Virtual School Kent becomes the first-ever virtual school to achieve the NNSP Award

31 March 2022

Virtual School Kent (VSK) acts as a local authority champion to promote the progress and educational attainment of children and young people who are or who have been in care so that they achieve educational outcomes comparable to their peers. Ensuring that they receive a high-quality education is a foundation for improving their lives. The school does not exist in real terms, or as a building, pupils do not attend it – they remain the responsibility of the school at which they are enrolled. VSK is simply an organisation that has been created for the effective coordination of educational services at a strategic and operational level.

VSK worked with nurtureuk to co-create a version of the National Nurturing Schools Programme (NNSP) for the Virtual School sector. In collaboration, we looked at the standards of the original programme and adapted it to fit their model, including bespoke 4, 8 and 12 months catch-up sessions, where VSK and nurtureuk co-delivered quality training and feedback sessions, ensuring that the VSK extended leadership teams were engaged and progressing through the 18-month programme. 

One of the key factors noted when working with VSK was the emphasis on relationships. Pupils, parents and carers, outside agencies, and designated teachers all commented on the positive regard, positive approaches and creativity within VSK. They work from a strengths-based perspective and have the wellbeing of their pupils, staff and partners at the heart of everything they do, recognising that the nature of their work is often challenging and sometimes in traumatic circumstances. Their desire to inspire, engage and support their pupils, often thinking “out of the box” in a creative way has resulted in successful outcomes, which are tangible and commendable.” – Claire Wilson, Senior Consultant Trainer at nurtureuk

Although the Covid-19 pandemic delayed their application for the award, it did not stop VSK from following the programme, using the Boxall Profile®, and embedding the 6 Principles of Nurture to ensure that their pupils and schools were all supported and encouraged in very challenging circumstances. VSK use their own version of nurtreuk’s 6 Principles which were developed by their young people, and their Directorate of Children’s Services, led by Matt Dunkley, were so impressed by these VSK Principles that they are looking to adopt them too. VSK is leading the way to ensure that Kent becomes a nurturing county and we are so pleased and proud of the way that they took the NNSP programme and made it part of their ethos, culture and values. 

This is an inspiring version of the NNSP programme, the result of which has empowered not just the VSK’s pupils and staff but also their stakeholders such as Fostering Services, Kent County Council and Social Care services, to name but a few. The ripple effect of VSK’s hard work is tangible across the whole county of Kent and is a testament to their understanding of the power of the 6 Principles of Nurture. This is really most impressive and the commitment, creativity and passion involved shine through.” – VSK NNSP Assessment Report

We want to congratulate all at Virtual School Kent for becoming the first ever virtual school to achieve the National Nurturing Schools Programme Award, and for setting the standard for all virtual schools to follow!

Take a look at our recent interview that we did with Virtual School Kent where we talk to Headteacher Tony Doran, Deputy Head Sarah Howell and Senior Support Officer Amanda Ormond: