Thursday, 10 November 2011

Visit to Brent Virtual School

I had a very interesting meeting with all the team at Brent Virtual School earlier this week. It was great to hear about the work they do to support Brent’s looked-after children. I was so impressed about the results they are achieving: Brent scores 7th highest in the country in terms of A*-C GCSEs attained by LAC, despite the fact that it is an authority with very high levels of deprivation. I met several of their students at a stage performance a few months ago, and can testify to their skills and motivation.

Letterbox Club is having a fantastic impact in Brent. The children love receiving the books and games in the post. Having books of their own and being members of a club are hugely appealing to them. One girl expressed amazement and delight that the parcels reached her even when she had moved. Reading tests at Y3 and Y5 before and after gifting have demonstrated significant improvements. The team say the rise in reading levels among Brent’s LAC recently highlighted by Ofsted had a lot to do with the scheme. I am sure the great partnership between the Virtual School and the Library Service also plays a big part in building enthusiasm for reading as well as reading skills. The Service supports LAC in other ways too, with fun days for example, and exciting contributions to celebration events. Lots of looked-after teenagers get work experience in Brent libraries.

Hopefully I will be giving some training on supporting LAC reading for Brent foster carers next year. I am already looking forward to it.