes for the future.
Reading Eggs is an online reading programme that we subscribe to that helps children in Key Stages 1 and 2 to learn to read. Reading Eggs makes learning to read interesting and engaging for children, with great online reading games and activities. Children love the games, songs, golden eggs and other rewards which, along with feeling proud of their reading, really motivate children to keep exploring and learning.
DoodleMaths builds maths confidence in children with an individual programme tailored to strengths and weaknesses. It is the online learning programme that we subscribe to, that supports children in Key Stages 1 and 2 to reinforce existing knowledge while gradually introducing new concepts. Curriculum-aligned questions are delivered in short, fun and snappy exercises on a computer, tablet or phone. Little and often works best – just 10 minutes a day is all you need to boost your child’s confidence and ability in maths.
Mathletics provides a safe, encouraging learning environment that provides the right level of challenge to help learners grow, gain confidence, and achieve their best. Online resources give students the chance to take learning into their own hands, developing their autonomy, problem-solving and ability to work independently. It is built on a foundation of solid curriculum-led content, covering all aspects of the Key stage 3 and 4 curriculum. Mathletics complements and reinforces schoolwork and classroom learning. Through intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, it brings purpose, creativity and fun to maths learning.
The Aspire2Uni scheme is an awareness-raising programme with the aim of increasing the number of Looked-after children achieving successful outcomes pre and post-16 and consequently entering university.
To support young people to progress to higher education, Aspire2Uni designs and delivers a programme of informative and engaging outreach activities that give the young people more information and advice about what university is about, how to get there and what to study. They also offer work experience opportunities and support young people to achieve their qualifications by providing mentors and a tutor if needed.
There are currently over 40 young people on our Aspire 2 university programme. We have 7 cohorts running at present from Years 7- 11. Each cohort has 3 outreach activity days a year, 1 per term.
Our young people are offered opportunities to explore a range of different faculties where they can meet current students, lecturers and mentors, in areas such as Science and Engineering, Sports, Performing Arts, Education and Health and Well-being. They also have the opportunity to visit Birmingham City University and the University of Wolverhampton (Walsall Campus). Additionally, the children attend Jaguar Land Rover to share with them the different pathways into higher education such as apprenticeships or Vocational studies.
There are further opportunities such as a visit to the Houses of Parliament, opportunities to be ball boys and flag bearers at Walsall Football Club and residential camps to support with their studies and preparation for their exams.
Year 6 Residential
Each summer, the Virtual School runs a residential for Year 6 children to support them with the transition to secondary school. It is a great opportunity for them to develop relationships with peers and build on the social skills needed to prepare them for the start of secondary education. The Year 6 children are supported by peers in older years who have been through the transition themselves, which gives the children the opportunity to build relationships with them and discuss anything they want to about secondary school with peer mentors. It is a great trip away. We stay for 2 nights at Edgmond Hall, taking part in a range of activities from den building to animal care.
Artslink was set up in 2018 by the consortium of 14 Virtual Schools across the West Midlands. Its mission is to create a high-quality arts and cultural offer which all children in care across the West Midlands can access. The Artslink offer is underpinned by a model of a progression pathway which provides a range of experiences and opportunities that enables children in care to develop their interests and talents.
Dolly Parton Imagination Library
Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a book gifting programme for children aged 0-5 operated by the Dollywood Foundation, Dolly Parton’s own charity. Their mission is to inspire a lifelong love of books and reading by placing books into the hands of children.
All children enrolled in the Imagination Library programme receive a free book every month from birth until their 5th birthday. We register children when they come into care at any age between birth and five. All titles in the Imagination Library are published by Penguin Random House (PRH) and carefully selected by a panel of experts in early childhood development and reading. Each age group from birth upwards receives a different book, all of which are age-appropriate, except for the first book, ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit. This is a special edition with a forward from Dolly herself.
Book in a Bag
We have developed our own book gifting programme for children in primary school. These children will receive books with carefully crafted activities to go with them to cultivate a continued love of reading. They will receive their book in a bag once every term.
Early Years Enrichment Pack
Early education and care can have a huge educational and emotional impact both short and long term. We have created a pack of activities and resources for carers to use with our youngest children to support their development. We work with carers, parents and social workers to model how to use the resources. There is a range of fun activities designed to stimulate enjoyment while developing key skills.
First News is a weekly newspaper aimed at 7 to 14-year-olds that aims to get children and young people talking about the news in an easy to understand and non-threatening way. The weekly Newspaper covers issues that are relevant to children and which specifically affect them with a mix of world and UK news and loads of fun stuff, such as entertainment, games, animals, sport and puzzles. Using news as a foundation to learning develops children’s ability to identify and understand the way facts are presented, explore detail in-depth and evaluate information accurately. All children ages 9-13 receive a weekly copy of first news through their door.
Reading for pleasure is so important it’s now part of the national curriculum, and magazines for children play an important role in that, as well as books. This is why we have subscribed to Storytime magazine for all children in years 1-4. Each magazine is packed with brilliant tales for both boys and girls and each magazine includes a pack of resources relevant to each edition. The magazine is delivered monthly directly to the child’s home address.
Summit2Success is a project we run for Year 7 & 8 students. The project runs for 9 weeks and has a focus on building resilience, confidence and social skills. As well as the weekly sessions, the group attend one day at an outdoors centre and finish off the course at a weekend residential. Young people are identified through their PEP and given the option to attend.
Pictures, short stories and activities open the door to the most reluctant readers, so to encourage our young people in KS4 to continue reading and help spark their interests, we offer all our young people in years 10 & 11 a free annual subscription to a magazine of their choice.