Skip to main content

A three-year Virtual School Model pilot began in March 2021. This research gathers initial evidence of approaches taken by pilot local authorities to support care-experienced children.

The aim of this project was to gather early insights into the different structures, implementation processes and perceived impacts of the Virtual School Model pilot thus far.

Several limitations in the monitoring information were found. This meant it was not possible to conduct a detailed comparative analysis of spending, staffing, implementation and impact between local authorities. This limited the analysis to a high-level overview. 

A key finding from the research is that there are 3 broad categories of usage for the Virtual School Model pilot funding by participating local authorities:

  • five local authorities have utilised the funding to implement a new or significantly changed Virtual School Model
  • four local authorities have utilised the funding to improve the capacity and effectiveness of their existing systems for supporting care-experienced children
  • three local authorities are in the early stages of developing their Virtual School Model

Of the twelve local authorities, five have appointed a Virtual School Head and four are currently planning to do so. One local authority did not provide this information. 

All four local authorities interviewed were in favour of continuing the Virtual School Model as a permanent statutory model, with ring-fenced funding. Three stated they were in favour of developing a limited set of statutory requirements, with scope to customise their approach to address the specific needs of care-experienced children in their region. 

The research provides recommendations regarding what further evaluative work is required to give a complete understanding of the support available to care-experienced children throughout Wales and inform the future development of policy and guidance.


Virtual School Model pilot: initial evidence gathering from local authority pilots , file type: PDF, file size: 683 KB

683 KB
If you need a more accessible version of this document please email Please tell us the format you need. If you use assistive technology please tell us what this is.


Schools research team

Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth yn Gymraeg / We welcome correspondence in Welsh.


Telephone: 0300 025 8099

Rydym yn croesawu galwadau yn Gymraeg / We welcome calls in Welsh.