Virtual School

Welcome to the Virtual School

This website is a one stop portal for children and young people who are Looked After (Care Experienced),  parents and carers and professionals working with our Looked After children. It is a place to access information, advice and guidance on education supports, share best practice and gain a complete picture of the multi-agency work which goes on in support of our Looked After Children.

Relaxation group

From April 2018, a new relaxation programme will be running for young people aged 14-26 who are in care, or who have been in care previously. This includes being looked after at home, in kinship care, foster care or a children’s home. Participants will be expected to attend monthly sessions and will be engaging in a range of activities from breathing exercises and meditation to yoga, massage and acupuncture as well as preparing healthy snacks to fuel both the body and the mind. There will be take-home techniques and goodies to promote self-care at home as well. Monthly sessions will take place on a Tuesday evening from 5pm-6.30pm at Westburn. For more information or to request a place, please download the referral form below: 

The Virtual School acts as a local authority champion to bring about improvements in the education of our Looked After (Care Experienced) children and to promote their educational achievement as if they were in a single school. Ensuring that they receive a high quality education is the foundation for improving their lives.

The school does not exist in real terms, or as a building. Children do not attend it - they remain the responsibility of the school at which they are enrolled. Virtual School Aberdeen is simply an organisational tool which has been created for the effective co-ordination of support for this vulnerable group at a strategic and operational level.

What do we do?

  • Influence policy and develop and improve services for Looked After (Care Experienced) Children
  • Promote individual achievement, health, and wellbeing.
  • Provide advice, support and training to professionals, schools and carers
  • Improve access to specialist services, including health assessments, mental health assessments and treatment.
  • Provide access to professional advice and guidance on education, training and employment.
  • Promote additional opportunities for out of school learning and leisure.

How are we organised?

Virtual School Aberdeen comprises of a Headteacher and a Looked After Children Teacher. We are supported by colleagues in social work, the third sector, The Education Inclusion team and a Looked After Children Nurse.

Larissa Gordon – Virtual School Head Teacher

Larissa took up post of Virtual School Head Teacher in November 2015. This post is the first of its kind in Scotland and demonstrates the commitment of Aberdeen City Council to its Looked After (Care Experienced) Children. Before taking up this post, Larissa was Depute Head at Oldmachar Academy in Aberdeen. She brings with her a wealth of experience in learning and teaching, curriculum design, leadership and management and pastoral care.

As a Depute Head, she developed effective partnerships with a range of organisations and businesses, implemented procedures to raise achievement and attainment and successfully supported children and families. Whilst a DHT Larissa was appointed as Aberdeen City Council's representative for School Leaders Scotland (SLS) which enables her to keep abreast of the latest developments in Scottish education.

Larissa is passionate about young people being supported to succeed in all aspects of their life. As lead corporate parent for education she aims to make sure that Looked After (Care Experienced) Children and Young People have the same opportunities as their peers who are not Looked After (Care Experienced) to benefit from high quality education through Curriculum for Excellence, including progression to further and higher education. Through an effective multi-agency and strategically co-ordinated approach she aims to level the playing field for our Looked After (Care Experienced) Children in Aberdeen City.

Contact details

Larissa Gordon
Virtual School Headteacher
Inclusion Team
Education and Children's Services 
Aberdeen City Council
Business Hub 13
Marischal College
AB10 1AB

01224 523580

Jacinta Birchley - Looked After Children Teacher

Jacinta has been in this role since 2005. During this time she has been responsible for rolling out the Scottish Governments policy and legislation in relation to looked after children and education within Aberdeen City. This is based on the Scottish Governments "We Can and Must Do Better" suite of publications and the Children & Young Persons (Scotland) Act (2014). She has been chair of the Scottish Looked After (Care Experienced) Children Education Forum and contributed to national developments.

Jacinta's main roles are:

  • Supporting Education Pathways for Looked After (Care Experienced) Children and Young people
  • Delivering training to professionals

Currently Jacinta is involved in the Keen4Work supported work experience programme run in partnership with Action for Children for care experienced young people aged between 16 and 26. She is particularly interested in this transition time in care experienced young people's lives as they navigate their way to having a positive adult life. Her research interests are in corporate parenting, social justice and looked after children.

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