Published 31st August 2022 | Shared from GLUU

How Dudley Virtual School is supporting children using askOLA

School can sometimes be the only reliable and consistent place for “looked-after children”, but this does not mean that schools are equipped to be able to provide everything these children need to achieve the outcomes they deserve.

Dudley Virtual School is utilising askOLA to provide equity for all students, no matter their personal circumstances.

online tutoring

The Children and Families Act 2014 requires local authorities in England to appoint at
least one person for the purpose of discharging the local authority’s duty to promote the
educational achievement of its looked after children. Virtual school’s heads work closely
with students to support them to get the best outcomes. Virtual Schools do not replace
the mainstream schooling, but provide an additional resource where people can
work cooperatively and collaboratively with students to benefit them.

In 2019, the average Attainment 8 score for looked after children was 19.1 compared
to 44.6 for non-“looked after children”. Given the additional pressures of the
pandemic, we know that children in care will be in urgent need of extra support.

In Autumn 2022, askOLA is to be initially introduced to a small cohort
of 40 students across the Dudley local authority area. They want to
focus on the following areas:

  • To support students who are willing to learn but who are not thriving in traditional school environments
  • We give students unlimited access to askOLA, 7-days a week from 9am to 9pm
  • To support EAL students, who were unable to communicate as effectively with other educators
  • We reacted to this emerging need by providing auto-translation software into our latest version of askOLA
  • To provide much needed wellbeing support for vulnerable young people
  • We provide on-demand wellbeing support from a trusted mental health partner, in a format that is completely controlled by the students themselves.

The impact of askOLA in other schools so far has exceeded expectations. It quickly became
apparent that school-led and student-driven tutoring was a good way forward to accelerate
progress. Students simply log on to askOLA’s interactive platform and connect instantly with a
tutor via a live chat function that allows them to seek homework help, verbal feedback, and
study support in their chosen subject area. Sessions can last for a few minutes or several
hours, depending on the needs of the student. Locally, a pilot of 353 students rapidly
expanded to a Trust-wide provision in a local MAT – Shireland Collegiate Academy.

From September 2022, we will roll out provision to 40 students in Dudley Virtual
School, monitoring outcomes closely with a view to extending provision across
the service.

Read the full case study here.