Keep up to date with all the latest news!
This summer, we have been incredibly happy to welcome two new apprentices to the Participation Team. You may have met Tia Pires Higgins and Rob Barton if you came to our activity days during the summer holidays but if not, let’s meet them…Read More
Hi, my name is Rob. I am now an Apprentice for the Virtual School Kent. An actor at heart, I love being able to express my feelings through shows and songs, so beware. I have become an apprentice for lots of reasons. The first reason would be because of my background - I grew up in foster care and I have a good my knowledge of the care system and how it affects young people. The second reason would be that I love seeing the enjoyment on a young person’s face when they know that things have been done for them and that rewards are coming to them as well. I’m really looking forward to my new role.
Hi, my name is Tia and I’m a new addition to the VSK Participation Team. My hobbies and interests are ice skating and horse riding. I really enjoyed doing some work experience in the summer with VSK which is when I decided I wanted to be part of the team. I am really looking forward to my role as an Apprentice Participation Worker as I can engage with and help lots of young people.
We are also happy to announce that Chelsea Goodwin will be continuing with the Virtual School Kent after successfully completing her level 2 Apprenticeship. She is now working towards a level 3 qualification, well done Chelsea!
All our Apprentice Participation Workers are undertaking an apprenticeship with Virtual School Kent and are here to help bridge the gap between you and the Kent County Council elected Members and Senior Directors. They have been in care at some point themselves or have had similar experiences. The role of an apprentice with VSK involves supporting young people, encouraging them to speak up about their views and experiences, and discussing what they would like to change about the care system. Their main responsibilities are to support the Children in Care Councils and organise the activity days that run during the school holidays.
If you are interested in becoming an apprentice within the Participation Team and would like to learn more, why not get in touch? Email VSK_Participation@kent.gov.uk to see if we are recruiting new apprentices!
Every year, Virtual School Kent’s Participation Team holds a celebration for the three Children in Care Councils. The council groups are The Super Council which is for 7-11 year olds, Our Children and Young People’s Council for 11-16 year olds and the Young Adult Council for age 16+.Read More
As well as celebrating the groups’ achievements, it’s a great chance for the Corporate Parents to meet young people and hear first-hand their views, opinions, and fresh ideas about the care they receive from Kent County Council. This year, the event took place on the 1st August in Maidstone.
The aim of the day was to explore what young people understand by the term ‘Corporate Parents’ and how Kent County Council can be the best corporate parent possible to all children in care and care leavers in Kent.
The young people had a chance to create their Corporate Parenting ‘top 10’, some of these included stability, to be given choices and to be listened to.
The young people also added their own feedback about what they would like Kent County Council and their Corporate Parents to do better, some of the things they said were:
The Participation Team will use the young people’s ideas and feedback to create a Young Person’s Guide to Corporate Parenting.
Then it was time for the fun part - the outdoor team game activities which included KCC staff and young people taking part in giant inflatable darts, limbo and a large inflatable climbing wall. Thank you to everyone who attended – your view and ideas are shaping the services that you and other children in care and care leavers receive!
If you are interested in joining one of the Children in Care Councils or just having your say, get in touch at VSK_Participation@kent.gov.uk.
Mind of My Own (MOMO) is an app or website that allows you to share your thoughts and feelings with your social worker, independent reviewing officer, personal adviser and other professionalsRead More
Once you have turned 8, you can sign up for your own account at http://mindofmyown.org.uk/ or by downloading the app on to a smart phone or tablet.
Choose the scenario you would like to talk about and off you go.
If you use the app regularly, you might have noticed a few changes recently:
Want to find out more about MOMO One? Contact the Participation Team at VSK_Participation@kent.gov.uk or click on the MOMO section in the Primary or Secondary areas of Kent Cares Town.
What a brilliant summer we have had! Hot, sunny and jam packed with fun!Read More
We started the summer trying some new sports – gliding in Ashford and water sports in Dover.
Next, a trip to Betteshanger Park near Deal gave us the chance to conquer an obstacle course, build shelters and try geocaching.
Animal lovers enjoyed trips to Howletts Zoo to see the gorillas, lions, elephants and more whilst at Huckleberry Woods in Faversham, we fed cute farm animals and even tried pig fishing! We finished the summer mountain biking and canoeing at Bewl Water and den building at Shorne County Park where even the rain couldn’t spoil our enjoyment of the day.
You told us that the activity days were a great way to try something new, have fun and meet new friends. We loved seeing so many new and familiar faces and look forward to seeing you all at another activity day in the future! If you haven’t been to one our activity days before, we’d love to meet you, give it a try! We will be running activity days during the October school holidays.
Our Activity Days are open to all children in the care of Kent County Council. We also run days for older young people in care and care leavers. If you want to find out about our next activity days or have a suggestion for something we could do, get in touch at VSK_Participation@kent.gov.uk.
When you are in care, your corporate parents are the people who have responsibility for keeping you safe and looking after your wellbeing. They make sure your time in care is as positive as it can be, listen to your opinions and have your best interests at heart. They will help you if you have a problem and care about how you are feeling.
This isn’t just one person but a large group of different people. Your corporate parents include staff in Kent County Council like your social worker, personal adviser or independent reviewing officer, doctors, nurses and other health care workers, the police, staff in schools and colleges and others who work with and look after you. It also includes senior staff at Kent County Council. Some of these people are shown below.
Click on the images to find out more
“I want you to help me make Kent the best place for children and young people to grow up, learn, develop and achieve.”
“I think it is really important that children in care have people to speak for them, to support them and to promote their interests.”
“The best thing about my job is seeing the great outcomes achieved by the amazing young people that I serve.”
“Our aim is to recruit and supervise the very best foster carers to promote a safe and secure environment for children and young people in Kent.”
“As a Corporate Parent, I want the absolute best for our children and young people, ensuring they get the right support to achieve their full potential.”
I am the Corporate Director for Children, Young People and Education Services. I am really pleased that we have now brought together all services for children and young people in one department. As Director, it means that I have a legal responsibility to ensure safeguarding is everyone’s priority and to make sure that Kent County Council is the best parent we can be for all of the children in our care and for our care leavers.
I will want to meet as many of you as possible and to hear whether we are doing the best we can for you. You will always be my highest priority in this job. I have over 33 years experience in Education and Children’s Services and this includes working in East Sussex, the United States of America, Australia and most recently Norfolk. I am a father to three children and grandfather to one. When I was growing up, my parents were foster carers to other children so I have some knowledge of what life was like for children in care from that time.
I really do look forward to getting out and about to meet with as many young people as possible – I want you to help me make Kent the best place of children and young people to grow up, learn, develop and achieve.
I head the Virtual School Kent which is responsible for promoting and improving educational standards for Children in Care and Young Care Leavers of Kent. I am responsible for the coordination of services provided by VSK such as:
Supporting key colleagues (Social workers, Foster carers, Designated Teachers, School Leaders, School Governors, IROs and your Corporate Parents) in understanding their roles and responsibilities in promoting your education and ensuring that they have the highest aspirations for you.
Providing information advice and guidance for you and for the key professionals who may work with you.
Ensuring effective systems are in place to offer extra support.
Ensuring you are at the centre of what we do and that we listen. We do this through our Participation & Engagement Team who run the activity days, children in care councils (Super Council, OCYPC and YAC) and Kent Cares Town website to name but a few specific activities.
I had been working in Educational Leadership for many years specialising in improving school culture and inclusion. This led to some consultancy opportunities which led to me being selected as an educational behaviour expert in the National Behavioural Review within the Prime Ministers Delivery Unit (PMDU) and subsequently the National Strategies. This experience of Central and Local Government work coupled with my passion for inclusion and working with disadvantaged groups of young people inspired me to search for and eventually secure the post of Virtual School Headteacher.
That’s easy, it’s seeing the great outcomes achieved by the amazing young people that I serve. I especially look forward to days like the VSK Talent Showcase and the VSK Achievement Ceremonies in September and October.
I was a Welsh International Athlete. Well athlete is pushing it…. I used to throw the Discus and Hammer for Wales.
I am the Interim Head of Kent Fostering and Registered Manager. I directly line manage the centralised part of Kent Fostering which includes recruitment and assessment of foster carers. I am responsible for making the decision whether to approve new foster carers, including Connected Persons who have been assessed and presented to the Fostering Panel. I oversee the running of all Fostering Panels along with having overall management responsibility for the Specialist Fostering Team who cover Disability Fostering and the Sense of Belonging, along with the Fostering Review Team, Training and Development for foster carers and Initial Enquiries.
I work closely with the seven area Fostering Support Teams to promote joint working and support to foster carers, children and young people. The Fostering Support Teams supervise foster carers, match all referrals for children placements with appropriately skilled carers, promote training for carers and facilitate support groups.
I have worked with Kent Fostering Service for 19 years, initially as a Fostering Social Worker and then as Team Manager for Assessment and Support Teams. In the last couple of years I have been working alongside the Head of Fostering Caroline Smith, in the role of Practice Development Officer with a lead on Fostering. Caroline is currently covering the Assistant Director post for Corporate Parenting and I am covering for Caroline.
I am passionate about this role as it oversees the fostering service to ensure that Kent Fostering recruit and supervise the very best foster carers to promote a safe and secure environment for children and young people in Kent.
I love playing netball and have played for many teams since I was a teenager including Canterbury under 21s. I am a Goal Shooter and have played in the freezing rain and on the hottest of days.
Hello, I am Caroline Smith, the Interim Assistant Director for Corporate Parenting. I am responsible for the services that support our Children in Care and Care Leavers including Kent Fostering Service, Adoption, VSK and 18plus Care Leavers. As a Corporate Parent I want the absolute best for our children and young people, ensuring they get the right support to achieve their full potential. I am very proud of the children and young people we work with and always value any feedback on our services about what we can do to support you.
I have worked for Kent County Council for 26 years, completing my training as a Social Worker and working with children and adults with disabilities, before working in the Fostering Service for 13 years. I am currently covering the Assistant Director role as wanted to be able to make a difference in the lives of as many children and young people as possible.
The best thing about my job is seeing the achievements of children and young people within my services. I love the variety my job gives and the ability to create change with new ideas that will improve the lives of those I am a corporate parent too.
If I won the lottery, I would buy a café on the beach, spending the day baking cakes and looking out at the sea.
I am Head of the Care Leavers 18 Plus Service. It means that I oversee 10 teams of workers who support around 1500 Care Leavers between the ages of 18 and 25.
I made a positive decision to apply for the post as I really wanted to do the job.
The best thing about my job is working with the staff and the young people, being around people and trying to help them as best as I can.
I run marathons and have a best time of 3 hours and 25 minutes which I am very proud of.