Achievements of looked after children honoured at virtual school awards

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Tv presenter and speaker Jaz Ampaw -Farr gave an inspiring address at the awards

Children in the care of Tower Hamlets were recognised for their achievements at the virtual school awards at the University of East London on October 18.

Motivational speaker, tv presenter, writer and former star of the apprentice Jaz Ampaw-Farr opened the awards with a barnstorming speech talking about the need to be ‘ten per cent braver’ saying: “Instead of asking why me, ask why not me?”

Jaz said: “Being brought up in care can make you feel that you’re an imposter and that you don’t belong. The virtual school is a crucial point of connection and an amazing community. Teachers changed my life, to me they are the everyday heroes. What they do is amazing and I’m delighted to celebrate the achievements of students and teachers alike.”

The virtual school’s role is to help children in care to achieve their potential educationally, physically and socially. It is responsible for working with social workers, carers and professionals to promote educational achievement and its teachers represent children at meetings with their school. It provides a support network for their school years and beyond. 

Councillor Danny Hassell, Cabinet Member for Children Schools and Young People said: “The work of the virtual school is a crucial way that we as a council provide support to children who are looked after and give them a voice.

This awards ceremony was a chance to highlight the achievements and efforts of all the students. No matter what their circumstances or background we work hard to ensure that they have every chance for success and to fulfil their potential. 

Awards were given for a range of achievements including; taking GCSE exams a year early to progress in reading, participation in school life and enrichment outside of school.

The awards event and dinner featured film of looked after children participating in a range of activities that teach life skills such as cooking at the council funded Gorsefield rural activity centre in Essex.

The facility hosts thousands of children from across the borough every year, giving them a crucial place of serenity and space to experience a different learning environment and see nature at first hand.

Other supporters at the event included the West Ham United Foundation who have a special relationship with the virtual school and provide opportunities for children to experience sport, art and culture. An award was presented by the Dutch international footballer midfielder Tessel Middag who plays for the West Ham womens’ team.

Jonathan and Hannah Moore who run Total Jam Sport, also presented an award. Their company provides dance and motivational sport activity for children at Gorsefield. The virtual school is also supported by Jack Petchey Foundation

Jonathan Moore said: “The work we do with young people is about motivation and empowerment. We are proud to support children who have may not have had the best start build their confidence.”

David Cregan, Headteacher  of the Virtual School said: “Many children come into care with a disrupted education and a deprived cultural experience due to the neglect they have suffered. We seek to turn that around and many of the children double their attendance at school and then take on amazing challenging experiences that boost their self-esteem and aspirations for the future.”

“The event is a celebration of the children’s achievement and our responsibility as corporate parents is encapsulated by the schools guiding maxim: “Would this be good enough for my child?”

Posted on Tuesday 22nd October 2019