Skip to content ↓
Achieving for Children
AfC Virtual School

Virtual School for the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames, the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames
& the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead


The AfC Virtual School is committed to raising the educational attainment of children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities. This is achieved through: the early identification of special educational needs; assisting schools to ensure that the correct level and type of intervention is in place for each young person in care; ensuring that this support is effectively meeting the child’s special educational needs.

‘60.5% of looked after children had a special educational need in 2014/15, which consists of 27.6% with a statement or EHC plan and 32.9% with SEN support.’ (DfE 2016)

‘It is important that all children with SEN receive the educational provision which meets their needs. However, for looked after children, many of whom will have had difficult and unstable home and school lives before coming into care, it is imperative that their needs are quickly and efficiently assessed and provided for so that the effect of any instability on their education is reduced to a minimum.’ (DfCSF 2010)

"29. The majority of looked after children have special educational needs. Of those a significant proportion will, subject to transition arrangements resulting from changes introduced by the Children and Families Act 2014, have a statement of special educational needs. From 1 September 2014 statements are being replaced by Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans. In these circumstances the VSH should ensure that:
• the special educational needs and disability code of practice 0 to 25 years, as it relates to looked after children, is followed; and,
• the child’s statement or EHC plan works in harmony with his or her care plan to tell a coherent and comprehensive story of how the child’s needs are being met.
Professionals should consider how the statement/EHC plan adds to information about how education, health and care needs will be met without the need to duplicate unnecessarily the information that is already part of the child’s care plan.

30. Some children may have undiagnosed special needs when they start to be lookedafter.  As part of the PEP process there should be robust arrangements in place to ensure that any undiagnosed special educational needs are addressed through the SEND framework8 as soon as possible."  (Promoting the education of looked after children, July 2016)

What are Special Educational Needs (SEN)?

On average, five children in every class have difficulty learning because they have special educational needs (SEN). Special educational needs that affect a child’s ability to learn can include:

  • social, emotional and mental health difficulties, or ability to socialise, for example, not being able to make friends
  • reading and writing, for example, they have a reading or spelling difficulty
  • ability to speak or understand language (though children and young people who speak English as an additional language as their only need should not be identified as having SEN)
  • concentration levels, for example, they have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • physical needs or impairments.

A child or young person has SEN if:

  • they are progressing at a significantly slower rate than the majority of children their age,


  • they need additional or different help from the services usually provided in the school

SEN support

SEN support is a term used for when a child or young person has been identified as having special educational needs. Schools should put in place a four part cycle of Assess, Plan, Do, Review. This is a graduated approach to understanding the child or young person’s needs and removing their barriers to learning.

For further information about SEN support in Richmond and Kingston schools, please click on the link below

What if SEN support is not enough?

Sometimes a child or young person needs a more intensive level of specialist help that cannot be met from the resources available within the school and this is the time to consider an Education, Health and Care needs assessment.  An Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) brings the child or young person’s Education, Health and Social Care needs into a single, legal document. The child or young person must have special educational needs to be eligible for a plan.

For children who are in care SEN professionals must work closely with other relevant professionals involved in the child’s life as a consequence of his/her being looked after. These include the Social Worker, Designated Doctor or Nurse, Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO), Virtual School Headteacher (VSH) and Designated Teacher in school. This will ensure that the child’s EHC plan works in harmony with his/her Care Plan and adds to, but does not duplicate, information about how education, health and care needs will be met. Only information relevant to supporting their special educational needs should be included in the plan.

For further information about Education, Health and Care Plans, please click on the link below

The ‘Golden Binder’

The ‘Golden Binder’ is a resource created by SEND Family voices working with AfC and representatives from Health, Social Care, Schools, Early Years and Post 16 to create a complete set of guidance documents relating to ‘Support for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND)’. The resource is nicknames the ‘Golden Binder’. Every school SENCo and special school in Richmond and Kingston should have a copy, as well as all key professionals involved with the EHCP process. The resource can be download here:

To find further useful links to information and organisations regarding SEND please see below.

AfC are not responsible for the content of these websites

Jargon Buster

The Care and Support Jargon Buster is a plain English guide to the most commonly used social care words and phrases and what they mean. The definitions are plain English rather than legal, and were developed and tested by a steering group that included people who use services, carers, representatives from local authorities, information providers and key stakeholders from across the social care sector.